Abel - owner
Why am I pushing to create the most environmentally friendly townhouse in New York?
Back in my thirties, my then wife and I lived in rural Devon in UK. I was passionate about environmental issues, not because of the heightened awareness of global warming we have now, but because, idealistically, I believed that we are stewards of this planet and need to look after it. I was vegan for fifteen years, and vegetarian for twenty two. We used to have notices above our toilet cistern telling people how much water was flushed down the toilet every week, and asking them not to flush unless necessary. We had a business manufacturing and hiring out Waterbirth pools along with selling washable diapers by mail order. Not quite the hair shirt brigade, but committed nonetheless.
As the years went past, and the joints in my neurons started stiffening up, I gradually became less passionate, and started telling myself that I had done my bit and it was time for my sons generation to deal with the problem. If it cost me time or effort, then I stopped bothering. In fact, generally, I became less liberal in my beliefs and my ways. On my way towards a grumpy old man. In 2006, I moved to Shanghai with my wife Lorna. And what an environmental shock that was! I found myself putting all the garbage in one trash can just because the authorities did not provide a system for separating the trash. I stopped making any effort, for six years.
Increasingly though, there was a part of me that didn't feel comfortable with my abdication, and there was a voice inside that said that raising our son with love was not a sufficient gift to him, and I needed to take more responsibility for my impact on the world that he was inheriting. Reading the Economist, and complaining about how America refused to join the Kyoto accord just wasn't good enough.
So when we arrived in New York, and after so many frustrating years of not being in a position to do some property development (another passion of mine), I grabbed the chance to integrate all the ideas I had been imagining and reading about, into a property. Having bought a townhouse that we could have total control over the renovation, I started researching and learning about what could be done since I last managed a renovation.
I spoke to people, and spoke to the people that those people connected me with, and ended up at a seminar in Washington DC on the Living Building Challenge. This is a challenge laid down before all those involved in property, to create buildings and developments that not only dont add further damage to the environment, but go one step further and actively contribute to the regeneration of the environment.
I have accepted that achieving Living Building Challenge standard will not be possible in this dense urban environment, and at economic sense, but I am aiming for net zero energy, Passive House Plus, major environmentally sustainable water management , exclusion of all materials on the Living Building Challenge Red List, and sourcing materials from sustainable sources wherever possible.
Irena – DESIGN ARCHITECT
I have 25+ years of experience in multi-family design that blends quality with sustainability. Before opening my own architectural practice in 2007, I worked as a design associate at top residential firms in New York City, mapping out over 10 million square feet of projects. A licensed architect in NY and NJ (NCARB), I hold a master’s in advanced architectural design from Columbia University. I am a NCIDQ-Certified Interior Designer, a USGBC LEED BD+C Accredited Professional, and a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor. Here’s what I want to say about my vision, my values, and the Viridian Future Project:
At the age of 10, I had lots of questions. How did water travel up the five-story walk-up where I lived? Why were the rooms laid out the way they were? And, most important, why didn’t my building have an elevator? I began dreaming up all sorts of ways that an elevator could be installed, and sketched them on a 24”x18” blackboard that was mounted on the wall of my bedroom.
To me, quality is a blend of the best design traditions from several cultures: Croatia, where I was born; Germany, where I spent my early years; and America, where my family moved in 1976. Quality is also sustainable.
Viridian Future exemplifies this definition, and also reflects the teachings of three influencers in my life: my mother, my father, and my high-school leadership teacher. From my mother, a registered nurse, I learned the importance of health. From my father, an innovator, I learned to create and invent. From my teacher, I learned to commit to a vision.
In short, I’m proud to have helped bring the Viridian Future Project to life. And I’m certain that my 10-year-old self – the girl who dreamed of designing better environments – would approve.
Jon Eklund - General Contractor
Born and raised in New York, I have a long history of construction and development in the area, beginning with my father’s design/build firm on Long Island. Following a passion toward sustainability, I founded Ecostruct LLC in 2009 as a vehicle for improving existing building stock and constructing new high performance homes in the metro area. In 2011, I became one of the first NYC trade professionals with the U.S. Passive House Institute, an organization dedicated to the development and construction of high performance single- and multi-family buildings. To date, Ecostruct has completed several high performance projects, including a certified single family passive townhouse in Brooklyn.
