Late last week, the boards of the New York State Housing Finance Agency and the New York State Affordable Housing Corporation approved $181.6 million in financing to build and preserve 2060 units of affordable housing throughout New York State. Included in those figures is the Hegeman Residence, a five-story, 161-unit project in the Brownsville section of East Brooklyn that will be developed by Common Ground at 39 Hegeman Avenue. Designed by Cook + Fox Architects, the Hegeman Residence will pursue a LEED Silver rating from USGBC and exclusively offer studios, 61 of which will be set aside for low-income individuals from the surrounding neighborhood (which, incidentally, is one of the poorest in New York City and where a disproportionate number of residents become homeless). The remaining 100 studios will be designated for homeless adults living with HIV/AIDS or mental illness. Sustainable design features at the Hegeman Residence will include a green roof, lighting and motion sensors, and building management, efficient HVAC, and graywater systems. Residents will also enjoy amenities that include a 24/7 attended lobby, computer center, fitness and laundry facilities, and common garden space.
As you may know, the non-profit community developer Common Ground was founded in 1990 and, this year, will open its 3000th unit of permanent and transitional housing in New York City, Connecticut, and upstate New York; the developer’s goal is to create 4000 additional units of housing for the homeless by 2015. The Hegeman Residence will join other Common Ground projects that have implemented sustainable design features, including the Lower East Side’s Lee; Common Ground actually launched its own Green Design Campaign in 2007, which incorporates environmentally sustainable materials and practices into the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of all its new residences. It’s always great to see this type of development in neighborhoods like Brownsville; at gbNYC we’ve always maintained that by any definition, sustainability should be about more than just a carbon footprint. Strong communities that not only respect the natural environment but first offer residents affordable basic services are an indispensable foundation of the green movement and cannot be excluded from a consideration of what exactly is, or is not, sustainable.