Bring the Retrofit Market To Scale

Nearly 85 percent of existing buildings are likely to be with us in 2050, so driving down energy use in existing buildings is essential to addressing climate change. Urban Green uses all its levers – education, policy and research – to help reach this formidable goal.

Anyone who has ever lived in a typical New York City apartment or worked in a standard New York office knows that we are wasting energy—windows open in the depth of winter, buildings ablaze with light in the dead of night. Opportunities to save energy and money stare us down every day.

Fortunately, we know how to retrofit buildings, and we have many great examples to draw from. But knowing how to fix inefficiencies one building at a time is different from tackling the more than a million buildings in New York City.

Before we can optimize the energy savings from retrofits, we need to simplify the process. A typical building retrofit involves at least 10 steps. In addition, our research indicates that each year, only about one percent of buildings may be reaching current code levels through retrofits—but we don’t have 100 years to address the problem. We aim to increase the number of buildings that complete retrofits while reducing time and costs.


  • Answering tough questions about building electrification that will help NYC reach 80x50.
  • Identifying best practices for improving steam heat in small buildings.
  • Creating a much-needed 101-level guidance for targeted owner groups on how to execute retrofits.
  • Expanding energy efficiency training.
  • Evaluating soft cost barriers to retrofit advancement.