Meet New York City’s First All-Electric Skyscraper

Nothing at this scale has been done in NYC before.

Downtown Brooklyn skyline from the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.

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While all-electric homes have been gaining in popularity as a way to be greener and use less fossil fuels, all electric skyscrapers with many apartments are much harder to due. That’s why a new skyscraper in New York City is changing the way we think about environmental buildings.

The 44-story building  going up at 505 State Street in downtown Brooklyn will be the first residential tower in the city to operate without using fossil fuels, according to design boom. But scaling up the all-electric homes to this level presents a unique set of challenges.

Reimagining infrastructure
The building, designed by Alloy Development, had to reimagine how infrastructure is done. Skyscrapers usually contain a complex web of gas pipes and boilers to heat and provide hot water. But to build 505 State Street, the developers had to provide high-capacity electrical lines, entirely electric HVAC systems, and to enroll in  a community solar project that can secure 100 percent renewable energy.

Another problem that required innovative solutions was how to provide hot water for so many apartments, reported Fast Company. Most large buildings use gas to heat water.

“The primary engineering problem to solve was domestic hot water,” Jared Della Valle, CEO of Alloy Development, told Fast Company. “On the big building scale side of the equation, there wasn’t a whole lot of equipment available.”

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The designers had to come up with a way to reduce the amount of hot water needed. They discovered that the best way to provide a sustainable outcome was to put high efficiency windows with triple-paned glass and to insulate the walls so that heat and cooling would not leak out.

“The less you need air conditioning and the less you need heating, the less energy you’ll use overall, and therefore we can reduce the size of our systems and get them to a place, from an engineering perspective, where we can create enough hot water and enough energy to satisfy those demands,” Della Valle said. “It’s really not that complicated at the end of the day.”

New regulations are making it easier to build sustainable skyscrapers
A lot of things have changed since the building was first conceived. There are new laws and regulations that are aiding projects like 505 State Street.

 A federal law passed in 2022 called The Inflation Reduction Act calls for a large decarbonization of the energy and building industries. And NYC Local Law 97 will require buildings that are larger than 25,000 square feet to keep to lower carbon emissions. Instead of gas stoves, the new skyscraper will have highly efficient induction cooktops.

 When the skyscraper was first being designed,  Della Valle said it was possible to do but not easy. Now, five years later,  the technology has improved due to the new regulations, it has become simpler to do.

“We’re building a building for 100 years, so we can’t make decisions based on the context we see now,” Della Valle said. “We have to make decisions based on the context we see ahead of us.”

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Not Just about the environment
Alloy development just opened leasing for the apartments, according to design boom. All will feature real oak flooring, concrete walls, and high ceilings. The apartments will incorporate smart home technology so that residents can optimize energy use with their smart phones.

The building has green spaces and recreational areas to bring nature to the residents. There will be a 24-hour attended lobby, bike storage space, in-building laundry, children’s play area, gym, yoga area and even a pet wash area. The 42 nd floor features a rooftop pool, terrace, and reservable cabanas.

This shows that buildings can be green and still offer creature comforts.  Hopefully 505 State Street will inspire other designers to go all-electric in their next residential towers.

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