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Environmental Sustainability

Our sustainability initiatives are a critical component of our commitment to corporate responsibility. Our focus is on facts reported clearly, and our innovation in sustainability gives us a competitive edge as we compete to lease space to quality tenants, and thus improve stockholder value.


We are committed to integrated portfolio-wide strategies for energy efficiency and sustainability. We have requirements in our buildings for practices to enhance the health and wellness of our building occupants during design, construction, operations and maintenance. Our sustainability program is structured around quantifiable improvement in key areas, including: energy efficiency, water efficiency, recycling and waste diversion and healthy work environments for our tenants and employees (indoor environmental quality, or “IEQ”). Key performance indicators allow us to measure the success of our sustainability efforts.

Our sustainability priorities are shaped by our Sustainability Committee. The Sustainability Committee meets quarterly, and its standing members include our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, other named executive officers, a number of our senior executives, property construction and operations executives, and an outside consultant. The Sustainability Committee’s agenda has been customized over time to reflect the company’s proactive leadership and commitment to results.

High performance design and construction guidelines are integrated into all of our leases. These guidelines include performance-based criteria for energy, water, healthy IEQ, responsible materials specifications and waste diversion. Our lease requirements allow for collaboration between tenant and landlord to achieve efficiency improvements. We share energy, water, waste and IEQ data with our tenants and provide them with expertise and on-going advice to ensure continued efficient performance.

We engage in numerous ways on our sustainability efforts, including through the below initiatives:

Key Performance Indicators

We continue to grow our sustainability initiatives based upon innovation and continuous feedback from our tenants and other constituents:

  • Education and engagement with our tenants at annual town hall meetings, one-on-one customized meetings, tenant Green Committee meetings, education materials in emails and on our elevator screens, and building events;
  • Training sessions with building engineers and property managers on code changes, demand management, building management systems, recycling and tenant energy management;
  • Monitoring and verification of energy efficiency measures within tenant spaces;
  • Dedicated sessions during leasing, broker and project management meetings; and
  • Sessions with our employees at ESRT University, which provides educational seminars.

We have developed a comprehensive goal-setting, tracking and reporting sustainability program, reported via our portfolio sustainability matrix that is built around investment and return-oriented measures of success and verified benefits to our employees and tenants. We choose to pursue our own approach rather than participate in certain third-party certification programs of limited utility. We believe our approach advances our sustainability and our tenants’ goals with quantifiable results.

Our customized approach to comprehensive energy efficiency and sustainability at our properties is summarized in our ESRT Portfolio Sustainability Matrix.

Download Matrix (PDF)

Leadership, Awards, and Recognition

We are industry leaders and have achieved recognition for our leadership in energy performance, green leasing, purchasing of renewable energy, the Urban Land Institute’s Tenant Energy Optimization Program and Energy Star for Tenant Spaces. We have received the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Green Power and Green Lease Leaders Awards.

Our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer speaks nationally and internationally on the subject of energy efficiency in the existing built environment. He is also the Chair of the Real Estate Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory.

Energy Star and Energy Star for Tenant Spaces

2014 Inaugural Green Lease Leaders Award from the Institute for Market Transformation

Green Power Purchasing

ULI Tenant Energy Optimization Program

Sustainability Policy Advisory

Sustainability Committee

Goals and Progress

We regularly review our portfolio-wide strategies for sustainable, energy and water-efficient design, construction, and operations, including green cleaning, pest control, and recycling/waste diversion programs. We have led the industry in the development of cost-justified programs and initiatives, and the use of those throughout our portfolio.

Our groundbreaking deep energy retrofit project at the Empire State Building serves as a leading global business model. Our vision was to set an example the world could follow that proves energy- efficiency retrofits, when done right, can and will save money and deliver measurable ROI. All project information is publicly available and open source (esbsustainability.com) from which the entire world can learn and benefit.

Empire State Realty Trust is committed to New York City’s plan to cut energy use 20% by 2030 to achieve the City’s pathway to cut energy use 80% by 2050.

Tenant Engagement

Because our tenants’ energy usage impacts our overall building performance, we partner with our tenants to drive return-on-investment-based energy efficiency by monitoring our reduction in energy consumption for our buildings and tenants. Our energy efficiency practices not only help save tenants money through reduced direct utility costs, but they also create healthy workplace environments. To the extent the energy sources we use produce carbon, there are lower carbon emissions from our comprehensive work.

Our Chairman and CEO led the independently funded program which developed case studies on practices for high performing tenant installations and made that information available as the Tenant Energy Optimization Program at the Urban Land Institute for which project information is publicly available and open source at https://tenantenergy.uli.org.

Our team of experts conducts on-going monitoring and verification audits and Tenant Energy Management (TEM) analytics. High performance tenant design and construction guidelines are implemented.


The Empire State Building team developed a replicable, transparent, non-proprietary, open-source process that proves sustainability is a smart business decision. All project information is publicly available and open source at www.esbsustainability.com.

We achieve energy savings through holistic audits and retro-commissioning to identify and implement energy conservation measures throughout the ESRT portfolio to attain Energy Star certification whenever possible. 84% of our portfolio by eligible floor area is Energy Star certified. A team of experts evaluates the following factors which influence whole building energy.

  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
  • Energy management software and programs
  • Lighting and lighting controls
  • Plug load and plug load controls
  • Building Management Systems (BMS)

* Each space is individually designed, and performance is unique to each execution.

Energy Star-certified buildings meet strict energy performance standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. They use less energy, are less expensive to operate, and have a reduced impact on the environment.

The chart below shows our annual average energy use per square foot across our portfolio and the applicable year-end occupancy percentage.

ESRT Energy Star Certifications


Indoor Environmental Quality

In an effort to improve the IEQ in our buildings, we have upgraded our systems to improve efficiencies and tenant comfort levels through demand controlled ventilation, CO2 sensors, air purification systems and the installation of higher performance air filters. Furthermore, we and our tenants are required to use low or no Volatile Organic Compound (“VOC”) paints, wall covering, carpet, base, and adhesives in all projects.

We have implemented best practices in green cleaning, using Green Seal products and practices, as well as integrated pest management (“IPM”) procedures, including the use of Green Shield Certified products and vendors to minimize the impact to the environment and the overall well-being of our tenants. We perform regular IEQ testing to ensure all VOCs, particulate matter, CO2, CO and other contaminants remain below the most stringent acceptable levels. The graphic below shows the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the energy use in our buildings and the applicable year-end occupancy percentage.


Water Use Reduction

We strive to reduce water usage and promote conservation efforts by implementing water conservation initiatives such as ultra-low flow water closets, urinals, lavatory sinks and efficient cleaning and landscaping policies. Aggregate water usage across our portfolio may vary year-over-year based upon factors such as weather, building population at different points during the year and changes in retail usage in the building. Below are several of our historical water use metrics that demonstrate the aggregate results of our water use reduction efforts across our portfolio over time, alongside the applicable year-end occupancy percentage:


Waste Management and Recycling

We recycle tenant waste and construction debris throughout our entire portfolio. Our goal is to increase recycling diversion rates and the types of materials recycled, both in daily waste and in renovation and new construction. Our team provides tenant education programs to ensure waste is diverted from landfills at every step, from the individual employee, to the bins on tenants’ floors, to the cleaning team, to the waste hauler and customized recycling, reuse and donation programs.