For all the great strides in green real estate on the part of private developers, much of what’s interesting in terms of green building in New York City comes from the public sector, and much of the best of that comes from New York City itself. As much and as duly as we’ve fussed over the Bloomberg Administration’s tendency to sign off on mega-developments of dubious non-awfulness and miss the boat on smaller-scale sustainable projects, Local Law 86 has committed city government to green building in a way that more or less cancels out our other ambivalences we might have about the mayor’s brand of plutocratic centrism. All of which has meant that city-sponsored projects have routinely ranked among the greenest and most interesting new construction projects in the city. Of all the things about which to feel some hometown pride, the fact that our rock-salt sheds are greener and more interesting looking than other cities’ greenest green buildings is a nice place to start. But the city may well have outdone itself with Staten Island’s planned P.S. 62, which is slated to be built to Net Zero standards.
Even by the high standards for green public development in New York City P.S. 62 looks like quite an achievement. The 70,000-square-foot building in Staten Island’s Rossville neighborhood was designed by Skidmore Owings and Merrill, and is cutting edge in a wide array of ways. But perhaps nothing about it is more radical than the fact that it’s getting built by the city itself. Strange though it may seem — especially in an era of furious and unrelenting political rhetoric decrying the ossified and uninnovative state — P.S. 62 isn’t really anything new for the School Construction Authority, though. It just happens to be the newest and most ambitious among many impressive projects.
“Over the past decade, no one has built more ‘green’ buildings than the city’s School Construction Authority,” the New York Observer’s Matt Chaban writes. “Even before Local Law 86 required all civic buildings to be built to sustainability standards, the department had been using such measures—light sensors, efficient heating and cooling systems, recycled materials, etc.—to build healthier instiutions that also save money on energy costs…[And] like many similar sustainable schools, the building itself will serve as a lab to teach students about energy efficiency and sustainability.”
While Staten Island residents are (perhaps predictably) grumping about the development of the school, it seems just about certain that P.S. 62 will rise, and rank among the most noteworthy green buildings in New York City. As Curbed notes, that P.S. 62 is being built by the city means that it won’t have to jump through the hoops that the late, lamented Red Hook Green had to clear. But while it would be nice to see the city make it easier for deserving green building projects such as Red Hook Green to get the go-ahead, the city’s commitment to building net zero projects on its own is hard to complain about.