New York City group home is golden and green

In a continuing effort to meet the needs of the community,HeartShare Human Services of New York recently opened two newresidential programs for children and adolescents with autismspectrum disorders that are the first such facilities in New YorkCity to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. One residenceis for seven girls and the other is for seven boys, ages 8 through21. Early in the process, HeartShare administrators were committedto a project that was as environmentally conscious as possible andcould meet the many requirements for achieving LEED for Homes Goldcertification.

LEED certification provides independent, third-partyverification that a building, home or community was designed andbuilt using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in keyareas of human and environmental health: sustainable sitedevelopment, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selectionand indoor environmental quality. The structure HeartShare chosefor the project was a former convent located at 131 Bay 19thStreet, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn that was built in 1964 and owned bySt. Finbar’s Church. The project involved a gut renovation of thebuilding and its reconfiguration as a two-family residence. Thebuilding is conveniently located next door to The HeartShareSchool, where the children attend school on a daily basis.

There were many special efforts undertaken to achieve LEED forHomes Gold certification for the project. During renovation,numerous green building practices and energy-saving features wereused to make the project a sustainable one that reduced the overallenvironmental footprint. These included:

• Sorting and recycling demolition and construction waste toreduce the

amount of material going into landfills

• Using low-flow plumbing fixtures to reduce waterconsumption

• Installing sprayed foam insulation, high-performance, low-Ewindows,

and ENERGY STAR cooling equipment, lighting and appliances toreduce energy consumption

• Installing an energy-efficient gas boiler with a hot waterfeature

eliminating the need for a separate water heater

• Installing efficient, high-performance ventilation to ensureoptimum

indoor air quality

• Using low VOC interior paints and varnishes that produced nofumes

• Planting drought-tolerant plants with mulching and trees forshade as

part of the overall landscape design

Additional rating points were achieved for reusing the existingbuilding’s shell, purchasing as many locally sourced materials andproducts as possible, and being in an urban area where buildingresidents and employees have ready access to public transportationas well as local stores, banks, supermarkets, libraries, parks, andother amenities.

While some of HeartShare’s green building efforts-such assorting of demolition and construction debris and the use of sprayfoam insulation-may have taken extra time and resulted in modestincreased costs upfront, the long-term benefits to HeartShare andits residents will include lower energy bills and a healthierindoor environment for years to come. HeartShare is committed todoing its part to create a sustainable world and looks forward tousing similar green building practices in future projects.

Collaborating with HeartShare on the project were architecturalfirm Napach Rothenberg Architects of New York City, generalcontractor Nativo, LLC of Brooklyn, and sustainable constructionconsultant Steven Winter Design, a division of Steven WinterAssociates, Inc.

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