One Green Brownstone: Harlem Green Retrofit Gets Props From… Good Housekeeping?

You know how it is with Good Housekeeping Magazine. You let your subscription lapse for a little bit, and you wind up missing out. Missing out on what, I’m not quite sure — Faith Hill’s unpredictable heart-healthy recipes or an interview with Star Jones about pilates or something, maybe? But in defiance of this (totally unearned, totally knee-jerk) dismissal of Good Housekeeping, it turns out the magazine actually has a bit of a green thing going on, and recently assisted, along with the Steven Winter Group, in greening a LEED for Homes-hopeful circa-1910 brownstone in Harlem until it becomes the “greenest home in Manhattan” label. Apparently this is the third year Good Housekeeping has been doing this, too. Why, except for the fact that I am just obviously not someone who would listen to a story with the words “Good Housekeeping” in it, was I not told about this?

Harlem Green HouseYou know how it is with Good Housekeeping Magazine. You let your subscription lapse for a little bit, and you wind up missing out. Missing out on what, I’m not quite sure — Faith Hill’s unpredictable heart-healthy recipes or an interview with Star Jones about pilates or something, maybe? But in defiance of this (totally unearned, totally knee-jerk) dismissal of Good Housekeeping, it turns out the magazine actually has a bit of a green thing going on, and recently assisted, along with the Steven Winter Group, in greening a LEED for Homes-hopeful circa-1910 brownstone in Harlem until it becomes the “greenest home in Manhattan” label. Apparently this is the third year Good Housekeeping has been doing this, too. Why, except for the fact that I am just obviously not someone who would listen to a story with the words “Good Housekeeping” in it, was I not told about this?

Jennifer Allen’s Good Housekeeping article explaining the process is strikingly brief, but a series of videos on Good Housekeeping’s site detail the various laudable green attributes of the Harlem Green House (for which no address is given, sadly). These include denim insulation, a suite of Energy Star-rated appliances (including your blogger’s personal dorky item-crush, an induction cooktop), low-VOC finishes, high-efficiency windows, and assorted and sundry other green selling points (rooftop solar panels, what up!). It looks like a pretty neat building, all told, and praise is due to Good Housekeeping — which frankly doesn’t need to care — for bothering to do this sort of thing.

Of course, LEED for Homes is kind of a different story. One of David Owen’s biggest gripes with LEED in his book “Green Metropolis” is the way that it prioritizes things-you-can-buy point-getters — the almost-always symbolic rooftop solar panels, for instance — over much more effective macro-scale efficiencies like, say, being a smallish property in a dense urban neighborhood near mass transit. As tiresome as Owen’s relentless deflating-the-conventional-wisdom thing can get in the book, his lampooning of materialistic “LEED Brain” sustainability efforts (like rooftop solar) rings pretty true, and the idea of LEED for Homes dropping green laurels on very-efficient homes that are 45 minute automobile trips from basic services kind of seems to overlook the fact that a house that a large suburban house that requires frequent car-usage is inherently less efficient than a small apartment near the subway. That’s a post for another day of course, but kudos to Good Housekeeping for getting it right, and for picking a house whose inherently efficient location right here in New York City adds to its other impressively green attributes.

About David Roth

Since September of 2009, David Roth has served as the Managing Editor of gbNYC. David lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with his wife, and is also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New Republic and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications. You can contact David at droth11@gmail.com.

about gbNYC

gbNYC is a multi-disciplinary consulting and real estate services firm. In addition to representing office tenants and commercial buyers in leasing and acquisitions, we also provide innovative consulting solutions from a unique, green building perspective. We advise on green building financial incentives, comment on proposed green building marketing strategies, author white papers, treatises, and market analyses, organize seminars on the LEED process and professional accreditation, and provide advice and analysis on green building risk management and the overall state of green real estate, leasing, and construction, in New York City and beyond.

Our blog, the gbNYC+ journal of real estate, law, + sustainability, delivers consistent, original content - from a New York City perspective - on how technology, data, and sustainability are changing how we interact with our built environment. Subscribe below and receive new articles as they're published or connect with our social media presence to join our ongoing conversation about real estate and sustainability, in the Big Apple and beyond. Contact us at (201) 835-8530 or info@gbNYC.com for more information about our services and to discuss how we can assist you.

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