Friday Reading: Bronx’s LEED Neighborhood Booming, TED Types Put Green Building In Context, NYC’s Friendliest Toilet

What does a resurgent South Bronx ‘hood, big-think essays on the future of green building and composting toilets have in common? They’re all part of Friday Reading, but not much else.

This is a good thing, of course, but not everything can be a crudely demagogued non-mosque on not-so-hallowed ground or major league green retrofits at super-iconic Manhattan skyscrapers. Some stories are just interesting stories, and not necessarily the sort of things that demand exhaustive coverage. Also it’s early evening on Friday, and you’re probably about as anxious to read 1200 ultra-emotional words on some green building topic or other as I am to write those words. But, in the return of our sporadic and (presumably?) wildly popular Friday Reading series, we’re highlighting a few cool green stories from the week that was that we’ll be watching over the weekend, and probably for a good deal longer than that. Go crazy, folks, go crazy: Friday Reading is back:

  • We’ve written previously about Melrose Commons, New York City’s only LEED for Neighborhoods recipient and just about as awesome a turnaround story as NYC has to offer. The community-powered turnaround of what was once essentially a smoking crater near some subway stations is a pretty great topic for a dewy blog post, as we noted back in March (also amusing: I was harping on New Domino back then, too), but what makes Melrose Commons so inspiring and impressive is the fact that it just keeps on surging along. It’s the best type of success story, in that way: one that resolutely resists an ending. In the Daily News, Daniel Beekman reports on Boricua Village — the mixed-use affordable- and market-rate housing area surrounding Boricua College, pictured above — and the unexpectedly strong demand for market-rate housing at the area’s new market-rate housing developments. “When they pass the 41/2-acre housing development and 14-story college campus at E. 161st St. and Third Ave., the people who live and work nearby see a new South Bronx neighborhood,” Beekman writes. “Once abandoned by the city to slumlords and drug dealers, north Melrose has been reborn.” Which, as we mentioned above, is not exactly news to gbNYC readers. But it doesn’t make the story any less fun to read. Also fun: in the “related stories” box next to the article, all the pieces ostensibly related to Melrose Commons are actually about the spectacularly doofy reboot of Melrose Place. Proof once again why The New York Daily News is generally known as NYC Second Most Ridiculous Tabloid, By Default.
  • While we’re on the topic of valuable things that have been essentially beaten to near-death here at gbNYC, let’s tip our cap to this very intelligent and very welcome editorial at CNN by architects Joshua Prince-Ramus, Randolph Croxton and Tuomas Toivonen. It’s a transcription of a video hosted at TED, the creepy/trendy 18-minutes-of-profound-video-stuff nonprofit of choice for stuff like this, but it is very wise and frankly very surprising to find at CNN, which should really be trying to find a way to interview Will.I.Am about something via hologram, right? Anyway, while the point of their piece — that full-spectrum green development is far more important and effective than individual green buildings — is one we’ve worked over pretty hard here at gbNYC, they’ve got a great venue, a lot of credibility, and some very clearly made points. To wit: “A truly sustainable strategy cannot externalize any factors. An off-the-grid energy-efficient building in the suburbs actually has a high carbon footprint when considering the auto-dependent lifestyle it encourages,” they write. “Shortening the daily commute of a typical person by six miles saves as much carbon as a 50 percent reduction in energy use for home heating. ‘Green’ buildings alone are not enough to divert our perilous course. A broader vision of sustainability is imperative to meet America’s challenge.” To which we can only add: 1) right on and 2) read the whole thing.
  • Finally, some light toilet-related reading. In the New York Times, Thomas Lin has the scoop — gross/sorry — on the design for new, composting toilets in Riverside Park that the city hired Cook + Fox (!) to draft. “The plan for the bathroom, which would compost sewage to fertilize park greenery and use solar panels to power the complex, also calls for additional sustainable design elements, like recycled building materials, roofs planted with native species, and blast furnace slag to circumvent the carbon-heavy manufacturing process of cement,” Lin writes. Green roofs on green toilets? We are living in a dream of the future, people.

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

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 for more information about our services and to discuss how we can assist you.

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2 Responses to Friday Reading: Bronx’s LEED Neighborhood Booming, TED Types Put Green Building In Context, NYC’s Friendliest Toilet

  1. MAP Architects Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 11:27 am #

    As a result of our sustainable designs for Melrose Commons, Magnusson Architecture and Planning, PC is proud to announce the formation of MAP Green, a division specializing in green consulting services for building design, green retrofit/rehabilitation, and sustainable neighborhood planning.

    For more information, visit us at

    • Stephen Del Percio Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 11:41 am #

      Great stuff- thanks for letting us know about the new venture, good luck!

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