Passive Houses Around the World

It’s been nearly a year since the launch of my blog and my first article about the Passive House/Passivhaus building standard, which makes it a good time to take a look at some notable projects around the world. In review, the concept of the Passivhaus (German) was born in 1988 during a conversation between two researchers, Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist. They discussed the ways in which new technology and design which worked in concert with their environment could be used to drastically reduce energy consumption and minimize a structure’s carbon footprint. While […]

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Tall Wood: Mass Timber Movement Grows In NYC

Rendering courtesy of SHoP In recent years, a quiet revolution has been underway: the revolution of mass timber. Several visionary architectural firms and developers are exploring “tall wood” as a viable alternative building material to steel and concrete. While a number of mass timber projects have been completed around the world (none of which have been eaten by termites), America’s new wooden warriors have been greeted with quite a bit of skepticism here in the U.S. Most people’s first thought is probably the risk of fire; after all, wood has […]

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Top 10 New Developments in Miami for 2015

Over the past few years Miami has seen a building boom with luxury condos rising above the scenic coastal views. Having recently returned from a week in Miami for Art Basel, I thought it appropriate to spotlight some of the most buzz worthy projects down south, where a growing number of clients and friends have invested or are looking to invest. Pairing the best of urban living with beach side views and spacious accommodations, these ten developments show the height of what 2015 brought to the Miami skyline. Let me know if […]

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Blue Sea Development, Creating Sustainable Affordable Housing in the South Bronx

My recent article about the developments popping up in the Bronx elicited several emails expressing surprise that this recently sleepy neighborhood is becoming a burgeoning hipster scene. I thought it appropriate to call attention to a less flashy but highly admirable development company in the area, Blue Sea Development. Many New Yorkers have grown accustomed to feeling at odds with the spaces they inhabit. This is perhaps most acutely true in the city’s affordable housing sector, where too often, “affordable housing” has meant a drab, cramped, insensitively designed box that is far […]

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Spotlight on Make It Right: An Organization Bringing Sustainable Homes to Low-Income Families

August 29, 2015 marked the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a storm that caused severe destruction along the Gulf Coast and destroyed 5,363 homes in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward alone. Make It Right, an organization founded by Brad Pitt in 2007, is still working in the Lower 9th Ward to bring families back home. Since 2012 I have been a supporter of Make it Right and, as some of you consider which organizations to support during the holiday season and in the coming year, I wanted to give you background […]

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12th International Passive House Days

Tomorrow kicks off the 12th International Passive House Days, a three day Open House tour of Passive Houses in the NYC region. The purpose of the open houses is for attendees to see firsthand the benefits of passive houses while visiting various homes that have been built or retrofitted to Passive House standards. The below information is direct from the New York Passive House website. Click on the stars to see open house times and check out this Passive House flip book which will be given out at the open houses. Let me […]

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Sustainable Living : 8 New York City Farms

Many people are surprised to learn that there are several working farms within NYC. It’s hard to imagine there’s space in this densely-populated city for fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and even livestock. Standards for local produce are quickly changing, as we no longer have to rely on farms upstate or on Long Island for fresh fruits and vegetables. Here’s a look at NYC’s farms and what they’re growing: Red Hook Community Farm Red Hook, Brooklyn Red Hook Community Farm was established in 2001 at the site of a former concrete […]

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10 Types of Green Building Certifications

While it is certainly possible for a building to be “green” without any formal certification, many developers and property owners choose to seek certification in order to hold themselves accountable and maintain credibility with the public. Now that there are several different options for certification, this can get confusing for prospective homeowners who want to make an eco-friendly purchase. Here’s a breakdown of all the different green building certifications you’re likely to see on NYC buildings: Image courtesy of passiv.de Passivhaus / Passive House My favorite – and what I’ve written […]

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The Bridges of Manhattan County (and Beyond)

  New York City is home to more than 50 bridges – though we seldom think about them, they really are the lifeline of the city. King’s Bridge, New York’s first crossing, was built in 1693, over Spuyten Duyvil Creek between Manhattan and the Bronx. It was demolished in 1917, so High Bridge, built in 1848, is the longest-standing bridge in New York. Today, NYC bridges carry all types of traffic, including vehicular, bicycle, pedestrian, and subway traffic. Here are some profiles of the most interesting NYC’s bridges, along with a list of all […]

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Obama Announces Passive House Track with NY State Homes and Community Renewal

Several weeks ago, President Obama announced a plan to help bring renewable energy and energy efficiency to households across the US, including guaranteeing $1 billion in loans to individuals for green-energy projects. Among the initiatives announced in Obama’s new plan is the establishment of a Passive House track with New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) to provide loans to developers that will help accelerate the trend toward construction of Passive House-certified multifamily buildings in the city. As I’ve written about previously, Passive House is an international building standard […]

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Q&A with Carlos Zapata, World Renowned Architectural Designer

Carlos Zapata is an architectural designer who grew up in Ecuador, received his Bachelor and Master of Architecture degrees in New York, and has designed innovative buildings all over the world. He recently won one of the 50 most innovative skyscrapers award from the Council on Tall Buildings for his work on the Bitexco Financial tower in Ho Chi Minh City, also named one of the 50 most iconic skyscrapers in the world by CNN Go. I spent years with Carlos working on getting Landmarks approval for what will one day […]

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Tadao Ando’s Condos at 152 Elizabeth Street

Sales have launched for two of the units at 152 Elizabeth Street, the “glass jewel box suspended in poured-in-place concrete” at the corner of Elizabeth and Delancey. The building was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, and is Ando’s first standalone project in New York City. The exterior of 152 Elizabeth will feature concrete, galvanized steel, and glass – all materials Ando is known for working with. The entrance along Elizabeth Street will have a garden wall planted with vines, and residents will walk through a vestibule lined with […]

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Sustainable Farming for Veterans on the Heroic Food Farm in Claverack, NY

Up in the Hudson River Valley, 20 tranquil acres of farmland are about to take the shape of a military training ground—to teach veterans about sustainable farming and food entrepreneurship. This program, called Heroic Food Farm, has two aims: to help veterans and to help address the crisis in US farming. According to the US Labor Department, the unemployment rate for soldiers who have served since 2001 is more than 7 percent. As recently reported in the Wall Street Journal, agricultural production in the US decreases by roughly 9.5 percent […]

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