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Wiser Living

Finding a natural solution

Green House Girl 6: Mission Not-So-Impossible

by Elizabeth Kuster

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Well, I just visited the Show House again, and so much is happening that I never got around to interviewing various Boerum Hill residents (as previously planned). Here’s a quick rundown of the progress that’s been made inside and out:

 The structure’s original brick shell has been completely rebuilt and repointed.         

 The façade has been covered with Styrofoam (yep, Styrofoam) panels, which are crucial to LEED certification because they will effectively seal the building and prevent heat from escaping.

 Welders are installing “relief angles” (a.k.a. long L-shaped metal brackets) into the structure's façade to support the limestone blocks that will encase much of the exterior.

 Masons are simultaneously laying a lot of the limestone blocks. FYI, they’re being fortified with wire “shock absorbers,” which construction manager Dave Moreno told me will help the building withstand an earthquake. (Little known fact: New York City has a strict Seismic Code that builders must follow. At least seven fault lines cross Manhattan, the most active being the one on 125th Street. The city’s last significant quake occurred in 1884, and experts say we’re past due for another. Eek!)

 Installation of the ventilation and A/C ducts is continuing. (Note: I can’t call them “HVAC” ducts because the “H” is going to be in the floor in the form of warmboard radiant flooring.)

 The garage on the Nevins-Street side has been lined with CMU walls; the reinforced-concrete cinderblocks will provide structural support for the extra-wide garage-door opening.

 Masons are squaring the main doorway of the Pacific Street residence and are just about ready to hang the wooden door.

The plumbing’s almost done; the plumber is just waiting for the designers, developers and architect to finalize bathtub, faucet and appliance choices.

All the studs and tracks that will support the interior walls are in.

 The second- and third-floor terraces are ready for pavers.

Personally, I have no idea how Dave stays on top of it all. But get this: When scheduling all of the myriad things that have to be done, he even takes into consideration the needs of the site’s neighbors. Because noise pollution is also an environmental issue, Dave has exchanged phone numbers with all of the tenants/owners of the adjoining buildings. He keeps them apprised as to any noisy work that might be on tap and encourages them to call him 24/7 if they have concerns. Is he a great guy, or what?

Anyway, it’s a lot to juggle. At one point during the top-to-bottom tour Dave gave me, his cell phone went off, and I laughed out loud when I heard the ringtone: It was the theme from Mission: Impossible. When I commented on it (I think I said something along the lines of, “You poor man!”), Dave laughed and told me that he actually really loves working on this project because every day is different.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that being the construction manager of the Show House has given Dave—calm, laid-back, soft-spoken Dave—an ulcer. He’s treating it with a tried-and-true South American remedy: celery water. (Recipe: Cut up an entire bunch of celery, boil it in filtered water, stir in some honey, and keep it in the fridge.) How’s that for green?