How do I build an eco-friendly building?

How do I build an eco-friendly building?

Eco-consciousness begins with making our community stronger.

The appeal of sustainability is that consumers want energy efficient spaces. People want to know what they are walking into and what they are living in. In New York, the cost of electricity rates is 130% costlier than the national average, which constitutes a large portion of the utility cost for residential and commercial tenants each month. By upgrading the building performance and investing in clean generation products will lower utility cost, overall making the building more attractive on the market. It’s important to keep innovating and finding new ways to help sustainability efforts in reducing our ecological footprint without sacrificing aesthetics. 

I choose to redevelop the building at 100 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002, an 8- story, 22 room tenement-hotel built in 1879 located in the Lower East Side on the corner of Orchard and Delancey. The building has undergone prior renovations, including steel concrete, elevator, steel canter, and levied balconies on two thirds of the rooms. When you step into this joie-de-vivre hotel. You’ll find it to be a museum-like experience. Filled with artifacts, mosaics, and memorabilia preserved as décor.

My goal as a developer is to keep the artful details but transform it into a sustainable structure. There are many accessible amenities in the neighborhood such as walking distance to train lines as well as numerous restaurants, markets, and cafes. About half an hour ride to Central Park and One World Observatory by train. This is also a prime location because it gets a profusion of foot traffic due to the Tenement Museum that’s across the street. 

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In order to optimize a climate responsive and energy conserving Gold LEED certified building. Our design and contractor team primarily focused on water and energy efficiency, waste reduction and management during construction, indoor environmental quality, insulation, low flow water fixtures, energy efficient HVAC systems, and innovation in operation.

I decided on an integrated project delivery (IPD) system so we can better collaborate under a single contractual agreement. This will ensure that the team has the same objectivity when it comes to resource efficiency, sustainability, certification, and building health. The goal is the building’s orientation, configuration, mechanical systems, and lighting components to maximize natural efficiency. The construction manager will be my main source of contact to supervise the project and keep me informed on the quality of work. My team includes a mechanical, electrical, and structural engineer, architect, contractor. And a lawyer in the schematic design and construction process alongside an interior designer to plan the design of living structural alterations to provide the creativity aspect.  

We will retrofit he boutique hotel. Moreover, fully gutted into modern elegance meets sustainability refinement, converting all dormitory rooms into single use rooms, to incorporate a green rooftop, including food composting, implementing in-room recycling containers, and food bank donation. Daylighting is an important component of an energy-efficient building.

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We used an Energy-10 platform during the design process that detailed the building’s energy analysis for heating, ventilation, air-conditioning to effectively evaluate the building’s photovoltaic performance. Daylight and occupancy sensors for guests with in-room lighting features. Controlled by guest room keys. When guests leave, the lights automatically shut off. As a result of the key leaving the slot. In addition, Tesla’s solar panels on the roof. Their design comes across to people on the street as a normal roof, covering more surface area. The photovoltaic will convert sunlight into electricity which will power the building for the day making it 100% clean. Essentially, we want our building to have a synergistic relationship with nature.  

The next step is in designing a hyper-efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. I incorporated an economizer HVAC system to move outside air into the building while removing equal amounts of interior air to the outside. It will cool off the building without the use of energy to run a compressor. The economizer evaluates the air temperature outside. And even humidity levels using logic controllers. And sensors for an accurate read on the air quality. It requires less on the air conditioning unit to cool the building and rooms. We also added a fan for another passive ventilation as back-up. If the HVAC system needs maintenance. Or has technical issues especially for the humid summer in New York.

In order to keep the building heated during the winter months, we tackled three main components: air sealing, insulation, and windows. Placing insulation closer to the exterior nearest the outdoor of the main entrance by implementing thermal conductance for the wall construction. To create an airtight building. The concrete walls become sandwiched between two layers of recycled insulation materials. Which is a less complicated construction.

The benefits are not only in energy efficiency.

But it protects against mold, insects, and rot. The double insulation also provides eco-friendly soundproofing to absorb or block noise from other guests. We’ve replaced all windows with aluminum frames made from recycled materials for increased insulation to prevent heat and cooled air from escaping. Also, the glass for the windows has double glazed with low SHGC, low E-glass. To balance the amount of light admitted. Transmitting less heat to provide greater shading. 

Being green means, we place great importance on having a healthier impact on future occupants. Other green living features we’ve incorporated are water-saving equipment and techniques by implementing low-flow showerheads, toilets and faucets, waterless urinals, and irrigation systems that use reclaimed water from the roof. Repurposing old materials, Zero CFC based refrigerants were used in the air-conditioning systems, low emitting (VOC) materials including glues, sealants and paints were used during the construction, and we installed an ozone laundry system. The ozone laundry uses oxygen and electricity that is dissolved into the water. By minimizing chemical use and the use of hot water conserving energy while killing bacteria.

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All appliances, laptops, flat-screen TVs were replaced with Energy Star certification. Carpeted in room floors have been replaced with un-carbonized bamboo flooring. Which is as durable as red oak and low maintenance. The floors of the main lobby will be replaced with stained, dry polished concrete floors that’s more durable. Extending the life of the building, better energy efficiency and improving indoor air quality. Concrete is predominantly made from limestone which is the most abundant material. Underneath the concrete floors we’ve installed radiant floor heating without having to use forced air heating.  

Water Consumption

To save on water consumption we’ve designed an eco-roof rainwater harvesting system. For irrigation, flushing toilets, and washing clothes. Which will be filtered through the pipes, pumps, and cisterns using engineered conduits. It will reduce stormwater runoff by delaying the stormwater for several hours, decrease summer temperatures, and allow you to have control over water use.

There will be a flow meter that will measure water pollution and water level indicators to monitor water level as well as a filtration and disinfection system that will treat the water for potable or non-potable use. 95% of construction waste was diverted from landfills (i.e.  power plants, steel mills, and other manufacturing facilities). And 100% of the paint and solvent contain low- or no-VOC. Resale values for LEED-certified buildings are often higher than comparable buildings that are not green.

In conclusion, other benefits of LEED buildings are not as easy to measure; better air quality within buildings may lead to higher productivity levels for employees and happier guests of the hotel. From the hospitalities perspective, selling more room nights at potentially higher rates, LEED-certified buildings typically save 30-50 percent in energy usage, 35 percent in carbon emissions, 40 percent in water emissions, and 70 percent in solid waste.

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Written by Merry Soetanto

How do I build an eco-friendly building?