The Bronx may have a bad rap for being the least healthiest county in New York State, but the NYC borough is also home to a thriving green industry. Not only are sustainable businesses popping up all over the place, but innovative green buildings are becoming more common, too. Grimshaw Architects is currently building Via Verde, an 18-story mixed-income development that is taking solar power innovation to the next level. The building will be outfitted with 300 solar panels placed in different vertical spaces on the structure, freeing up the rooftop for gorgeous green gardens.
The 300,000 square foot building is located on a remediated brownfield site at Brook Avenue and East 156th Street in the South Bronx. The plan for the building came out of a 2004 design competition hosted by AIA New York. The building has 202 units, 151 of which are reserved for low-income residents. The building’s step-like design, with levels rising above one another, creates more vertical space for solar panels. The panels will provide 15 to 20 percent of the energy needed to run the building’s elevators, water pumps, and air conditioning in common areas. The installation uses off-the-shelf components, which will keep costs down, and they will be mounted on six vertical faces of the $100 million building’s facade. Horizontal arrays will be placed on the fifth and seventh floor roofs to create shaded canopies for the gardens, and two more will be place on the building’s highest tower. Energy from the 66 kilowatt system will flow into the grid when the building doesn’t need it.
Bright Power provided energy consultation on the design of Via Verde and lead architect Robert Garneau worked with Dattner Architects to maximize efficiency. The solar power system provides 2.5 percent of the buildings overall power usage, which may not seem like a lot, but it was enough to qualify the structure for LEED Gold certification. Compared to traditionally built housing complexes, it will consume one-third less energy. Other green amenities include a rainwater cachement system, low-flow water fixtures, and a design that maximizes daylight and natural breezes. The rooftop gardens on every level will help maintain the building’s internal temperature while also provide green space and fresh produce for residents.
While the design of Via Verde is exciting in itself, what’s even more thrilling is that it’s the third green affordable or supportive housing complex that we’ve reported on in recent weeks. The Schermerhorn House, built by Ennead Architects, recently won an AIA Housing Award, and The Lee by Kiss+Cathcart just officially opened its green doors. We love that architects and developers are designing low income housing with the same innovative and sustainable methods used in high profile skyscrapers. Via Verde is expected to open early next year.
Images © Grimshaw Architects