Home Green Home: Energy Efficiency Accentuates Harlem Developer's Housing Designs
Hocker, Cliff, Black Enterprise
Consumers finally got the energy wake-up call last fall: higher home heating bills would burn through family budgets this winter. While energy efficiency is just beginning to dawn on most homeowners, the idea has long inspired Carlton Brown, co-owner and chief operating officer of the real estate development company Full Spectrum of New York L.L.C.
Harlem-based Full Spectrum's showplace is a 220,000-square-foot, $40 million high-performance building at 1400 Fifth Ave. Imagine 129 condominiums where geothermal heat pumps ensure puny winter utility bills, pure air invigorates breathing, and daylight floods through large windows. Add broadband, wireless courtyard connectivity, and network-controllable washing machines. Last winter, monthly condo heating bills were typically $75.
Demand for buildings that use less fuel depends on who's buying, Brown says. Institutional investors have for years recognized that the lower operating expenses of energy-efficient real estate mean higher profitability. "But when it comes to regular home buyers, here is where there's an education curve going on. It's starting to grow in demand," says Brown. Today's lesson: "The cost of energy is never going to go down. Over the last 20 years, it's always spiking up, growing faster than income. It is increasingly becoming a disproportionate share of people's disposable income," Brown says.
Smart features can accentuate a building's energy efficiency. At the building, digital submetering of electricity allows residents to view the quantity and cost of the current consumed by individual appliances online. Multifamily buildings with digital submetering are able to collectively get a lower bulk electric rate while billing individual units for their usage.
The building weaves several threads of innovation: building materials made of 70% recycled content, a high-tech air filtration system, and use of products that don't emit toxic fumes. …