06
May
08

Dinkins Gardens: Innovative Ventilation Only One of Many Features

Harlem Overlook

Recently, Anuradha Kher reported in Multi-Housing News on the completion of an ambitious project, an 85-unit apartment complex designed for both sustainability and affordability. Located in Harlem, David & Joyce Dinkins Gardens allots nearly one-third of its apartments to young people who have graduated out of foster care situations, with the remainder of the units meant for residents who make less than the area’s median income. (Incidentally, since an illustration of Dinkins Gardens was not available, the photo above is one titled “Harlem Overlook.”)

Designed by Dattner Architects, the building was created with the reduction of both energy demands and water use in mind. The mechanical systems are energy-efficient, and each apartment has its own electric meter, so tenants can experience the satisfaction of seeing a cause-and-effect relationship between their good conservation habits and their electric bills. There is a modular green roof system. Rainwater is harvested from the roof, stored in tanks, and used for the community garden. The roof terrace and backyard garden are important components in the quality-of-life goals the designers aimed for.

During construction, non-toxic paints and sealants were used as much as possible, and many of the materials used were recycled or locally made. As an energy-saving bonus, Dinkins Gardens lies nearby to mass transit. Solar shading, high-performance insulation, and operable windows are all part of the HVAC plan, and in fact the most innovative thing about the project seems to be the individually ventilated apartments, as described by Kher:

Fresh air is drawn into each apartment through window “trickle vents” and expelled horizontally at the façade through voids in the concrete plank. Instead of using vertical ducts that can allow smoke or smells to be transferred between apartments, each apartment is individually ventilated, resulting in better indoor air quality.

The project was developed by Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement (HCCI) a non-profit interfaith group comprising more than 90 congregations, which owns and manages the building. In keeping with the organization’s mission, Dinkins Gardens also contains space for the Construction Trades Academy, HCCI’s job training and job placement program specializing in access to construction industry careers.

The co-developer is Jonathan Rose Companies, which incidentally produces a marvelous newsletter that is not just a PR vehicle, but contains many articles with substance. Kher quotes Jonathan Rose:

“Dinkins Gardens is the new model for affordable housing. Green projects like these are tremendous investments in the future of the community. By integrating social services, job training, affordable housing and green design, we’re modeling what the future of Harlem and New York City – in fact, cities nationwide – can be….Green building is particularly important for affordable housing because it protects residents from rising energy costs and promotes good health.”

Dinkins Gardens is not the only such Harlem project to reach completion in April. The Kalahari is a mixed-income development of 249 units, built to LEED Certification standards. A quarter of its energy needs will be supplied by solar and wind sources.

New York City has been making sustainability news lately. The executive director of the U.S. Green Building Council, New York chapter, announced his picks for ten green places in the metropolis, including the Conde Nast Building, the Schermerhorn Building, General Theological Seminary, the Visitor Center at Queens Botanical Garden, and the offices of the Natural Resource Defense Council. In lower Manhattan, Battery Park City boasts four LEED-certified buildings.

The venerable YMCA Young Men’s Institute, which opened in 1885 and later became a loft co-op, will soon house a 3,000-square-foot Green Depot showroom.

Now that New York City has made such an excellent start, is there any limit to how green it can become?

SOURCE: ” $19.5M Affordable, Green Project Opens in New York City” 4/01/08
photo courtesy of striatic , used under this Creative Commons license

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