Viridian Future 1

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

Back on the Case

Surprise. Surprise. Here I am again, writing a post for Viridian Future One. As I wrote last time, back in April 2016, we put the house on the market in spring 2016. Well the only interested people were developers who wanted to make their profit, so we didnt get any offers sufficient to prevent us losing a great deal of money.

The next development was Lornas decision to separate. So, with no requirement for me to be in the same place as her, and a separation of our finances, I decided that this was an opportunity for me to return to New York and finish what I had started. In October 2016 I moved out of the London home, put all my possessions in storage, and set off with two suitcases to live as a gypsy until further notice.

Until such time as my visa application is approved, I am only able to be in New York on a visitors visa, which means a somewhat precarious existence. Unwilling to commit to a lease on a stable place to live, I have been shuttling between Airbnb, friends, and hotels. I hope it is all worth it in the end!

 

Having been imagining for many months that we would be selling the house, I have come back to it with a fresh perspective, and asked Irena the architect and the engineers to review the design. I have reconsidered the design criteria, with focus both on the sustainability features, and on how commercial the interior design is. Acknowledging that I will never live in the place, I accept that my design ideas (just like my dress code) make no compromise with current fashion, so maybe it is time to let go of my creative color matching and accept that the New York style is white on white, with stone and marble in various shades of gray…

One of many examples of how this project has evolved as my understanding has grown, is the removal of LEED* as a design criterion. It became clear that, certainly for domestic properties, LEED adds considerably to the construction cost, without adding so much to the sustainability of the property once people are living in it. Far more important is the energy efficiency and materials used. Thats not to say that the goals of LEED are not valuable, its just that the documentation of them is very problematic and doesnt add to the perception within purchasers of the sustainability of the place that might be their home.

I have also been persuaded that the roof, altho it was granted permission, cannot remain. The architect and team will attest to how hard I fought to keep it. This issue demonstrates one of the problems for me, of maintaining my commitment to sustainability, whilst rectifying mistakes that were made in the first phase of this project. Not only do we have the roof that has to be removed, but we have the SIPS* that, now that they cannot be considered as structural, are not as efficient an insulation as the space they occupy could be, and may need to be removed. My commitment is that nothing that we remove from the building goes in a hole in the ground. If we cannot find a way to reuse the material on site, then we have to find a way to sell them for reuse, or recycle them. I am sure it is true that few projects proceed from start to finish without mistakes. For many, that is a matter of economics, the cost of rectifying the mistake is less than that of avoiding its existence. In the case of sustainable building, we have to make sure the project remains sustainable including the rectification of mistakes.

In upcoming posts, I will share more of the dilemmas and compromises on the sustainability, plus some technological developments that will enable us to do things we couldnt do before. I will also say more on the importance and benefits of sustainable building, to us, our children, our childrens children, and the planet itself.

I might also share more of the journey this project has taken me on. Suffice to say at this moment, its like a roller coaster that not only throws you up and down and from side to side, but drags you under water and keeps you there until your lungs are bursting and then some, before flipping you upside down and flinging you out into the air and giving you only a few moments to recover before the next twist and turn.

Until next time.

 

LEED - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

SIPS - Structural Insulated Panel System

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