The Oil Drum: New York City

Helping New Yorkers understand, prepare and adapt to the implications of Peak Oil

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Green Building Tour

This evening I took at tour of the "The Solaire" a 27 story, 293 unit building that was the first to be built under the Battery Park City Authority's groundbreaking Residential Environmental Guidelines. These “Green Guidelines” were developed in 1999 as a vision for the construction of environmentally responsible buildings in New York State. It was built in 2003 within a stone's throw from Ground Zero. The land itself was actually landfill from the excavation of the original WTC site.

Though the Green Guidelines required energy efficiency 30% greater than what was mandated by the NYS Energy Code, The Solaire uses 35% less energy than a similar building designed to NYS code requirements, and 65% less electricity during peak demand periods. In addition, the building's design incorporated 382 small solar panels, which generate no less than 5% of the building's base electrical load, but only in common areas, not the apartments themselves. I was less than impressed that the designers had simply done the minimum necessary to get the tax credit.

While the solar panels are highly decorative, I wasn't as impressed with them as I was with the water treatment system The Solaire contains an onsite wastewater treatment facility – the first in the nation to be built inside a multi-family residential building – as well as a stormwater reuse system. Together with other water conservation strategies, these features result in a building that consumes 33-50% less potable water than a traditional building of comparable size. But just don't ask what's in sludge pipe. :)

Rather than a real model for sustainable living, I see the building as a transitional test case for even more environmentally friendly building in the future, giving planners something real to base future assumptions off of and prove that certain ideas work practically & economically. I read one estimate saying that rents at the Solaire (which range from a $3000/mo studio to a $4500/mo 2 bedroom) were about 5-10% higher than a similar building proving that people were willing to pay extra for a green building.

Now I wonder if I can convince my landlord to reduce the lighting in the hallways which are bright 24/7?

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At 11:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 1:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is very unamerican. we need to use as much energy as possible to justify our military hegemony. take that SUV to the berkshires for the
week end and burn some go juice. praise george.

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