Spring ’09 tour recap: Bronx Green Buildings

Petr explains El Jardin's construction
Petr Stand introduces El Jardin

GreenHomeNYC’s Spring 2009 Green Buildings open house tours took place in early May, by bus and bike in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. Thanks to GreenHome volunteer Mohini Tadikonda for this description of the day —

The Bronx tour visited three green buildings and two suppliers of green materials. We started with El Jardin, a 12 story residential building still under construction. Architect Petr Stand from Magnusson Architecture and Planning explained the building’s origins and green features. An interesting fact learned by the group was that gravel at the entrance of a construction site indicates that the site might be going for LEED certification.  The gravel traps dirt and helps muddy water percolate before going into the sewer system. The group loved the fact that the laundry room is off of the 2nd floor garden space making it friendlier than your typical basement laundry room.  At El Jardin we were reminded that Green building does not just apply the the technical aspects of the design but also the overall quality of life created by thinking outside the box. You can find more info about El Jardin in our green buildings directory.

Waiting for reuse at ReBuilder's Source
Cabinet waiting for reuse at ReBuilder's Source

Next we headed to ReBuilder’s Source, a discount retailer and the first worker-owned building materials and reuse center. Open for only a year, they have created a self-sustained cooperative and alternative source of building material using surplus and used building materials. We were greeted by Omar and Sonia who work very hard and wear many hats! Omar took us through the vast warehouse and let us poke around all of the treasures.  Some of the highlights were the copper sink, the theater seats from Carnegie Hall that they have set up to create a mini theater (they hold free movie screenings weekly!), and the hundreds of boxes of solid oak cabinet doors that were moments from being dumped in the landfill before being saved by Rebuilder’s Source.  We hope they will soon be able to resume their pick up service (someone stole their van if you can believe it!).

The next stop was Globus Cork where the owner Ken enthusiastically taught the group about the wonders of cork; where cork comes from, how he works with cork, and the many wonderful products that he makes from cork. The beautifully colored tiles dyed with vegetable based dyes and the laser cut geometric patterned tiles were certainly impressive but the jaws were all on the floor when Ken rolled out the cork yoga mat!  I think he he will getting at least 14 orders for yoga mats next week… did I mention there were 14 of us in the group?

From cork we moved to Decatur, on Decatur Ave. This six story building has 18 housing units, with a community room and communal outdoor space. As well as features like insulation, and low energy elevators that make the building very energy efficient.  The highlight for the group was the rainwater room.  At Green Decatur, rainwater is collected off the roof, run through filtration and drained into a 3,000 gallon cistern in the basement.  Every time a tenant flushes their toilet, this water is pumped up to serve this purpose – the group was given a close-up view of the pumping and filtration system in the basement that makes this happen. Needless to say, we were very impressed!

The final stop on the tour was the Bronx Library Center on East Kingsbridge Road. Jennifer from Dattner architects led us through the LEED certified library. From the auditorium with carbon dioxide sensors, to the glass curtain wall that reflects energy while letting in substantial daylight, the beautiful and impressive library was the perfect way to end our tour.

Many thanks to Jinwoo Kim for the tour photos!

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