We talk a lot here about how critical it is – both from a legal perspective and to ensure the ultimate delivery of a high-performance building – for a green building project team to coordinate its efforts as early as possible in the construction process, both in terms of defining green goals for the project, as well as minimizing the risk that design or other programming requirements are not accurately translated into the contract documents. Teddy Schiff, president of New York City-based Oyster Capital Group, clearly grasps these unique characteristics of sustainable design and spent nearly six months making sure his project team at 243 East 82nd Street understood exactly what would be required of it in order to execute architect Daniel Frisch’s design for what should become Gotham’s first single-family townhouse certified under USGBC’s LEED for Homes (“LEED-H”) rating system. Mr. Schiff was kind enough to share some details about his project with us, which was also recently featured in the November/December issue of Urban Land magazine (a .pdf copy of that article is available via the links at the end of this post).
Schiff notes that “[g]iven the scope and parameters of this project, it has taken five to six months of careful planning and permitting to get to [the] point before the development [was] able to begin the demolition process. The number of moving parts and complexity in [this type of project] is much broader due to the groundbreaking LEED aspect.” From a legal perspective, as we noted above, these are the types of considerations that illustrate the unique nature of green construction and necessity for thoughtful planning and careful contract drafting. For example, during the demolition phase, Schiff’s general contractor will be required to document each item of construction debris which it recycles; in order to achieve the three credits that the team is targeting in the waste management category, the contractor must produce no more than 0.5 pounds of construction waste per square foot after demolition operations are completed, and 88 percent of the project’s construction debris must be recycled.
After initially considering a number of design alternatives with Frisch and its LEED-H provider, Steven Winter Associates, Schiff decided to more or less raze the existing 3200-square-foot, mixed-use structure (other than the party walls, which are the foundation walls that the building shares with adjacent properties). Demolition will allow the townhouse floor plates to be expanded and windows reconfigured to allow more natural light into each floor. Although the townhouse is only 15 feet wide, it will ultimately extend 72 feet deep (from an original 43 feet) from the front façade and will feature a ground floor, garden terrace, along with 1100 square feet of terraces across the rear of each of its five floors. A graywater system captures rainwater from the terraces in order to irrigate the property’s landscaping. The footprint of the project site itself is 102 feet deep.
The project team is aiming for a Gold certification (81.5 credits out of a possible 136; 75 are required for Gold, 90 for Platinum) under LEED-H, and Schiff tells Urban Land about the difficulties of attempting to certify an urban townhouse within the confines of a system that is geared primarily for suburban houses. For example, the design team was unable to specify any bamboo plants for the site’s landscaping because of how easily bamboo can spread to adjacent properties (note in the images how the townhouse sits flush against its neighbors). However, the team does expect to earn all ten credits under Location and Linkages due to the townhouse’s location in a dense urban neighborhood (between Second and Third Avenues) adjacent to New York City mass transit and Central Park. (As a brief aside, note that the Rauch Residence in the Riverdale section of the Bronx earned a LEED-H Silver rating over the summer from USGBC, but Schiff’s effort would be the first townhouse in New York City to be certified under LEED-H).
In addition to the other standard LEED design features (low-VOC paints and sealants, locally-sourced construction materials, etc.), all of the floors throughout the townhouse will be exposed, Carlisle Wood reclaimed oak and treated with non-toxic stain. Countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms will be manufactured with recycled glass and concrete from IceStone, while all appliances will be Energy Star-rated. The townhouse’s windows will be double-hung and offer U factors of less than 0.35, while all roof shingles, tiles, and other flooring and countertops will contain at least 25 percent post-consumer recycled-content. The project team has also specified compact fluorescents for each of the townhouse’s “high use” rooms, and carbon monoxide detectors will be installed on each floor. When completed, the townhouse will offer 10 rooms, 4 bedrooms, and a penthouse solarium. Radiant floors will complement a central air conditioning system, and Schiff anticipates that the townhouse’s green design features will help it be 25 to 30 percent more energy efficient than a comparable home.
Schiff’s firm purchased the East 82nd Street property at an estate sale for $3.2 million; the construction budget for the project is approximately $2 million. The project team also includes mechanical engineers Jack Green Associates, structural engineers Etna Consulting, landscape architects Verdant Group. The townhouse should go on the market sometime in July at an asking price in the vicinity of $8 million. Our best regards to Oyster Capital and Mr. Schiff as they undertake this important New York City LEED first on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Renderings and other materials are set forth below for your review.
- Greening Urban Townhouses (ULI)
- Rauch Residence (gbNYC)
- Oyster Capital Group
- Daniel Frisch Architecture