Our drive and determination, toward improving building performance and, in turn our surrounding environment, is forever growing. Myself and the Ecostruct family are thrilled to be a part of the Viridian Future team at 130 West 95th Street. The project design and performance measures planned are ground breaking, and we are excited to contribute to a project that will really push the performance boundaries on an urban single family home.
Ed May - Passive House Engineer
Building-Type is a design and consulting partnership based in Brooklyn, NY specializing in using energy modeling and data to drive design. Through a diverse body of work including academic, residential, commercial and government projects, we seek to help our clients create the most energy-efficient, comfortable and well designed buildings possible.
Building-Type partners are certified by the Passive House Institute (PHI) as well as the Passive House Institute of the US (PHIUS) to design and consult on certified ‘Passive House’ projects – the most rigorous building energy standard in use across the construction industry today. We have been involved in teaching at both the NewSchool University as well Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. In addition, we contribute regularly to the Passive House Academy and the North American Passive House Network (NPAHN) as trainers, passing on what we have learned about creating high-performance, low-energy buildings.
We are thrilled to be part of the team helping to create this unique project and we hope this can serve as a model for anyone who is seeking to create a truly sustainable and resilient building.
Thomas Gately - Solar Designer
I am the founder of Green Power Solutions. I have worked in the solar and broader renewable energy industry since 2002. I have been personally involved in just about every aspect of the solar business from roof installation, electrical installation, drafting and system design (structural and electrical) and project management and financing. In the last few years, I have been involved more in training staff, quality control, inspections, design approval and developing new markets. I also enjoys the teaching aspect of solar / sustainability and have been teaching solar energy part time at CUNY and a few other local schools and organizations throughout the New York City area.
I strongly believe in the issue of climate change and am concerned about the challenges it poses to the planet into the future. I believe we all have a responsibility to do what we can on an individual basis to do our own part to help solve this problem. I love the stated mission of this project, namely Net Zero, as it represents what all buildings in the future should be aiming towards!
"I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that." Thomas Edison, 1931
Elisabetta Liumbruno - Solar Designer
I was born and raised in Tuscany, Italy. I always loved drawing and design so I choose to study Architecture. Since I was in Italy I enrolled in Sapienza University in Rome and while I was there I learned about the ancient architecture and the ancient buildings. I also learned that they were already sustainable, so I learned how to use old technology with modern ones.
After Rome, I decided to move to New York City because I was fascinated with the beautiful mix of architectural styles. I came here as a Ph. D student at The Cooper Union during which time I was also an intern at Green Power Solutions. During the day I studied new architectural styles and learned about thedifferent techniques that were used in New York. During the evening I increased my knowledge in sustainable energy, particularly with the use of solar. I love that I now have the possibility to create beautiful designs that will help to make the environment better and which will make people happier.
Alan Burchell - Green RooF Designer
As the founder and principal of Urbanstrong, I am a professionally licensed mechanical engineer, an accredited leader in energy and environmental design with a focus on Building Design and Construction (LEED AP BD+C), and a certified Green Roof Professional. While completing the Earth Institute’s Master of Science in Sustainability Management program at Columbia University, I focused on water and energy issues in urban centers, and shortly thereafter founded Urbanstrong, with the mission of improving the quality of life in our cities.
Urbanstrong is proudly handling the design, installation and maintenance of all things vegetative, including multiple green roof areas, the internal stairwell’s living wall garden, and all exterior landscaping. Beyond design execution, I look forward to communicating to all who experience Viridian Future One (be that virtually, in the news, on this blog, or in a tour group) the many benefits of biophilia - of maximizing one’s exposure to nature, both indoors and out. This is particularly important in dense urban centers like New York City, the home of Viridian Future One.
Our approach is to employ “Progressive designs that are driven by technology, but inspired by nature.”