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While Senior Citizens Are Waiting, Brooklyn Green Building Triples in Cost

Three years after it was slated to open, the Carmine Carro Senior Center in Marine Park, Brooklyn (pictured above) is still under construction, and local residents are blaming the delay on the project’s green building features, which are mandated under New York City’s Local Law 86 of 2008.

The project itself dates from 2004, when its budget was $5 million. At the time, New York City’s Parks Department put the project out to bid twice, but couldn’t find a contractor that was able to bring it in under bid. The reason? According to the Brooklyn View, Local Law 86, which required the project to target LEED Silver certification from USGBC. But in 2008, the city increased the budget to $11 million, the Parks Department, secured a contractor, and the the project broke ground.

Designed in-house by Bruce Eisenberg, the Parks Department’s Director of Architecture, the Senior Center will feature rooftop solar panels and a geothermal heating and cooling system. Its green roof is circular by design in order to increase the reduction in local heat island effect and reduce stormwater runoff.

But according to the Daily Newswhich recently reported the story and anonymously quoted a construction worker at the site that “a lot” of work still remains to complete the project – the Senior Center’s most complicated green design feature is its geothermal heating and cooling system. “We’re a blue-collar community,” local resident John Manzola, told the News. “When we hear astronomical numbers on this project for what we’re getting — two bathrooms and a grass roof — we get angry.”

Still, the Parks Department defended the project and its design in the Daily News,, noting that the building should use 45 percent less energy than a standard building. Local politicians also told the Daily News that they intend to keep the pressure on the Parks Department in order to bring the project to a successful conclusion, soon.

It’s anecdotal, of course, but the story is another reminder of how green building policy – though well-intentioned – can outpace the industry’s capabilities. And it demonstrates, as a 2009 Marsh survey of A/E/C executives cautioned, that financial risks from green building – whether stemming from higher design and construction costs or third-party certification fees – are real and must be addressed by owners when establishing project budgets.

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One Response to While Senior Citizens Are Waiting, Brooklyn Green Building Triples in Cost

  1. Nicole T September 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    Interesting, though it seems as though the architect chose some of the most difficult LEED-qualified features to use. Out of hundreds of options, green roofs and geothermal are some of the most costly ways to get LEED points.

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