Weekend Reading: Bronx School Gets Green Roof, New LEED-CI Platinum in Manhattan, The Joys of Living Buildings

Yes, it’s been quiet around here this week. But that doesn’t mean nothing was happening in the world of green building. It just means your bloggers ran into some technical difficulties.

You’re right, it totally has been quiet around here for the last week or so. Maybe 5% of that was intentional — early in the week, before I was swamped by sudden-death deadlines and the fatigue that comes with them, I wanted to give a little more front-page space to the conversation that Stephen and I had about Henry Gifford’s mega-lawsuit against USGBC and everyone even tangentially involved in it. Then, next thing you know, I’m writing a few thousand words on something I’d forgotten I was supposed to write about — I got paid for them for once, which was nice — and it’s Friday evening and… well, yeah. I hand-picked the image above for a reason, although that cameraman is having far more fun than I did this week. Stephen, for his part, has been training for the New York City Marathon, and is presumably sitting in a giant tub of ice sipping on some sort of runner’s protein shake right now. Have fun, Steve!

So, because I didn’t want to let the week go by without something, it’s the desperate and maybe a little hurried long-awaited return of Weekend/Friday Reading. Interesting stuff in the world of green real estate, green building and et cetera doesn’t stop just because I’m trying to find some old college quarterback on the phone and Stephen is running 18 miles on his shortish legs. Here’s the proof:

  • The South Bronx, gbNYC’s favorite green neighborhood crush — I haven’t crunched the numbers, but it seems like every third post carries The Bronx tag — picked up another very cool green first recently when Sustainable South Bronx installed the first city-approved green roof on a New York City public school at the Alfred E. Smith Career and Technical Academy. Unlike other green roofs in the city, though, this one isn’t a defiant statement on behalf of beauty in a world that doesn’t sufficiently value it (or whatever I was talking about in that post). In this case, the green roof is a part of Alfred E. Smith’s increasingly green curriculum. “In the blustery wind, for nine hours on Oct. 16, The Green Roof team from Sustainable South Bronx, the local environmental nonprofit that is managing the project, laid 1,400 square feet of sedum, a type of cactus known for absorbing water and reflecting sunlight,” Bronx Ink’s Nick Pandolfo writes. “The project is not just meant to add a touch of color to the otherwise pebbled roof; it will be the focus of a rich curriculum aimed at helping students apply their skills and knowledge to a sustainable project. The Smith students’ work can be traced back three years ago with their school’s building trades program. The carpentry classes began building wooden planters for students to grow fruits and vegetables from their native countries.  That project will begin to bear fruit as part of a fresh food initiative in the spring.  Architecture students laid out potential designs of the space, and science students studied the eco-system it would create.”
  • A new LEED platinum plaque went out this week when the offices of the philanthropic investors Rockefeller Brothers Fund received LEED-CI honors, making it just the eighth recipient of that honor in New York City. FXFowle oversaw the green revamp of the 29,000-square-foot space on the Upper West Side, and delivers the specifics on the overhaul at their website, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund commissioned a short video on the project. It’s kind of goofy, but it’s always nice when an entity with a name like Rockefeller Brothers Fund does something that isn’t totally destructive. (Kidding! Rockefeller Brothers Fund is actually very green and totally civic minded)
  • Finally, gbNYC favorite Alec Appelbaum has a terrific piece in The Faster Times on living buildings, ultra-green construction, and misordered priorities — it reads something like a much better-researched and organized version of my critique of the passivhaus movement from a few weeks back. Appelbaum visits The Omega Project, in Woodstock, NY, and addresses both the ultra-green “living building” standard to which the Omega Project is built, and which are either the next-next thing in net-zero green building or not. Whatever the case, living buildings are built to meet The Living Building Challenge, an astonishingly high standard of sustainability. It’s impressive, but to Appelbaum’s credit, he doesn’t stop at awe. “The Center for Sustainable Living, as Omega calls its new zero-waste wastewater treatment building, is an arpeggio of plants in a gleaming chord of a clear-walled structure,” Appelbaum writes. “It seems to sing from its hillside. But it [left] me first hushed, and then wondering.” As always with Appelbaum’s stuff, it’s well worth the click-through.

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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.

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