Green Grows in Brooklyn: Part VIII

The Natural Home Show House inspires the next generation of green builders.

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Artistic rendering of the Natural Home Show House in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

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When we last checked in on the Natural Home Show House in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill, crews were installing the radiant flooring and reinforcing the structure to prepare to pour concrete. The 1920s building, which is undergoing an extensive remodel, is now almost fully enclosed by DensGlass Gold paperless gypsum sheathing—chosen for its high recycled content and because it’s noncombustible as well as mold- and weather-resistant.

Roofers are preparing to pour concrete that contains a high percentage of fly ash, a byproduct from coal-fired power plants. Using fly ash reduces the need for cement production—a major source of greenhouse gas.

Learning Lab: Instructors at New York’s Parsons School of Design are using the Show House to teach architecture and interior design students about sustainability. In Nadia Elrokhsy’s Introduction to Sustainability and Environmental Design course, students are re-examining the townhouses’ design, paying particular attention to using fabric for sound attenuation.

Design Studio 3 instructor Aki Ishida challenged her students to come up with design concepts for the building using eco-friendly materials and cutting-edge green techniques.

Ishida’s students are finding cutting-edge, green products that are unfamiliar to many Americans. Their midterm projects incorporated an array of healthy furnishings and materials, among them 3form’s nontoxic ecoresin (which has a high recycled content and is 40 times stronger than glass), Oporto plank cork flooring, Plyboo (plywood made of rapidly renewable bamboo), wheatboard (made of annually renewable waste straw with low-VOC, formaldehyde-free adhesive), recycled polyester and American Clay earth plaster (breathable and dust-proof).

Creativity Blooms: One student’s design involved sticking illuminated salt pyramids into a wall to de-ionize the surrounding space. Other students created reclaimed-chopstick lamps, plastic coffee-cup-lid chandeliers and recycled-plastic lumber posts made from old milk jugs.

Developers: R&E Brooklyn, Green Depot

Builder: GreenStreet Construction