It’s Easy Being “Green”
By Sung Bin Park
On a recent visit to Solar 1, a sustainable education center and green building in Manhattan, I thought to myself that there were not enough green buildings like this in Brooklyn. To my surprise, there were many springing up all over Brooklyn, including two new residential buildings right here in Williamsburg, most notably the E7. Many of our city’s buildings were designed to consume and waste large amounts of energy, built with toxic materials, and were harmful to the health of its residents and the environment. Green buildings have rapidly emerged as a solution to the caustic and inefficient properties of buildings past.
The concept of green buildings and the use of green materials is not exactly a foreign one, as it seems to be present everywhere today, but what exactly is a “green” building? The term of a green building is simple: a sustainable building or structure that is designed, built, or renovated in a responsible, efficient and environmentally sound manner. Greenhomenyc, an organization for sustainable urban buildings, further defines this with “Green building starts off with the premise that the inhabitants’ well being, health, and comfort come first, and incorporates this idea into the design process. It then looks for ways to reduce the burden on the environment in terms of resource and land use and air and water quality”. The E7 building in Williamsburg will be among the leaders in the line of residential sustainable buildings intending to do just that.
This five-story building with seven housing units is currently under construction and scheduled for completion in July of 2007. A member of the building’s design team, Gita Nandan, writes “ Sustainable issues are being integrated in the design from its conception and are playing a primary force in the final product.” By using the model and process known as a LEED (USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental) certification, guidelines are set for various ratings and degrees of maintaining the “green” integrity of the building.
The Thread Collective, the architectural firm heading the design of the complex, has been known for its work and experience with sustainable design projects. Their final goal is a silver rating using a point system. According to Nandan, “such a certification guarantees to the buyer, and the public the quality because LEED sets a series of standards in various categories such as energy, materials, water usage. Buildings must go through a rigorous process of documenting during the design and construction process that they meet these standards. Points are amassed giving certification to different levels”. For more about how LEED works, you can go to the council’s website, www.usgbc.org.
The E7 will include a rooftop garden that will support native planting and a grey water retention system that will supply non-potable water for irrigation. Some of the aims of the project will include low energy consumption, a geothermal heating and cooling system, use of recycled materials or locally manufactured materials, energy efficient appliances, water efficient fixtures, non-toxic kitchen cabinetry, bicycle racks, and compact fluorescent light fixtures.
Nandan expands on the motivations of the building’s developer, “It is a developer project who in the end will sell the individual units, he will not actually reap the benefits except in potentially higher sales prices, which is a little bit of a gamble in the real estate market, but something he is gambling on. The energy cost savings will not be the developer’s but will be passed on to the new owners. In addition, there are green building tax incentives provided through NYSERDA (New York State Energy and Research Development Authority), which can add up to encourage developers to build in such ways. This project is participating in the New Construction Program.”
Though the upfront costs may be significantly higher than traditional building, for the E7 it is predicted to run 12% more, according to Nandan, “the payback costs, passed on to the future inhabitants need to be taken into consideration. Our geothermal system will pay back for itself in approximately 15 years. And the solar system in approx. 12 years.” And that “the energy savings are predicted to be approximately 40% and water consumption approx. 20%.” Simply put by Nandan, “This project is attempting to show that green building is not only possible, it is affordable to all parties involved at this smaller more intimate scale that is a typical building type here in Brooklyn”.
Owners and developers aren’t the only ones that benefit from green homes. Added to all those environmental and health benefits are also the overall money saving incentives for residents. Running a more efficient and healthier home is something any apartment dweller can do with a little will and not a lot of cost, energy consumption being one of the biggest cost saving areas you can work on. There are many online resources available such as www.greenhomenyc.org for tenants and owners.
According to Chris Neidl, education and outreach coordinator for Solar 1, “the most important reasons for saving energy have to do with saving money - which in NYC can amount to a pretty penny given the expenses we face as rate payers (the highest in the country, in fact, for electricity).” With just a few simple changes to our daily habits in the home, the benefits can be translated right into your monthly bill. And “saving energy during the right time of the day and year can reduce the risk of network power failures while at the same time clearing the air” which “adds up if implemented on a wide scale”. Neidl also adds, “there are many, many other things that people can do - like purchasing wind power and buying local.”
Some businesses in Brooklyn have even gone as far as switching over 100% to wind-generated electricity. In the case of the Brooklyn Brewery located on 79 North 11th Street, their headquarters are powered exclusively by wind energy. Habana Outpost, Fort Greene’s newest eco-eatery on 757 Fulton Street, also has solar and wind facilities in addition to recycling and greener restaurant practices.
While a glimpse into the future might reveal better and efficient buildings, today as urban dwellers, simple changes can make a huge difference. Neidl offers these tips for making your own home greener:
- Buy energy efficient, Energy Star rated appliances.
- Place your air conditioner in a shaded area, this causes it to function more efficiently and use less energy and also cleaning out your air conditioners filter every season.
