International Cleantech Network

Empire Building Challenge

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the International Cleantech Network (ICN), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) designed to enhance collaboration on decarbonizing high-rise buildings in New York State through engaging ICN members companies to provide potential solutions for the Empire Building Challenge.

The Empire Building Challenge will spur economic growth and renewal in New York by attracting best-in-class manufacturers, solution providers, and entrepreneurs from around the world to help transform our existing building stock into the buildings of the future. Investing in the most promisingnovel approaches to retrofitting our tallest buildings will transform the high-rise building market and position the State as an epicentre of the low carbon retrofit industry.

Empire Building Challenge Partners

Empire Building Challenge (EBC) partners are looking for high-impact solution providers in the following technology focus areas that are critical enablers and first steps towards carbon-neutral retrofits in large buildings.:

Specifically, they are seeking technologies within:

Advanced Heat Pump Solutions for Large Buildings

Heat pump technology is evolving rapidly. A significant need exists for various format heat pumps to allow for phased decarbonization and eliminate on-site fossil fuel consumption.

  • Cold climate design with start-of-the-art refrigerant (i.e. CO2)
  • High COP heat pumps such as packaged units combining cooling and heating systems to provide simultaneous cooling and heating and energy recovery
  • Geothermal and storage sourced heat pumps

Building Energy Distribution Design Innovation

Innovations in building energy distribution can reduce heat transfer losses and enable efficient low carbon heating and cooling sources.

  • District thermal network optimization
  • Technology enabling low-temperature water loops
  • Wastewater or condensate heat recovery
  • Steam to hot water distribution system conversion
  • Energy recovery units for ventilation and outside air system

Thermal Storage Technologies

Thermal storage can reduce equipment sizes, enable waste heat utilization, and help overcome electrical capacity constraints with demand flexibility.

  • Phase change material
  • Waste heat recovery storage
  • Ice storage
  • IT and data centre cooling optimization
  • Building-to-Grid integration


The members of ICN are characterized by their public-private setups which involves SMEs and other stakeholders from various industries such as water, circular economy and energy. Together, ICN clusters mobilize a large breadth of cleantech ecosystems. ICN’s 22 members meet on a regular basis, have personal relationships and mutual trust and confidence, all of which are key to the organization's activities. These members represent the world’s leading cleantech regions, connecting thousands of organizations consisting of businesses, public authorities and research institutions.