Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar plant is one NYC macro-development that has never even made a nod to green building practices. It still isn’t, and it’s going forward anyway.
With all due respect to Brooklyn Bridge Park, it’s a lot easier to develop a green space with astonishing Manhattan views into a park people want to visit than it is to turn a sagging, soggy pier into something other than an eyesore. And yet that’s the task that’s being met, with varying degrees of success, in both Brooklyn and Manhattan right now.
The Gowanus Canal just sort of sprawls, slack and flat and brown and grease-slicked and awash in pesticides, PCBs and metals, across 1.8 miles in South Brooklyn. It is one of the most polluted waterways in the United States, which is a fact that essentially no one disputes. So in one sense, it’s not a surprise to read that the Gowanus Canal was tagged a Superfund site by the EPA on Tuesday. If there has ever been a more deserving Superfund site it… well, it would’ve had to have been pretty freaking nightmarish. But while the Gowanus is certainly apocalyptic enough in its noxiousness to deserve the Superfund label, there were some in New York City — including Mayor Bloomberg and several big real estate developers — who fought against that designation. Some of this is easily explained — the Toll Brothers at one point planned a 600,000-square-foot mixed-use development (with a freaking esplanade) along the Gowanus; Michael Bloomberg has almost certainly never been to Brooklyn — but what’s the debate, here?
While it’s tempting to write, “if you’ve seen one luxury condominium, you’ve seen them all,” it’s probably more accurate of me to write, “if you’ve seen one Flash-driven website for a luxury condominium, you’ve seen them all.” At some point, though, all these listings kind of collapse into one — one endless state-of-the-art fitness center, one sprawling rooftop sundeck, and so dully on. But while Brooklyn’s Toren has many of the same amenities and attributes as the endless parade of luxury condos in Manhattan that fills my days, a few notable things set Toren apart. For one thing, Toren is pursuing LEED Gold certification. For another, it’s architecturally striking in the extreme, thanks to a gutsy Skidmore Owings & Merrill design. And for a third, Toren is flourishing where many cookie-cutter condos in Brooklyn and Manhattan are not. Call it real estate meritocracy, if you want. I’m just happy not to have to have to write anything about its gourmet kitchens or windowed baths or whatever.
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 at100 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.
Your author’s career-long journey of itinerant, grousy keyboard-for-hire disillusionment has given me… well, something. I am an excelloent typist, and the Wall Street Journal belatedly gave me an unflattering stipple portrait of my own. Oh, and also: I have compiled, in my mind, something of a treasury of “isn’t work just the worst” quotations from various writers. There are certainly more resonant ones than Don DeLillo’s characteristically terse (if uncharacteristically straightforward) assertion in Underworld that, “capitalism strips the nuances from places.” But look around you, at the office in which you are likely reading this post. The dim cubicles and hissing flourescents and dense industrial carpeting. Dude’s got a point, right? That plain aesthetic fact makes Sunday’s New York Times article about green office spaces that much more interesting a read. For pure voyeurism, it’s hard not to admire the super-green work spaces at TriBeCa’s Green Spaces and Dumbo’s Green Desk. Considering that the office from which I do my posting doesn’t even recycle, it’s virtually impossible for me.
While neither Aspen Equities’ Sterling Green nor the Meshberg Group’s Mason Fisk is pursuing third-party certification as a green building, both are excellent examples of how to develop green real estate in what could emerge as a very big market for green buildings. (I’m talking about Brooklyn, but the broader green real estate market will obviously expand, too).
What we don’t know about Redhook Green — and something we’ll certainly be discussing a lot in 2010 — is what exactly its “net zero” ambitions will actually mean in practice.
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).
This article takes a fresh look at the traditional concepts of real estate marketing as they relate to property locations through the prism of green building and sustainability.