- Close your blinds or curtains in your apartment during the day when you are at work. This keeps the temperature down and apartment cooler.
- Turn off appliances and lights when you are not using them. Energy is wasted by appliances that are in off mode, or not being used. By using power strips to plug in all of your electrical appliances that are found near each other and turning off this power strip when you are not home or not using them this “vampire or phantom load” can be reduced from your electricity bill.
- Weather strip windows to keep heat from leaking out of your apartment. Your landlord might even pay for the costs or do it themselves if they are paying the heating bills.
- Switch all or most of your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. CFL’s last about 10 times as long. In NYC, just one CFL bulb switch can save a renter $100 over its seven year life span.
Also, just being a smart consumer by using non-toxic or natural cleaners in the home can help make your home greener. You can find most products in your local health food store like Ecover, Seventh Generation and Sun and Earth, just to name a few. They do not use harmful chemicals that will affect your health or the water systems. Buying used or vintage furniture when applicable will help reduce the amount of resources it takes to make something new. Promoting a greener lifestyle in the home can be easy by recycling in your home and recycling your used or old electronics at the next e-waste event. Check the calendar for these on www.lesecologycenter.org.
By reducing overall operating and energy costs, improving productivity and promoting overall wellness, a greener building’s performance is its own reward. So why wouldn’t everyone choose to go green? The resources are becoming abundantly more available and the benefits of a non-toxic and efficient living environment becoming even more apparent. More developers are beginning to catch on to this as Nandan explains, “there is a wave of momentum that we believe is here to grow and establish itself as a positive mark on Brooklyn and New York”.
New Name for a Brooklyn Creative
Bushwick’s 3rd Ward
By Jessica Williams
The desolate lots of East Williamsburg and Bushwick were once a hotbed of poverty and crime in the 1980s. Today, the area still looks like a neighborhood at the end of a path less traveled. While residents must flee to neighboring Williamsburg or Manhattan to enjoy substantial nightlife, there exists a diamond in the rough. Serving the creative inhabitants of Bushwick’s brownstones and converted warehouse-lofts, 3rd Ward offers both established and emerging artists work and performance space, focusing on the support of artists whom often choose to cross media boundaries.
Co-founders Jeremy Lovitt and Jason Goodman opened 3rd Ward in May. Less than six months later, thousands of PBR-drinkers and hundreds of artists from the community have enmeshed within the 10,000 square foot space that Jeremy and Jason constructed by hand. Continuing the Do It Yourself attitude that artists of Williamsburg and Bushwick possess, member- supported 3rd Ward came from the demands of the community. “They need work space. It doesn’t exist anywhere. This neighborhood is just starting to develop and it’s an exciting time to be here,” comments marketing director, Laura Gencarella.
Laura reveals that the team plans to spearhead a residency and education program in the new year. In the meantime, anyone can become a member and enjoy unlimited free and discounted access to a surprising multitude of amenities such as wood and metal fabrication shops; photo studio complete with lighting, stands and set equipment; audio/music recording and rehearsal studio equipped with ProTools HD2; a soundproof post-production suite; digital media lab; writing desk space; a conference room; a 900 square foot dance studio with wood-sprung floors; and last but not least, a 1200 square foot gallery.
Member-artists may also teach and lead workshops as well as receive in-house production services. Serving such diverse interdisciplinary work in one space, 3rd Ward holds true to its mission. “We are always seeking out the gray area between mediums. Collaborations and cross-media work receive the main spotlight, while innovation and humor hold their own.”
In the past, 3rd Ward has supported a number of shows, including artists such as Japanther and TV on the Radio. The former used the studios to record music and the latter recently shot their latest video on site. Partnering with Bushwick Art Project over the summer, they presented the Bat Lab, which featured over fifty artists and curators’ installations all over the space.
Presently, 3rd Ward sponsors the Reel to Reel 3rd Ward Film Screening on the last Monday of every month. “From the avant garde split 16mm projector stylings of Michaud and Marquis, to the stylized entries of Fleming and Kelly of Radius 5 Productions, these films and film makers reflect the diversity of our city.” Also,
Every Tuesday, one can Drink ‘n Draw! Figure Drawing with a Twist, from 7 - 10p.m., including unlimited PBR's and 3 hours of live model Drawing. On, Saturday Oct. 28th, 3rd Ward teams up with Complacent Nation to present Halloween Edition, a new media event. Also, on Saturday, November 4th, be sure to check out a similar event, entitled, Burning Man Decompression.
3rd Ward is located at 195 Morgan Avenue in the East Williamsburg Industrial Park. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and Sundays from noon to midnight. For more information, e-mail email@example.com, visit www.3rdwardbrooklyn.org or call 718.715.4961.
For more information about or to submit your work for future film screenings please contact Jocelyn Marquis at 718.715.4961 or firstname.lastname@example.org