Viridian Future 1

Aiming to be not just the most environmentally sustainable townhouse in Manhattan, but a net zero energy home.

Time To Move On

It is thirteen months since my last post. (For those of you who have forgotten what happened thirteen months ago, we learned that the construction system we were using didnt comply with New York city regulations, so we stopped work.) During that time, we appointed a new architect and parted ways with the contractor. The new design team formulated a proposal to address the areas of non compliance, and put in an amended application to the New York city building department. That was last summer. I think the city must have gone on holiday for six months. They finally granted approval on 7th March this year. An outrageous delay, and yet another sorry indictment of the bureaucracy of the city, something for which we were not prepared, and never sufficiently warned.

With Lorna already having resigned from Mondelez, we decided back in February of last year to leave the US. Lorna accepted a very exciting post as the Chief Manifesto Catalyst for Danone, the French food multinational, and we moved to Paris on 29th May. We have been out of the US for nine months, during which time I have made repeated trips back to try and deal with the project.

Even with a team of skilled, passionate, and determined professionals, the construction industry still has so little experience doing this type of building, that the design process has been tortuous to say the least. Not only that, but the cost of construction in New York went up in some places by as much as 40% during the time of our project. This was due to developers piling in with projects before the end of a tax break.

Having repeatedly received bad advice on the cost of doing this work, we found ourselves with a project that was not consistent with our finances, given the fact that we were not expecting to be living in the house once completed. We have therefore decided to sell the property as is, with the half completed shell, but with full approval to complete the construction work to both Passive House and LEED standard.

It is time for us to move on. With us living in London, and Lorna working in Paris, it is just not sense to have a major project in New York.

There are wounds to lick, lessons to integrate, and new dreams to replace old nightmares. All will take time. I felt a sense of relief when finally deciding to sell up, as it has been a strain for a long time now. I have to admit that right from the decision to appoint the first architect and contractor, I made errors of judgement. I did insufficient research on their capability. Even tho I had a dream of doing the project as sustainably as possible, I didnt know enough of the technicalities to know that the architect was out of his depth, and against Lornas better judgement, I held on longer than was healthy. We never really recovered.

I want to thank many friends and others who have said positive and encouraging words about our dream. We can only hope that others have learned lessons from our efforts, and that we have made a contribution to the progress towards sustainable building. Maybe the new owners will follow that path too. And maybe yet we will do another project that integrates some or all of what we have learned.

Wishing you all better luck with your projects.

Abel and Lorna

Web Design by Abel B'Hahn, with grateful thanks to The Story of Us | VIRIDIAN FUTURE 1 | New York, New York, USA