Arbor House: Urban Farming Takes Root in the Bronx

Market: Multifamily
Type: Affordable Housing
Location: Bronx, NY
Developer/Owner: Blue Sea Development
Project Services: Certification Services, Accessibility Services
Programs: NYSERDA Multifamily
Performance Program (MPP)
Building Size: 120,000 sf; 23 units
Certifications: LEED® for Homes™ Platinum;

Project Background:

Arbor House, a LEED Platinum multifamily building, opened its doors to new residents in February of 2013. A blend of residential and commercial space, the building consists of 123 affordable housing units as well as a 10,000 sf rooftop hydroponic greenhouse, currently leased to Sky Vegetables, a community supported agriculture program. Arbor House apartments will be available for those earning 60- percent of the Area Median Income (AMI).

Through participation in NYSERDA’s Multifamily Performance Program, the building will receive an ENERGY STAR label from the Environmental Protection Agency to denote its modeled 28- percent energy reduction from baseline, ASHRAE 90.1-2007.

Project Services:

Steven Winter Associates, Inc. provided Green Building Certification and Accessibility Consulting Services to the project.

Primary Energy Conservation Measures:

Energy efficient elements installed toward reaching this goal included two, 91-percent-efficient LAARS Rheos central boilers; NEMA premium motors; a tight and robust thermal envelope; ENERGY STAR appliances and lighting; well-sealed kitchen and bathroom exhaust ductwork; and in-unit nest thermostats. Combination T-slot/USB electrical sockets, which eliminate phantom load when cords are inserted but not connected to a device, were also installed. Additionally, four marathon ecopower micro-combined heat and power (CHP) plants were installed to produce heat and low-cost electricity onsite from cheap natural gas.

To achieve a LEED Platinum certification from the US Green Building Council, Blue Sea chose a site that was near job centers, across the street from Basil Behagen Playground, and a ten minute walk to the 2 and 5 subway lines. The most visible LEED credit involves the active design features, which promote exercise, spending time outdoors, and taking the stairs as opposed to an elevator. Further sustainability elements of the 120,000-sf building include preferred parking for low-emitting vehicles, a living wall of greenery at the front lobby entrance, and a building-wide no-smoking policy. Another impressive accomplishment of the project was the 98-percent construction waste diversion rate.