New York's mayor has told city agencies to build with climate change in mind while private developers are pushing the envelope on passive design

New York City dropped to number two behind Washington, DC in the green buildings awards stakes year, but a new set of guidelines from the mayor's office on resilient building might push the Big Apple back to the top spot in 2018.

The guidelines instruct city agencies to build with climate change in mind, and to include projections for climate impacts through to 2080. New public buildings are to include robust backup systems for power outages, window shades and building angling to avoid direct sunlight, and use materials that absorb heat.

Green roofs and permeable pavements are also suggested against increasing storms. In spite of flood risk, New York’s waterfront magnetically attracts luxury development, and the resilience standards are not mandatory for private builders. Yet just as green building standards were at first rejected and then adopted by the design and construction community, resilience rules are likely to enter the mainstream. Hurricane Sandy was a seminal storm that altered the view on the need for resilience against climate events.

Across the East River from Manhattan, Hunter’s Point South Park has a storm protection buffer park of ten acres; meanwhile a 100-unit passive building further southeast from the city in Far Rockaway in Queens, called Beach Green Dunes, is designed to withstand severe weather and flooding, eschewing residential units on the ground floor and instead allowing only commercial spaces surrounded by bioswales, landscape elements designed to concentrate or remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water, and permeable asphalt. Beach Green Dunes is not quite complete, but 50,000 people entered a lottery to gain leases to the 100 units, which range from studio to three-bedroom apartments.

On NYC’s Roosevelt Island, in the East River between Manhattan and Long Island, sits the tallest passive-construction building in the world. With 26 stories and 350 dorm rooms, Cornell Tech’s passive dorm (pictured) is designed to save more than 800 tonnes of CO2 annually (compared to if it had been traditionally constructed); students will pay 5% more to live in the dorm. Handel Architects of New York hope this tower shows large-scale builders the promise of passive in the US. At Cornell the next building current being erected, the Bloomberg Center, has 1,464 solar panels and a geothermal system that aims to make enough energy to cover the building’s needs for a net zero use result when it opens this September.

This is one article in Ethical Corporation's briefing on sustainability in the Trump era. See also:

#WeAreStillIn: 'America will meet the Paris Agreement despite Trump'

‘In the void left by coal, a new economy can grow’

Private sector in the co-pilot’s seat

Bringing the SDGs home to Philadelphia

‘Tiny homes’ aim to tackle crisis in affordable housing

‘Cities badly need business allies in fight against climate change’

Green buildings  climate resilience  Cornell Tech  Beach Green Dunes 

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