While NYC sweltered under the summer sun, we’ve been slowly but surely tidying up punch lists and ushering new owners through the doors. There’s nothing like a 100-degree heat wave to ensure the a/c will go out just before an open house. But it isn’t all sweat and bear it, we have good news, too: we received our official LEED rating from the US Green Building Council: Platinum! We are the first building in Brooklyn to be LEED Platinum through the LEED for Homes program. We are only about the fifth in all of New York City – the others are affordable projects in the Bronx. Finally we see the pay-off for all of that tedious foam sealing of cracks and crevices!
Platinum is the highest level achievable in LEED. Many of the buildings that reach that level have all kinds of bells and whistles that are not realistic on a mass-scale. (An in-house sewage treatment plant?!) So we are especially psyched to have demonstrated that you can be super energy efficient and super green by making sensible choices.
We made it to LEED-Platinum and (waiting for the official word) ENERGY STAR (R) by using a pre-fabricated steel structural system with concrete floors; individual ducted central air conditioning; energy recovery ventilators for tempering and filtering fresh air continuously; locally sourced brick and recycled aluminum panels for the façade; water conservation measures such as dual flush toilets, super low-flow lavatories and drought-tolerant landscaping; low-VOC paints; and Forest Stewardship Council certified solid hardwood flooring.
When we started out with LEED, our initial goal was to do as well as we could without incurring a significant cost premium or taking on a major technological change. We wanted to take baby steps as we explored the world of green rating systems. Not far into the process but a world away from our starting place, we realized LEED-Gold was attainable. We learned that LEED-certification was practically guaranteed by building in Brooklyn – lots of points for being in a dense area near transportation and other infrastructure. Getting to ENERGY STAR was more of a challenge in some ways. For example, we had to use energy recovery ventilators to mechanically ventilate the energy-efficient, tight building envelope. Those suckers cost $20,000 each and we had to get eight of them!
Another challenge was actually putting up the tight building envelope that we claimed via the energy modeling. We did some blower door testing as early as we reasonably could do it and the results were good. But then, when the time came for the final testing, some sample units didn’t meet our targets. We had to stop, investigate, and ultimately do a lot more air sealing. By this time we were late enough in the game that we were installing drywall around air conditioner ducts inside of closets. It was messy and cumbersome, and overall cost more than it would have if we’d identified the problem early on. What gave us the false read on the early blower door tests? Don’t know. But now that we have our very own blower door test equipment, we can test early and often.
It almost seems unfair for us to saunter off with a LEED-Platinum rating when buildings like the Solaire (solar panels, grey water recycling, water filtration) only muster LEED-Gold. But we followed the rules, tallied the points, and the results don’t lie: Third + Bond is LEED-Platinum.
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