Here we present the plans, along with descriptions of most of the significant features of the design.
You can see the plans by clicking on the following links.
So what is going to make this New York Townhouse special?
1. Climate Control
The existing and new walls will be so well insulated that, during the winter the heat generated by the people and activity within will be sufficient to keep it warm. As part of this, the windows will be such a high specification that we can afford to have a large window area.
In the summer, the solar awnings will capture the heat from the sun, rather than letting it in thru the windows. The air conditioning will be a high efficiency design, that takes air from cool places and moves it to the warm areas.
All year round, the building will be so well sealed that no air will pass into or out of the building without passing thru a heat exchanger to capture winter warmth and summer cold. Because the system will not need to cope with heat losses and gains, the flow rate of the air in the ducts will be slow enough not to be noticed by occupants. Also, all the air will pass thru a filter as it is constantly circulated, keeping a permanent high air quality.
2. Power Consumption and Generation
Having established that neither wind nor geothermal energy are available to us, we have maximized our capacity for solar power generation. On both the south facing vertical wall, and the roof of the fifth floor, we will have the latest and most efficient solar thermal and PV panels. The PV component will generate electricity directly, the 'thermal' component will generate hot water. We will have no gas supply in the building, and will burn no fossil fuels. All our space heating and hot water will be provided by solar power. Not only that, but we hope that we will generate enough electricity to offset all the power we take from the mains grid, leading to net zero energy. All our lighting will be provided using LED's, and cooking will be high efficiency induction elements that generate the heat directly in the pan, rather than transferring it to the pan.
In addition, we will pass all our waste water thru heat exchangers to capture the heat before it passes into the sewers. This heat will preheat the water in the domestic hot water tank, saving more than 30% of our heat load.
3. Water Management
All the water that lands on the solar roof will be collected and stored in barrels on the roof. It will be treated to a standard safe for domestic usage. Initially it will be used for flushing toilets, irrigation of the living wall, and laundry, but the system will be in place so that, once the authorities have caught up with the times, we will be able to use it for showering, washing, in fact all non drinking purposes. We will then not be dependent on beautiful countryside being flooded to create reservoirs, along with vastly expensive pipes to bring water to us.
This is an area that will go mostly unnoticed, and may be of little interest to some. A high proportion of the materials used will be either recycled, or indefinitely recyclable, or from sustainable sources. Most materials will be obtained from sources as local as possible. All materials will give off no gases into the air of the home. All materials will pass the RED list of the International Living Future Institute.
5. Garden Roof
(see above link to its own page)
The top roof garden will have deep planters, with soil deep enough to grow root vegetables. It will be accessed via a staircase from the fifth floor. It will have lighting and trellises for beauty, and moreover, it will use the compost generated by the wormery that will process all kitchen and organic waste. It will have a hot tub, heated by the solar thermal system, a deck, and will be a green roof, using the excess water from the canopy to prevent rainwater entering the city sewage system. It will be a great social and relaxing space.
6. Design and Comfort
This is perhaps the bit that most people will be interested in, so here is a list of some of the architectural and design features that will compliment that fact that this is still the most sustainable townhouse in Manhattan.
- Circular Glass Elevator
- Magnificent kitchen, with quality fittings and appliances from Jennair, Gaggenau, Insinkerator, designed for efficiency, space, and practicality.
- Three waste management systems; for compostable waste, for recyclable waste, and for the remaining non recyclable waste.
- Sumptuous master bathroom with Grohe digital controls, large, double shower, double bath, and double sinks.
- Laundry chute down to utility room.
- Dumb waiter from kitchen to dining room.
- Double height south facing window from kitchen and dining room out onto the rear garden.
- Hardwood staircase, with facility for a living wall, growing flowers and leaf vegetables.
- Inlayed cork flooring thru living, dining and kitchen. Hardwood flooring on entry floor, carpeted bedroom floors.
- A living wall down the central staircase. Depending on what is planted, the salad at lunch could be picked directly from the wall.
- A range of decorative features to bring style and continuity to the home.
Worthy of a heading of its own, the building will have a centralized control system, covering lighting, shades, audio and video, security, power consumption/generation and water usage. This will be accessed online, via an app on a phone, remotely, and via touch screens on each floor. No more fumbling for keys to open the front door, no more coming home to a cold house after a winter holiday, no more running back to turn off the lights. And all data about energy saving and water conservation will be available in real time.
8. Daylight Collection
We will be bringing in from Sweden an amazing system of solar collectors, connected via fiber optic cables, to ceiling outlets that look like light fittings, but which provide genuine daylight. This will both dramatically reduce our need for electric light during the day, improve the lighting color and feel for people in the home, and provide light for the living wall, which will itself also add to the feel of the environment in the home.