Green Is the New...
New York City’s public housing complexes are small cities unto themselves, sealed off from the grid and flow of surrounding streets, pinwheels of bricks and concrete with scant patches of green. Built in 1956, Forest Houses, a 46-building New York City Housing Authority complex in the Morrisania section of the Bronx, is characteristic of its era. Besides the fact that the buildings top out at two stories, they do not relate to their immediate environment, let alone the environment.
More than 50 years later, affordable housing remains one of the city’s greatest challenges (if not its greatest). The architecture, on the other hand, has improved considerably. Arbor House, a privately-owned 124-unit, housing complex that abuts Forest Houses, opened today at 770 East 166th Street. It boasts not only energy-efficient features and a living green wall, but also a 10,000 square foot hydroponic rooftop farm.
Insulation isn’t generally considered glamorous (it is, after all, wedged between walls most of the time), but its moment has finally come. Brooklyn, that most eco-conscious of boroughs, is getting two new passive house apartment buildings, Curbed reports.
With the exception of a deadly construction accident in March, things have been fairly quiet on the western front of Harlem. Starting nearly a decade ago, Manhattanville became one of the most hotly contested corners of the city, as Columbia University first worked to have the neighborhood rezoned for a new 17-acre campus, approved in 2007, followed by the state leading an eminent domain case on the school’s behalf to repossess the land of two local business owners, which culminated in 2010. (Since then, the city’s focus has shifted south, to another university-led redevelopment.)
All the while, Columbia has gone about the work of creating the most environmentally progressive neighborhood in the entire five boroughs, all from whole cloth.
Last week, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded Columbia’s new campus with LEED ND Platinum, the highest rating in the council’s new-ish neighborhood development program. It is only the fifth project in the state to earn such recognition, and the first to achieve LEED ND Platinum. The designation means that the project has embraced the goals of accessibility, density, design and environmental efficiency, creating a model for future development.
“We like to think of it as a three-legged stool: environment, economy, equity,” Jason Hercules, director of the LEED ND program, told The Observer. “Manhattanville excelled in all three.”
Jason Black has found that going green can become a habit.
The director of architecture and sustainability for Reckson, a division of SL Green, said the firm began its green initiatives by recycling carpet and ceiling tiles in its suburban office portfolio, then graduated to lighting retrofits and to installing a solar Read More
I am frequently asked, “Why build green?” I find the question naïve and slightly exasperating. Besides the ethical and moral imperatives of reversing climate change and conserving natural resources, green buildings are like color televisions or cars with headlights: They are more functional, more enjoyable realizations of the technologies that preceded them. Green buildings are Read More
Commercial Observer: What have you been up to since stepping down as co-president?
Douglas Durst: I’m starting to step away and attend less meetings and come in a little later and that’s been terrific. My father taught me that you go for cocktails and then you have somebody say ‘I just saw him over there,’ Read More
So, you don’t have a job. Could you get one by being green?
In the last year, the U.S. Green Building Council has held two green jobs fairs in New York for would-be sustainable designers and the businesses who want them, drawing about 300 people each. At the third, held last Friday at N.Y.U.’s Read More
It’s becoming easier and easier to gin up enthusiasm for high-end green buildings: the glass-and-steel confections bedecked with solar panels and topped with pricey shrubs. But what if you can’t pay for cutting-edge technology? Can housing for the masses be eco-friendly too?
At a Thursday morning conference organized by the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Read More
The Wall Street crash and nose-diving gas prices have taken the air out of some environmental initiatives lately—federal climate change legislation, for example, and a few big renewable energy projects.
But in New York City, by at least one metric, environmentalism is going strong: Driven by growing demand for eco-friendly living and working space, Read More
From the Journal‘s breakdown of what a green roof is and how to get one: "The amount of green roofing in New York more than doubled to 123,074 square feet from 2004 to 2007, according to surveys by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities-North America Inc. That is an area roughly equal to about Read More