Sustainable Home(less) on the Upper West Side

An Upper West Side homeless outreach organization has renovated its working space with green features thanks to a grant from Architecture for Humanity.

Green materials and energy-efficient appliances are par for the course when the client is paying over $1,000 per square foot. Fortunately, thanks to socially-concerned and eco-conscious designers and suppliers, sustainably-built habitats need not be exclusive.

The basement of the Broadway Presbyterian Church in Morningside Heights serves as a homeless outreach hub shared by several organizations. One of them, Care of the Homeless (“CFH”), a non-profit providing free medical services to the homeless, received a small federal grant to renovate its 500-square-foot medical facility in the basement, where “medical staff was performing medical exams in a rather crowded closet.”

The New York affiliate of Architecture for Humanity (AFHny), the non-profit network of designers behind dozens of rebuilding efforts from Sri Lanka to New Orleans, came on board, as did several eco-conscious suppliers that chipped in free or discounted materials. The design concept was “home_less”: from home- a “dwelling in which one habitually lives,” a household; and less- of “not so great size,” not so much, opposed to more.

While the project was “much too small” to be considered by AFHny for LEED, it was not for lack of potential LEED points: the renovations included no-VOC AFM Safecoat Paint throughout the whole space and Bonded Logic Denim Insulation in the walls, provided by Bettencourt Green Building Supply; Ecoresin Doors from 3-Form; and Marmoleum tiles from Forbo on the floor. Counseling unit partitions were built from reclaimed wood doors and cork.

Incidentally, the contractor that oversaw the project was G.O. Construction, which provides “top quality contracting and construction services for high-end luxury residential and commercial renovations in New York City.” That, and green medical spaces for the homeless. Kudos.

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