Back in 2009, Stephen delivered a nice post on 100 Gold Street, a green low-rise condominium development in Brooklyn’s Vinegar Hill designed by Anthony Morena’s REDD Group. The list of green features at 100 Gold Street will be familiar to gbNYC readers — you’ve got your dual-flush toilets and your low-VOC and recycled and locally sourced finishes and your Energy Star appliances and so on — but are no less impressive for their familiarity. Just because those green finishes and fixtures are frequently seen at gbNYC doesn’t mean they’re ubiquitous by any stretch, and 100 Gold had (and still has) a legit claim as both the first green condominium in Vinegar Hill and one of the greener condominium developments in Brooklyn. What it doesn’t have is any intention of pursuing LEED certification that might attest to that. In his post on 100 Gold, Stephen wrote, “I’m curious about the decision-making process for each of these two developers in opting to market their projects as “green” and “eco-friendly” rather than pursuing formal certification and applying the LEED brand to their marketing materials.” Now, thanks to a report by New York One’s Shazia Khan, we have an answer from Morena himself.
No points for guessing that answer, though — the onerous/annoying cost of LEED certification for smaller developments is another frequent topic here at gbNYC, so it’s not much of a surprise to hear from Morena that the $50,000-plus cost of LEED certification was more than he was willing to pay. “We designed the building with LEED Silver specifications in mind,” Morena told Khan, “but we felt that the money would be put to better use spending on the finishes and the materials that people would feel and touch, instead of paying for the certification.” While Morena was clearly willing to pay the costs associated with building green — “We can show them the receipts,” is the reassurance he offers skeptical buyers — it seems reasonable to assume that it was the “soft costs” associated with LEED certification (documenting compliance and the like) that put him off. Which is a shame, but not terribly hard to understand in this era of narrowing profit margins.
Another point worth making in this debate is made — in hilariously pointed fashion — by eco-broker Susan Singer in the New York One piece. “It might draw them in, ‘oh it’s LEED Gold’ or whatever, but there are LEED Gold buildings that have a sheet of window facing south and their energy efficiencies are terrible and their cost of cooling the place is higher than a building that isn’t LEED Gold,” Singer said. “So the savvy buyer is going to know what exactly they are buying.” Obviously Morena is counting on just that.