Building Greener and Cheaper Than LEED

While many argue over the costs and benefits of requiring LEED-certification, some affordable housing developers have shown that building green doesn't require following the program's recommendations.

"[Mary Spink, executive director of the Lower East Side People's Mutual Housing Association,] and her longtime architect Chris Benedict and mechanical engineer Henry Gifford are among the few who have figured out how to cut energy costs dramatically while using the same old construction technology everyone else does. They fork over a little extra for essentials like cellulose insulation and a special glazing on the windows that helps reflect heat in summer and retain it in winter. But most of what they do has nothing to do with special gadgets. A specially designed gas boiler is installed on the roof instead of in the basement; weep-holes in the brick exterior allow excess moisture to escape from the building's walls where mold might otherwise grow; and a rooftop garden further insulates the building and strengthens the roof."

"Few cutting-edge materials, and yet, according to Spink and a cadre of third-party observers such as Green Home NYC, the result is a building that costs no more than standard construction but uses only one-sixth the energy. This might be an environmentally positive result by most standards, but Spink's buildings aren't LEED-certified and she doesn't get those prized green tax credits as a result."

Full Story: LEED-ing By Example: Green Building Grows Up


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