Here is a cool example of creative salvaging. They have taken planks from an old brownstone roof and flipped them upside down as a ceiling.

wood ceiling

The one consideration is fire. This was done in a restaurant, which means it shares the ceiling with an apartment upstairs, which means the ceiling has to be 2 hour fire rated, which the wood planks clearly are not. So to be code you need 2 hours of fire rated sheet rock above the planks.

At that point the planks are purely aesthetic. From a green point of view they are an unnecessary use of extra resources.

As a green builder we are always looking to create at least two synergies with every step of construction. For example a counter not only has to look great but it also should be recycled. Or the plumbing not only needs to perform to code but also must save water. By leveraging synergies you conserve materials, space, money and ultimately build a more streamlined green brownstone.

A Brooklyn green contractor is constantly looking where these synergies come together during the brownstone renovation and is part of the holistic view instead of the more conventional category view of a non-green renovation where each segments is isolated from the next – the plumber does his thing, electrician his thing etc.

In a green brownstone renovation the plumber is asking the electrician how to best calibrate the water pumps so they use the least amount of electricity. The electrician is talking with the carpenter to see where the light shelves are going to be built since that will effect the increased efficiency of electric usage.

In a sense instead of each person having their specialized interests, they share a broader interest along green building lines such as efficiency, conservation and ecology. These are things that are not immediately relevant to their job and most plumbers for example don’t see a connection between world ecology and putting food on their table.

But a green builder sees a direct connection. Maybe the biggest difference between a green builder and a non-green builder is the amount of connections between all the elements. A green builder sees a lot more.

So with the ceiling planks shown above where most people would be “wow, cool salvaged wood ceiling, that is really green,” a green builder would say that too but would go a step further and ask if it would have been more synergistic on a floor for example where they are not just a nice to look at but also serve another purpose.

But hey, the ceiling looks great nonetheless.