For Immediate Release
April 22, 2020
Contact:, (212) 393-2126


In partnership with the Urban Tech Hub @ Company, entrepreneurs are invited to propose new technologies to help cut emissions from NYC’s buildings

New York, NY – Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca today announced the launch of the Carbon Neutrality Innovation Challenge, DOB’s first-ever competition to solicit ideas to increase energy efficiency among NYC’s buildings. As part of Mayor de Blasio’s historic Green New Deal, NYC plans to be carbon neutral by 2050. Innovative companies from the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s Urban Tech Initiative will work directly with DOB to propose ideas to achieve this goal.

Five semifinalists will be asked to present their proposals at DOB’s Build Safe / Live Safe conference on September 25, 2020. The competition winner will be considered for future opportunities like technical support and prioritized assistance with introducing their technology to NYC's design and construction industries. The winner will also be featured in upcoming DOB industry seminars and events highlighting the new frontier of building sustainability technology.

“Climate change is an existential threat to our city, and one that New Yorkers will meet with our characteristic creativity, passion and determination,” said DOB Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca. “We look forward to harnessing the best ideas presented by innovative companies to bring forward new technologies to make our built environment part of the solution to this unprecedented challenge.”

The Challenge is looking for ideas across the sustainability spectrum, including:

  • Energy storage
  • Distributed generation
  • Buildings systems, management and operations
  • Building materials and insulation
  • Reducing “embodied carbon” that is stored or emitted during construction

Submitted proposals will be evaluated by the DOB’s in-house Innovation Committee and by the agency's Buildings Sustainability Board, invitations for which will be sent in the coming days. The Board will include subject-matter experts on sustainability drawn from the city's real estate, design, and construction industries. Both committees will evaluate proposals on feasibility, impact and innovation. Companies within the EDC’s Urban Tech Initiative that are working on sustainable technologies are eligible to enter this challenge.

The competition continues DOB’s work to spearhead new initiatives to combat climate change. Current legislation include passage of the 2020 Energy Code, which sets strict guidelines for new construction, solar panel requirements for new and renovated buildings, mandated energy emission retrofits for buildings by 2024, a new Climate Advisory Board and upcoming energy efficiency scores and letter grades that buildings will be required to display.

“Amid the immediate Coronavirus pandemic, we cannot lose sight of our commitment to protect people’s health from the looming climate crisis,” said Daniel Zarrilli, NYC’s Chief Climate Policy Advisor and OneNYC Director. “New York City will continue to implement its world-leading Green New Deal by divesting from fossil fuels, getting emissions to net zero, and creating a resilient and inclusive city. While these challenges are unprecedented, so are the opportunities for emerging stronger by promoting the kinds of innovation that will be inspired by this new sustainability challenge as we work to secure a livable future for the next generation.”

“Buildings are New York City’s biggest source of carbon emissions, and a monumental frontier in our fight against climate change,” said Mark Chambers, Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “To achieve our ambitious goals we need efforts like this to accelerate innovation and deliver forward thinking, inclusive solutions.”

“Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing New York City and we must take bold action right now to protect the City for generations to come,” said James Patchett, president and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “Governments play a critical role in this effort but they can’t do it alone. New technologies and innovative solutions - created in close partnership with the private sector - are key to cutting emissions, making our economy greener and building a more sustainable future.”

“Reducing greenhouse gases and combating climate change are among the greatest environmental challenges we face as a City, State and society as a whole,” said Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn), Chair of the Assembly’s Housing Committee. “This competition is a great way to think outside the box and inspire innovative solutions that will have a lasting effect on our ability to create a sustainable, cleaner city for generations to come.”

“This week marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Week and as we work together tirelessly to combat the COVID crisis, we must also accelerate our work to confront the climate crisis. For the COVID crisis, we did not have much advance warning. For the climate crisis, we have a mountain of advance warning: of what we are doing that is accelerating the crisis, of the devastating harm that’s coming across the globe, of the disparate impact that low-income communities of color will face,” said Council Member Brad Lander. New York City set ambitious goals for reducing emissions with aggressive targets for buildings by 2030 and 2050, and we are going to need to bring all of our creativity and political will to bear to ensure that we meet them."

"As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day today, it's a time for reflection about what we want for our planet and our city for the next 50 years,” said Robinson Hernandez, Executive Director of Urban Tech Hub @ Company. “New York City has some of the most innovative tech companies in the world, and we're excited to collaborate with them as we rethink our impact on the environment today and for the future.”

“It is essential that the design and tech communities work together to prepare our city for a more sustainable future,” said Benjamin Prosky, Executive Director the American Institute of Architects. “The Sustainability Innovation Design Challenge will make New York City a testing ground for new sustainable technologies in buildings, and we applaud the Department of Buildings for launching this initiative to make our city greener."

“This competition is an innovative way to tap into New York’s entrepreneurial spirit and encourage energy efficiency, said James Whelan, REBNY President. “We remain committed to helping to achieve our City’s climate goals even as we confront the unprecedented challenges brought about by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.”

“The Green New Deal, aka Local Law 97, embodies multiple aggressive benchmarks for the city to achieve its carbon neutral goals, and will require a true collaborative effort to achieve success,” said Hani Salama, Chair/CEO of BOMA New York. “The DOB is leading by example via its alliance with a local incubator to create the ‘Build Safe / Live Safe’ competition. We look forward to the many innovative concepts that will assist the built environment with sustainable energy solutions.”

“Innovation in building technology is needed to ramp up carbon neutrality, so this program comes at the right place and the right time,” said John Mandyck, CEO of Urban Green Council. “Now more than ever, we need to signal the demand for low carbon technologies to keep innovation flowing.”

For more information about sustainability at the Department of Buildings, visit our website.

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