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From the Botanical Garden to Silvercup Studios: Going Green in the Borough of Queens

While (some of us anxiously) wait and see if the Mets’ CitiField will join the new ballpark in Washington for the Nationals in seeking LEED certification, a variety of other ambitious green projects are either underway or in the works over in Queens.

The Queens Botanical Garden

The first, the Queens Botantical Garden’s Sustainable Landscapes and Building Project in Flushing should open by this coming spring. Designed to attain LEED Platinum, the 15,831 square foot Visitor/Administration Building (image above) features building-integrated photovoltaic panels which will supply 17% of the building’s electricity needs, Forest Stewardship Council (“FSC”) certified interior and exterior wood, a green roof, and geothermal and graywater systems. Additionally, over 90% of waste materials generated during construction of the building were recycled. A separate 6,229 square foot, prefabricated steel Horticulture/Maintenance Building is not pursuing LEED certification, but features FSC-certified exterior cedar siding and corrugated translucent panels to maximize interior daylighting. Green landscaping elements include an integrated strategy of managing stormwater on site with bioswales, rainwater recycling, and of course the Visitor Building’s green roof. The Project Team consists of BKSK Architects, Weidlinger Associates (structural/civil), the Conservation Design Forum (landscape architects), and Steven Winter Associates (environmental building consultant), among others, at a project cost of $17.52 million.

Green Roofs Work in Queens

Queens has generally lagged behind Manhattan in high-profile, high-rise green development for a variety of reasons- from lack of developer interest to its comparatively low-density. However, the borough’s origins as a manufacturing base for the rest of New York have left behind numerous low-rise former warehouses and factories with flat roof profiles. This type of building stock, as it turns out, will easily accommodate green roofs. In Long Island City alone, enough flat-topped buildings exist to create 667 acres of green roofs- roughly the size of Brooklyn’s massive Prospect Park. For example, Silvercup Studios unveiled a 35,000 square foot green roof in Long Island City back in August of 2005. One former manufacturing building being outfitted with a green roof is the former Gratz Industries Building (also in Long Island City). Nonprofit organization Earth Pledge is overseeing the project, designed by the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development (image below).

Solar-Powered Trash Compactors

Finally, at various locations on sidewalk corners throughout the borough, an organization called Clean Air Communities has installed 45 solar-powered trash compactors dubbed “Big Bellies.” Green trash cans that look like mailboxes, these receptacles cost $4,000 each, have a 10 year warranty, and are able to reduce garbage content by 75 percent.


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