10 of the Greenest Buildings in New York City

Eco-friendly features in real estate can be attractive to investors, buyers, tenants, and other stakeholders. With constantly improving technology and materials that make green building design easier than ever before, we are seeing an influx in the number of green buildings in New York City. Check out 10 of the greenest buildings in the City and learn what makes them so popular.

The Greenwich Lane

Located at 55 West 11th Street, the Greenwich Lane is LEED Certified Gold. In fact, it was the first LEED Gold Residential Development pre-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. One reason for this classification was the parking garage design, which features secure and accessible bike storage as well as EV charging stations.

The landscape does not require any potable water, thanks to the stormwater collection process, and the building further uses efficient plumbing fixtures. During the building process, a number of eco-friendly materials were used including recycled content, local materials, low-emitting adhesives, paints, substrates, and flooring, and high efficiency LED lighting fixtures.

The Hearst Tower

Hearst Tower, located at 300 West 57th Street and 959 Eight Avenue, was the first building in New York City to receive Gold LEED rating for core, shell, and interiors. In 2012 it went on to earn the Platinum LEED Rating for Existing Buildings, which made it the first building in the world to earn both Gold and Platinum certification.

The company follows a robust policy of constantly evaluating energy use and finding opportunities for saving, which has allowed it to reduce energy consumption by more than 40% since the property was built. This puts it in the top 10% of efficient commercial properties throughout the country. It was also the first NYC commercial building to have a composting program, and it now composts 100% of its wet food waste and has reduced total waste to the landfill by more than 80%. Further, water usage has been lowered by almost a third, in part due to the 100% use of reclaimed non-potable water for all cleaning and landscape maintenance.

One World Trade Center

When One World Trade Center was awarded LEED Gold Certification in 2016, it became the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere with that designation. Though a number of design and implementation choices led to its environmental designation, there were several features integrated into the architectural design that were particularly impressive.

For example, the skin of the building used an insulated spandrel, which allows natural light into more than 90% of the office areas. This not only reduces lighting needs and heating costs, it improves the quality of the space. Likewise, its glass enclosure was designed with a low-E glass coating that minimized heat gain. The property is located at 285 Fulton Street.

225 Columbia

The Passive House designation 225 Columbia has earned means the property is energy efficient, has established noise reduction, and has fresh, filtered air throughout. This was completed by adding super insulation, additional air sealing, triple-paned windows, mechanical ventilation – including heat recovery – and other innovative heating and cooling tech. The goal of the developer was to find the right balance between creating an eco-friendly space and a space that is comfortable for tenants.

The Schermerhorn

It’s true that the Schermerhorn does not have LEED certification but its many green features – coupled with the uniqueness of its purpose – give it the right to a spot on this list. The property is the result of a collaboration between the public and private sectors and is located in Brooklyn at 160 Schermerhorn Street. This eleven-story building has 116 units, which are occupied by people who have experienced homelessness, those with special needs, and people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as low-income members of the community. It is a perfect reminder that it is not just office buildings and high-end condos that can prioritize green features.

Many of the residents are involved in the arts, which is the reason for the inclusion of a dance studio operated by the Brooklyn Ballet and a 2,000-square-foot performance space that is overseen and operated by the Actors Fund. Sustainable aspects of the property include the glass-faced façade, high-efficiency boiler, the use of recycled building materials, and a rooftop garden.

The Bank of America Tower

LEED Platinum-certified , The Bank of America Tower is located at 1 Bryant Park, West 43rd Street. The developers say that the entire property was inspired by and built for “biophilia,” a person’s innate need for connection to their natural environment. As a result, there is an emphasis on utilizing daylight, fresh air, and other types of natural inputs.

Though Bank of America is the primary tenant of the building, it is also home to the LEED Gold certified Stephen Sondheim Theater, Broadway’s first green theater, an urban garden room on the street level, and a mid-block pedestrian passage space that doubles as a performance space.

The Empire State Building

One of the most iconic buildings in the world, The Empire State Building is also a LEED Gold-certified building. When it was first classified as such in 2011, it was both the tallest and most well-known property in the country to earn Gold status, and it remains one of the few National Historic Landmarks to have earned the designation.

Some of the steps that led to the certification include the installation of ultra-low-flow fixtures in restrooms throughout the building, the use of recycled carpets, green cleaning supplies, eco-friendly pest control, low off-gassing wall coverings, and recycled paper products. The building also recycles tenant waste and construction debris.


Toren, another Brooklyn property, is located at 150 Myrtle Avenue. Features that helped this 38-story residential property earn LEED Gold Certification include a rainscreen system in the base, coupled with the basement’s cogeneration plant, which supplies all the power and water for tenants and the building, as well as innovative fresh air initiatives.

10 Hudson Yards

The LEED Platinum Certified property at 10 Hudson Yards is a truly unique building. Built both over and under railroads, green initiatives include onsite power generation, constant changes to power and temperature demands based on real flow and environmental conditions, heat control via complicated network of tubing that moves cooling liquid throughout the property, a robust ventilation system powered by 15 fans, smart soil to allow aeration and prevent erosion, and the use of a 60,000-gallon tank to collect and reuse rainwater.

Perch Harlem

Perch Harlem, a passive house located at 542 West 153rd Street in Hamilton Heights, is one of the most energy efficient buildings in New York City. Designed to be air-tight without thermal bridges, the units actually use the waste heat from home appliances, such as stoves, hot water heaters, and dryers, to warm the building. The developers promise as much as 90% less energy use thanks to this passive method.

These uniquely eco-friendly buildings in New York City are setting the bar for new developers and tenants alike. What will be the next iconic New York property to receive awards for sustainability?