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green city: green buildings, design and creating a sustainable environment

November 2, 2013

New York's streets? Not so mean any more

This TED talk highlights some of the many changes in traffic flow and transportation we've seen about town in recent years. Making New York City a better place to live.

As commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, Janette Sadik-Khan is responsible for the smooth running of a New York that hides in plain sight... the streets, highways, bridges, signs and lights that make up the bustling metropolis.

Janette Sadik-Khan was appointed commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation in 2007. For six years, she managed nearly 5,000 employees and was responsible for the operation and management of some 6,300 miles of streets throughout the city's 5 boroughs. Despite her access to a budget of some $2 billion, Sadik-Khan adopted a designer's approach to urban innovation: rapid testing and regular iteration. In other words, try an idea to see if it would work; if it didn't, try something else, no harm done. In Times Square, an iconic New York City location visited by 350,000 people every day, this involved the creation of pedestrian zones by painting the asphalt and putting up some lawn chairs. The success of the approach allowed her to create 50 pedestrian zones throughout the city, in the process repurposing 26 acres of space previously allocated to cars. In 2013, she helped to introduce the instantly-popular Citi Bike bicycle-sharing program to the city, making New York one of the cycling capitals in the United States.

April 27, 2012

Design-intelligent urban development

new developmentThis is a fascinating keynote by architect and urban planner Vishaan Chakrabarti, Director of Columbia University's Center for Urban Real Estate or CURE. There are some big ideas presented here about the future of New York City's development built around sustainability, economic return to the city, and unlocking the potential of underutilized land, by creating well-designed urban density and mass transit to service it.

One statistic that jumps out is that there are about 4 billion square feet of unused FAR (development rights) in our city today. This is actually land unused because of regulation which, if intelligently developed, could provide valuable economic growth and infrastructure for future generations of New Yorkers. The proposed creation of LoLo, a new lower Manhattan land mass connecting Governor's island with the Financial district is presented too, giving us a glimpse of what thinking out of the box really looks like, when not being used as a marketing punchline.

From the CURE web site: CURE identifies, shares, and advocates solutions for a rapidly urbanizing world. CURE redefines sustainability as dense, mixed-income, mixed-use, transit-based urban development. From climate change and energy dependence to the socioeconomic and political upheaval they engender, CURE addresses emerging and current global issues through the lens of urbanization.

visit the CURE site »

June 11, 2008

Manhattan Green Buildings List

green designIn the vernacular of New York City, real estate agents often describe apartments as "pre-war" or "post-war", indicating that they were built before or after World War II. It is a distinction that refers to the changes in popular need, design, and the construction techniques of those apartments. The former being larger, more ornate homes inside and out, while the latter are more plain vanilla housing, like the white brick buildings of the Upper East Side. They respectively reflect the opulence of 1920s America, and the need for affordable, mass-produced housing, for the booming population of GIs returning from the war. They are the results of social forces and technologies, working to iterate the basic need of shelter, in ways which were designed authentically to their times.

Today we see a similar shift evolving, in a way which may cause brokers to eventually describe the city's buildings as "pre-green" or "post-green". Rising awareness of factors such as global warming, rising fuel costs, and conservation, are reshaping the marketplace. The environmental concerns may range on a personal level, from the gases released from building materials, to deforestation on a more global level. Architects, builders, consumers, and governments are rethinking what they need, want, and how to have it; in ways which will greatly impact dwellings, urban planning and national agendas. Green developments are redefining design quality as responsible to the health of its inhabitants, and to that of the larger community too.

In New York City we are seeing development of the first wave of LEED certified apartment houses. My colleague Tony Oakley compiled a list recently of Manhattan green buildings, with the help of Corcoran's Susan Singer and our other agents, which they have kindly let me publish here. I've added a couple more, including the first LEED-H development in the Bronx; because of its significance as the first affordable housing to receive this designation. Some additional resources are noted as well. I've sold and shown in many of these. They are both green, and aesthetically, some of the best buildings in NYC. Anything residential in Manhattan that we've missed? Feel free to leave a comment and I'll update the list as we go; and please take a moment to answer today's poll.

Manhattan residential LEED certified
  • 1400 Fifth Avenue
  • Riverhouse— 1 Rockefeller Park
  • Solaire (rental)— 20 River Terrace
  • The Laurel— 400 E 67th Street
  • The Lucida— 151 E 85th Street
  • The Helena— 601 W 57th Street
  • The Visionaire— 70 Little West Street
  • One Jackson Square— 122 Greenwich Street
  • The Kalahari— 40 West 116th Street
  • Verdisian (rental)— 211 North End Avenue
Manhattan LEED registered
  • Epic (rental)— 124 West 31st Street (anticipating Silver LEED certification)
  • Harsen House— 120 W 72nd Street
  • HL23— 515 W 23rd Street (anticipating Gold LEED certification)
  • Superior Ink— 400 West 12th Street (anticipating Silver LEED certification)
  • The Harrison— 205 West 76th Street (anticipating Silver LEED certification)
Green elements
  • 28 Bedford Street—14kW photovoltaic system
  • 228 East Third Street— 4 buildings: passive solar, water conservation system, green finishes
  • 88 Laight Street— “SolaRail” photovoltic glass balcony railing that converts energy to electricity
  • 40 Mercer Street— features energy efficient mechanicals, filtered air and roof landscaping
  • 179 Rivington Street— photovoltaics, passive solar, net-metered, low VOC paints adhesives, low flow fixtures, dual flush toilets, radiant heating
  • 101 Warren Street— pine forest green roof
  • 140-142 West 4th Street— solar thermal system
  • Tribeca Green— 325 North End Avenue
  • 123 West 15th Street— natural gas power generation & geothermic climate control
Green web sites & resources

related posts on
Architect Norman Foster: Building on the green agenda
A green tale of urban renewal
The 'green city' topic index

