Manhattan to gain revolutionary eco-friendly commercial buildings

Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) has launched a new set of environmental construction guidelines for revolutionary eco-friendly commercial buildings, which include on-site water treatment and landscaped roof areas.

Battery Park City is built on a 92-acre former landfill, on the southern tip of Manhattan Island, adjacent to the former location of the World Trade Centre. Last year, the City authorities announced the commencement of construction of a futuristic apartment block following similar guidelines (see related story).

The BPCA has issued the new set of guidelines for commercial/institutional development because ‘green’ standards for commercial development are more advanced than for residential construction and because the two types of buildings often have different design requirements, says the Authority. For example, central air conditioning is necessary for commercial offices where windows are sealed, but not for residential apartments where tenants usually prefer the option of opening their windows.

The guidelines include:

  • on-site storage, filtering and recycling of wastewater to supply flush water for toilets and other maintenance functions;
  • photovoltaic panels for generating electric power to provide at least 5% of the building’s requirements, and space allocated for the future use of fuel cells;
  • the collection of storm water from the roof, and plumbing fixtures that use 20% less water than required by the Energy Policy Act of 1992;
  • energy strategies that are 35% more efficient than current New York State codes, including dimmable and motion-detector controlled lighting, low-E glazing, high efficiency insulation, 30% more natural light, and energy-efficient appliances;
  • enclosed storage for bicycles;
  • the recycling of waste construction material;
  • landscaped roof areas to reduce heat gain and loss;
  • use of construction materials with recycled content; and
  • the installation of efficient heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems with high amounts of filtered outdoor air, with 85% of particulates removed.

“I am delighted that the Battery Park City Authority continues to set the pace for environmentally-responsible construction in our state and nation,” said New York Governor George E Pataki. “Our Green Buildings program is not only smart policy, it sends an important message: in the State of New York, a healthy economy and a healthy environment go hand in hand.”

“Our green guidelines take a ‘total system approach’ to cost-effective construction,” said James F Gill, Chairman of the Hugh L Cary Battery Park City Authority. “Improved environmental quality, increased water conservation, the efficient use of energy and “green” marketing strategies are making Battery Park City a model for urban development.”

Although the costs of ‘green’ construction can be higher, greater levels of efficiency and operational savings bring significant long-term paybacks, says the BPCA. Builders may also be eligible for special funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the US Department of Energy, the New York Power Authority, and Governor Pataki’s first-in-the-nation Green Building Tax Credit.

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