Friday, January 22, 2010

Building Code Green

Every day I walk by a construction site on my way home from work. In the morning, the dumpsters are empty. By the end of the day, they are bursting at the seams. Bailey, my dog, loves to pee on the bins. I like to think this is his way of expressing dissatisfaction at all the unnecessary waste.

In the past, nobody cared whether construction sites were green. They were simply a means to a necessary end, such as a new school, a store, or a skyscraper. Today, it's different. I'm amazed at how many construction projects there are in New York , and how many of them are for . . . banks.

For a building to be considered green, it must be certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.™ This is something that was developed by the US Green Building Council. It is a way to identify buildings that incorporate energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

There are some “green” buildings out there. New York City has a few, including The Octagon on Roosevelt Island, a brand new one in Kips Bay and my favorite, Riverhouse. As its name promises, it overlooks the Hudson . Its most famous resident is Leonardo DiCaprio. Right there…how bad could it be! Not only King of the World, but king of environmental activism!

The building boasts using only non-pollutant materials and finishes, and residents are provided with twice-filtered air and solar-powered energy…my dream!

A few months ago, John and I thought that it would be cool to check it out. We walked into the gorgeous lobby, through the halls which sprouted fitness centers, children’s playrooms, billiards area and a media café and into the sales office.

The salesman greeted us with a smile and showed us the 3D version of the building. After talking about the amazing amenities, he showed us an apartment. There were two bedrooms with the space to create a third, an open living room/kitchen with floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the Hudson, a washer and dryer (a slice of heaven not having to lug 30 pounds of laundry to the Laundromat), and a decent amount of closet space (about three).

We drooled, ooohed and ahhhed. Simply euphoria. Then there was the small matter of the price. It was only about $2 million.

“We have to find a way to make this work!” I exclaimed to John who turned to the man, thanked him for his time and pulled me out, kicking and screaming.

We jumped on the subway and headed home to walk Bailey, who peed on yet another construction site. One that, presumably, wouldn't cost us $2 million to move into.