Three Firsts for Green Buildings

NY Governor George Pataki dedicated the first “green” residential high rise building – The Solaire in Battery Park City in downtown New York City. It is first new residential construction completed in the area (near the former World Trade Center) since September 11, 2001, and is the first beneficiary of the state’s green building tax credit.

The 27 story, 293 unit building will use 35% less energy (65% less during peak hours) and half the water of comparable conventional buildings. The design and materials result in healthier indoor air and more natural light. A building integrated solar system (BIPV) supplies 5% of the electricity. The Solaire has an on-site black water system to eliminate the use of potable water for the building’s flush system and supply the heating, ventilation and air conditioning cooling tower. It also contains a storm water catchment system to irrigate the rooftop garden. “The Solaire’s dedication to energy efficiency, air quality, water conservation and preservation of natural resources is groundbreaking, establishing it as a benchmark for urban sustainable development and for “green” buildings worldwide,” said Pataki (excerpted from Environmental News Service).

At the other spectrum of green building, Builders for Social Responsibility, a group of Vermont builders, is encouraging people to build small homes. Their building rating system, like many others around the country, awards certification based on a set of required measures and optional green features. The unique aspect of the Vermont Built Green program is that it also awards points for smaller-than-average houses and subtracts points for larger-than-average houses.


And the first LEED-certified low-income housing project opened its doors in Seattle. Traugott Terrace, a $4 million 39,000-square-foot housing project, is a 50-unit building for people with median incomes of 30% or less for the area. 12 of the apartments are reserved for people in transition from being homeless. The Seattle Office of Housing asked the building’s developer to design it to LEED standards
after they received $6.4 million in low-income housing tax credits and affordable housing funds. According to a July 22 Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce article, because the builders expected LEED construction specifications to add to the expense, they were written so they could easily be omitted if it the cost ended up being too high. Because subcontractors came in with low bid and the apartments were small, the project came in on budget. “I think it’s really incredible to hear Fortune 500 companies say they can’t afford to build green buildings, but low-income housing developers can,” said Lynne Barker, a sustainable building specialist with the City of Seattle. (excerpted from Green Clips).

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