What makes a Brownstone green? Eco Brooklyn focuses on building green brownstones in Brooklyn so this is a question I ask on an ongoing basis.

Below is a changing and non-hierarchical list of what I think makes a Brownstone green. The list contains things that fulfill the following things:
Less monthly costs to the owners (utilities, maintenance, etc)
Less impact on the environment (energy consumption, waste creation, materials used etc)
Healthier environment for tenants and neighborhood (outside greenery, indoor air quality etc)

The list is not a bullet point but rather a cloud of elements that form a fuzzy whole. You can’t put your finger on the point when a Brownstone becomes a Green Brownstone. It is a process that changes for each building depending on budget, what the building started as, needs of tenants, the neighborhood etc.

What Makes a Green Brownstone:

– A renovated existing building, not a newly constructed building.
– Not a large building, small building footprint.
– Built in a dense metropolitan area.
– Hyper insulated.
– Renovated with salvaged materials – mostly wood and bricks.
– Solar hot water heating panels.
– Solar Photovoltaic panels.
– High efficiency water heating unit (water tank or boiler)
– Grey water and rain water collection system.
– Native plant garden.
– Green Roof.
– Edible garden.
– Beehive.
– No driveway.
– Close to public transportation.
– Close to jobs and basic services.
– Low E gas filled fiberglass frame windows.
– Solar gain: large windows on south, small on north, east and west.
– Window overhangs.
– Solatubes.
– Home run hot water pipes.
– Hot water return plumbing with regulated pump.
– Hyper insulated hot water pipes.
– Main electric shut off switch near front door.
– Bicycle storage.
– Low EMF electric wiring.
– Low VOC and toxins in house.
– Recycling.
– Dug out, vapor barrier and sun filled cellar or basement.
– Soundproofed interior walls.
– Only LED lighting through out.
– ……let me know if I missed something.

Things I left out:
– On demand water heaters. These are great for some uses but not when you have radiant floor heat.
– Radiant floor heat. I’m on the fence with this. It is nice but expensive and you can heat the house very well with radiant wall panels for 1/3rd the price.
– LEED certification. Being LEED certified indicates you have green features but does not indicate they fit together well nor if they were even needed in the first place.