Green has become so much more than just a color; it’s now a way of thinking and living. Green is the new way of planning, constructing, and building. While there are many different standards for Green buildings, the most common is LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which is a standard created by the U.S. Green Building Council. In this process, points are accumulated for best-in-class building strategies and practices. Earning points helps buildings achieve different levels of certification, which go from certified to silver to gold to platinum.

What is Green?

The term “Green building” can apply to both pre-existing and new building designs. According to an online article on Stand Up For The Earth, the following are five characteristics common to Green buildings:

1. Water Management

The installation of water efficient equipment and appliances can help reduce water consumption without decreasing performance levels.

2. Indoor Environment

Providing the right balance of fresh air is achievable through HVAC systems, along with using materials that emit low-VOCs. Skylights and an abundance of windows help natural sunlight enter while reducing the use of artificial lighting.

3. Site Design and Planning

When designing a site plan, location is critical, especially when it’s within walking distance of everyday conveniences, such as a subway station. This walkability helps to reduce automobile pollution.

4. Material and Product Selection

Using renewable materials, such as bamboo flooring or wool carpets, during the construction process helps to reduce, reuse, and recycle materials.

5. Energy

The use of solar and wind energy helps to naturally create building electricity on site, instead of obtaining energy through a power plant.

Green Buildings

For years now, green buildings have been one of the most exciting and lively topics in real estate publications.  Many believe it will be 2007. However, that is remembered as the real tipping point in the public’s discussion of environmental issues.

New York City is at the center of the international discussion of environmental issues and green buildings.  The Clinton Foundation, located in Harlem, recently announced at the US mayor’s convention a plan to retrofit public buildings in the world’s 100 largest cities to make them more environmentally friendly and energy efficient. Similarly, Mayor Bloomberg has announced what his administration is calling “PlaNYC,” which will lower total greenhouse gas emission by thirty percent by 2030 when compared to 2005 levels.

New York City Co-ops are also leading the way regarding retrofitting old buildings to be more energy efficient.  They are responding in part to the environmental movement.  At least as persuasive, though, is the potential savings in energy costs.  For instance, a 20,000 dollar investment in weatherizing a 60,000 square foot apartment building will, on average, turn a profit after only five years worth of savings from reduced electrical costs.

While retrofitting previously existing buildings makes much economic and environmental sense, the building of new green condos is generally considered more exciting and perhaps even more important to the long-term health of the environment.  The integration of environmental concerns into the building design process is one of the most fundamental changes to hit the architectural world in some time.

Green building is mainly a combination of using recycled materials in the construction process, energy conservation, and use of alternative sources for energy.

Manhattan’s Battery Park City is considered one of the greenest urban neighborhoods in the U.S.  The Solaire, for instance, is the world’s first green high rise residential building.   The Visionaire is the first building to earn the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” (LEED) ranking of “platinum.” Both The Solaire and the nearby Tribeca Green hold a LEED ranking of “gold.”

At 601 West 57th Street is The Helena, which also has earned the LEED “gold” ranking and, furthermore, receives 50% of its energy from wind-generated power sources.

These buildings are the first wave of New York City green buildings, an area of real estate that is generally considered to be one of the biggest long-term growth sectors the market has to offer.

Top Green Buildings

Here are just a few of the top Green apartments found in New York City:

  • Brooklyn

    Located in the Downtown area, The Toren is a new, luxury tower, featuring 240 condos. These condos encompass resort-inspired amenities, along with a bi-level roof garden, and will receive the LEED Gold certification.

  • Battery Park City

    The Visionaire is Manhattan’s first and only LEED Platinum certified building with construction completed with 50% recycled materials. This building also features a central water filtration system, along with luxury amenities.

  • Upper East Side

    The Lucida, the first LEED certified building in the Upper East Side, features a sustainable air filtration system, low-VOC features, and an ambitious recycling program, along with luxurious conveniences.

  • Chelsea

    Chelsea Green, awarded LEED Gold certification, boasts top-of-the-line amenities for Green living, along with being a Model for energy-efficiency.

  • NoHo

    Recently redesigned, The Schumacher features 16-foot barrel-vaulted ceilings and massive windows allowing for plenty of natural light to enter each unit. This apartment complex also houses a rooftop garden and is close to world-class shopping, restaurants, and bars.

  • West Village

    The Village Green West, a relatively new apartment development, is set to earn the LEED Gold Certification due in part to its energy-efficient appliances, water conserving fixtures, high-performance windows, and low-cost heating and cooling systems.

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