We all got a break this past “winter” in terms of heating usage–but with oil prices rising and air conditioning season right around the corner, it’s not as though the trend toward green rental properties is going away any time soon.
In fact, all signs indicate that developers, engineers, and architects of NYC rental apartments will continue to explore ways in which to both construct as well as retrofit their properties in an environmentally conscious way so that, in the years and decades ahead, not only will the city’s buildings be greener, they’ll also be more affordable. Because if the landlords of NYC rental apartment buildings need to spend less and less money on energy, at some point the savings will be passed along to the customer, aka, YOU.
What got me thinking once again about this whole issue was the announcement recently by alternative energy company Voltaic Solaire that they will soon begin gut-renovating a 100-year-old Brooklyn brownstone in order to create a completely self-sufficient solar- and wind-powered Park Slope rental apartment building, the first of its kind in New York City.
Located in the heart of those lovely tree-lined streets that make Park Slope so appealing to families, the Voltaic Solaire building, says the New York Post, “will be fully powered by a 15,000-watt solar- panel system on its rooftop and terrace awnings, providing all electric, heat and hot water on site.” The brownstone’s historic exterior will remain intact, and the proposed street-level restaurant and lounge will also be reliant upon the solar panels and wind turbines for all of its energy needs.
Best of all, the price of the 6 apartments in this first of what promises to be many green rental properties, will be a remarkably reasonable $1,600 to $2,600. Look for more news on this revolutionary building as it proceeds to its scheduled opening in 2013… and for copy-cat building to follow if it’s a success.
Of course, while Voltaic Solaire’s Park Slope green rental property may be the first solar-powered residence in the city, there have been plenty of other energy-saving innovations introduced to plenty of other buildings all over town, both in new construction and through retrofitting.
In fact, if a report from the Deutsche Bank/Living Cities Building Energy Efficiency group last fall is any indication–retrofitted housing saved landlords 19% on fuel bills, and 10% on electricity translating into $240 in fuel savings and $70 in electrical savings per apartment every year–adding green engineering to existing buildings should really take off in NYC apartment buildings in the near future.
And even more extreme, as reported by the New York Times this winter and making its way to the United States from Europe, there are the passive, or “zero energy,” houses which are able to maintain a comfortable interior climate year round without any active heating and cooling systems.
Interior and exterior air exchange, an airtight building envelope, triple-paned windows (above), and energy-saving appliances are the key engineering ingredients–a fairly astonishing situation summed up by passive house owner Doug Mcdonald, who has has no energy bills. “I live in a zero carbon house,” he said. “I consume no gas, no oil, nothing.”
Is the future green rental properties? If these savings continue, and the buildings currently being retrofitted are a success, look for more landlords to replicate them in the future.
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