The Greening of NY Spreads Through Solar

When the developer Voltaic Solaire finishes its nearly complete headquarters and showhouse named “The Delta” later this summer, New York will take one step closer to Eco-Brooklyn’s collective goal of turning New York green. The five-story Delta, located on Hamilton Avenue and Ninth Street, just a few blocks south of our Green Show House, will be independently off the grid.

The view of The Delta from down Ninth Avenue. The solar panel siding and awning are clearly visible from the street.

 

Front view of The Delta. The vertical wind turbine with an anemometer and solar awning are mounted on top of the roof.

The building utilizes most of its surface area for renewable energy sources. The Delta has three sides (ergo earning its name), two of which are completely covered by solar photovoltaic siding, regular solar photovoltaic panels, and solar thermal panels. On the front side there is a brick façade with energy efficient windows that optimize solar gains. On the roof, there is a solar photovoltaic awning and a small vertical axis wind turbine. Even with no southern exposure to the solar panels, the solar and wind systems generate enough energy to power the 2,700-square-foot property.

Close up view of the solar skin on the third side of The Delta

In addition to their office/showroom, Solaire Voltaic is currently working on a $1 million renovation of a Park Slope 19th-century brownstone on 367 Fifth Avenue. The brownstone will be covered with solar photovoltaic siding and have a solar awning on the roof. It is estimated that the panels will generate 18,000 kWh of electricity throughout the year, enough to power all six units in the 7,000-square-foot building.

Along with intense utilization of renewable energy, Solaire Voltaic also uses some of the same classic green building techniques that Eco-Brooklyn uses such as LED lighting, insulated pipes, energy-efficient windows and appliances, and foam barriers at the walls to prevent air from escaping.

Solar skin on the side of The Delta. They do not look like regular PV panels.

As a NY green builder, we agree with everything that Solaire Voltaic has been doing thus far with green building and renewable energy. But there is some good and bad news.

Of course, let’s start off with the bad news. The Delta was constructed as a completely new building from the ground up. This
requires the use of virgin resources that require extraction, refinement, and transportation to and from the place of retail. All of these processes are carbon intensive, which contribute further to global warming.

Developers such as Solaire Voltaic solve energy problems with their renewable energy systems but fail to address problems such as water management, resource use, and ecosystem disturbance.

But on to the good news. According to the New York Times article, parts of The Delta employ reused and recycled materials such as the towel racks created with scrap metal, the recycled concrete flooring with bits of recycled glass, and the stairwell made with scrap mosaic tiles. This may not be much but it is a step in the right direction.

As a NY Green Contractor we strongly believe in the use of salvaged and recycled materials as a core element of the construction process because of the elimination of cost and negative environment impact.
Developers are often focused solely on profit, so they have historically not been interested in participating in endeavors that
would not garner a large profit. Over the past twenty years, the cost of solar panels has gone down seven fold. Therefore, creating and renovating building to become net-zero energy through alternative energy sources is undergoing economies of scale, causing endeavors such as this to become profitable and economically viable. If this pattern continues, the future is definitely looking less carbon intensive.
And now that the economy is not booming there is more incentive for developers to rent out their units instead of selling them. As the owner the developer has more of a vested interest in making a building that makes sense in the long run instead of building simply for the short sale.

Eco-Brooklyn’s main goal as a New York green builder is to focus on all green building aspects from renewable energy to the creation of ecosystems- and everything in between. Because the environment is such a complicated system, it is important to take a multifaceted approach when completing our projects. We focus on thinking of the impact of all our actions, and creating synergistic effects among multiple parts of our projects.

An example of this would be using rainwater to water the green roof, flush our toilets, water our garden, and fill our natural pool. Throw gray water into the mix and you have a complex ecosystem. Our talent and interest is understanding the many connections involved in green building.

The green building learning curve is steep for all of us, and trying to do it all alone is tough, so despite Eco Brooklyn’s broad scope we understand that there is a need for people to specialize. For example, the solar job done by Solaire Voltaic is really setting the standard in NY solar construction. For us that is their true contribution to green building.

The front view of Eco-Brooklyn's Green Show House