"Green" has been a buzzword in condo development for years, but we're not sure it's always meaningful for apartment buyers. What does it offer you (besides the comfort in knowing you've put your money where your environmental concerns are)?
This past weekend, as part of Open House NY, we had the chance to tour the pun-ily named Bright N' Green, a new building in Brighton Beach that's packed with just about every eco-friendly innovation and gimmick currently on the market. Its six condos are made up of three studios, two one-bedrooms and a two-bedroom spread over four floors, priced from $349,000 to $899,000. Designed by architect Robert Scarano (who was famously sanctioned by the city for building bigger than zoning rules allowed), the development is scheduled to be completed at the end of this month.
We toured the largest and priciest unit—a two-bedroom, two-bathroom duplex that, at a mere 958 square feet, was not the roomiest of dwellings—to suss out what it might be like to live in a sustainable place like this one. Read on to see our observations, and let us know in the comments if you think it's worth it.
The kitchen, which comes with a dishwasher that can do half-loads for when you only have a few dishes to wash, is finished with countertops made of recycled glass bottles. (Up close, you can see the flecks of glass; the surface doesn't look much different from a patterned quartz or other stone.)
The place has an open plan living room and kitchen on the first floor, as well as a bedroom and bathroom, with a floating staircase leading up to a windowed loft area and the second bedroom and bathroom. It also comes with a 371-square-foot terrace.
The windows are triple-glazed solar thermal treated glass filled with Krypton, a noble gas, all of which helps keep out the cold and the noise from the elevated subway tracks a block away. (Note the three flames reflected in the pane.) Behind, you can see the terrace.
On the second floor, you'll find a lofted area that can be used as a sleeping loft or office. The exposed i-beams add to the industrial look of the place.
Both bedrooms are the same size, or 10'3" by 10'11", and each comes with a closet. The oak floors throughout are made of reclaimed shipping containers.
The bathrooms have dual flush, low-flow toilets. The water filtration systems for the building as a whole and in individual units promise to deliver better-than-bottled-water from the taps, giving you "softer skin and hair." Not a bad apartment perk.
The small lobby is in keeping with the no-frills building: you won't find a gym or children's playroom, but there are bike hooks behind the door on the right. A wedge of a roofdeck has a hot tub and herb garden and, soon, a barbecue.
Though Bright N' Green is an elevator building, the layout of the lobby area is set up to encourage the use of stairs. "Keeping people mobile is part of the mission," says a building rep. Soon to come: stair coverings made out of recycled sneaker treads.
The elevators power themselves, recycling the energy gathered from the descent to power the ascent. Unfortunately, it was locked during our tour, so we didn't have a chance to compare the apparatus to a regular old elevator. Above, the mechanics inside the elevator shaft.
Behind a door in the lobby, you'll find a hatch that leads down to the basement. An earthy smell wafts out of the room, which stores the composting systems.
This vat is full of worms hard at work turning the, ahem, refuse from the toilets into material for nourishing the building's plants. Sewage from the condos is piped into this metal tank, which is stored in a low little room in the basement accessible by a yellow ladder. Technically, the building can operate off the city sewage system (though legally, Bright N' Green has to remain hooked into it).
The nickel ion batteries, above, ensure that the building will still have power even in the event of a Hurricane Sandy-like storm. Plus, no gas generators means less stress on the environment.
The water systems capture 50,000 gallons of rainwater annually and use it to flush the toilets and water the plants. The developers also tout the fresh air purification and distribution system--made up of 150-foot long geothermal tubes below the structure that naturally heats and cools the air--as one of the building's most significant features. A separate part of the system supplies fresh air to bedrooms and living rooms and scrubs the air in the kitchens and bathrooms. As the rep notes, you could smoke a cigarette inside and an hour later never smell a thing.
Scarano chose the site at 67 Brighton 1st Lane, a former brownfield and auto racetrack, for its proximity to the subway, the beach and plenty of stores that sell food in bulk. Healthy living is encouraged.
The solar panels on the roof are one of the ways the building creates its own power. (This is a view from underneath the panels.) The plan is also to install wind turbines. Since Bright N' Green is effectively off the grid, residents don't pay any energy bills, and there's no carbon footprint. You can monitor energy production in real-time online.
At $975,000, this apartment is pricier than what's on offer in Brighton Beach, particularly since the neighborhood doesn't have a lot of other new condos being built. On average, condos sold for $725,000 in the last 90 days, according to StreetEasy. The building is a block from the B/Q subway, which is convenient, but it's a roughly 40-minute ride to Midtown. Not so convenient.