Correction: 40 Mercer does not have LEED certification as previously reported, but "it was very close to being certified" according to Hines Interests, the developer. It does contain many green features. Epic, Superior Ink and The Kalahari were added to the list from reader's calls and comments.

April 30, 2008

Architect Norman Foster: Building on the green agenda

green designThis is a compelling video of Sir Norman Foster that was filmed in Munich in 2007 at DLD (Digital, Life, Design); a conference covering digital innovation, science and culture. He presents a macro view of urban design and public buildings that are sustainable and "celebratory". These are agenda setting ideas. He illustrates them using his own work; including the London Gherkin, and mega scale projects in China and the Middle East. In Manhattan, Lord Foster has completed the striking Hearst building on 57th Street and is working on one of the new towers on the World Trade Center site.

January 15, 2008

Why build green properties?

I get to sit in the editor's chair as we welcome Lexington Blood posting his debut entry here on Lex gives us some insight into why real estate development is going green. I had a customer ask to see only green buildings for the first time this week, a sign to me that consumer sentiment may be transforming right now. Better understanding of sustainable design will lead to greater demand, and change that's sustainable in the marketplace too. The benefits of green development are something that we'll be looking at on even more so in the future. There is a lot to gain for everyone. —Peter

will sustainable development mean more sustainable profitability too?
green buildinggreen city Fast forward to the year 2030. Now picture yourself with a building in downtown New York City. It a beautiful mixed-use building with an A-list restaurant on the main floor, office space above and stylish luxury apartments. When you bought this property back in 2008, it was still considered a trophy, but not anymore. You’re in the cross-hairs of New York City’s environmental agencies, because your building is not energy efficient or environmentally friendly. In fact its exactly the opposite, it has high quality imported finishes and materials that are high in ‘off gases’. It has incandescent light bulbs throughout the entire building, an energy wasting HVAC system, poor air quality because of out dated ventilation system, underrated insulation, and your building doesn’t have solar power or any other proactive carbon offsetting systems. The writing is on the wall. If you don’t begin with a sustainable approach when developing, buying or selling any property, be it residential, retail, industrial or commercial, you will be facing costly liabilities. Because of high-energy costs, buildings are becoming increasingly expensive to operate. With this in mind, developers, owners, and property managers can benefit from the slightly higher initial cost to go green because future cost increases will be limited and tenants will be happier because of it. We’ve heard that green development makes sense socially and environmentally, but does it make sense economically?

continued »

December 20, 2007

A plan for Governors Island begins to take shape

The Mayor and Governor announced the selection of Dutch firm West 8 to lead the effort in the redevelopment of Governors Island into what may become one of the largest and most exciting public spaces in the nation.

continued »

December 5, 2007

Video: Alex Steffen on Bright Green Cities

In his July 2005 TED talk, "Inspired ideas for a sustainable future", founder Alex Steffen offers a lightning round of answers to some of our planet's greatest sustainability challenges. Its a big picture perspective on topics which range from real estate development (green cities and buildings), to digital collaboration tools, to ingenious tools for the developing world.

continued »

July 15, 2007

Spending green, saving green

An "energy smart building" is an accolade that can be used in promoting properties to prospective buyers, and something which some developers are seeing as a way of adding a layer of distinction to their projects. Is a real consumer preference toward energy efficiency beginning to take shape? I thought that I'd put a poll out to ask readers how they felt about this emerging aspect of real estate purchases.

continued »

June 20, 2007

A green tale of urban renewal

So what's a site about luxury real estate doing presenting a talk from Majora Carter who is speaking about the empowerment of her neighborhood in the South Bronx? Sustainable development is part of the future for all of us, and few speak about it as passionately as she. Decide for yourself by watching this video from the 2005 TED conference, and hear part of the heartbeat of New York City.

continued »

May 27, 2007

Opinion poll: What are the best ways to green your home?

Can you help with an opinion poll about greening your home? With the first LEED certified residential condo developments being built and marketed right now, it is a moment in which the market is answering if this is an important issue for consumers with the very biggest purchases of their lives.

continued »

April 17, 2007

Spring greening

Here are two upcoming events that will help make Spring a bit greener for everyone. The upcoming Manhattan Electronics Recycling & Clothing Donation Event on April 22nd and Green Building Products: From Concept to Market, a free event for professionals about the principles of green product design, and strategies for designing and marketing green building products, on April 27th.

continued »