Green Grows in Brooklyn: Part VII

The Natural Home Show House in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill shows off sustainable design.

| January/February 2008

It’s been a busy few months at the Natural Home Show House in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill. In October, site developers Rolf Grimsted and Emily Fisher held an open house, halting construction for a week to transform the space into a touch-and-feel museum. More than 500 people—ranging from curious neighbors to Parsons School of Design students—saw for themselves what green building materials such as soy-based insulation and Warmboard radiant subflooring really look like.

Taking shape: After the open house, construction went back to full-steam-ahead mode. The plumber laid down the stormdrainage lines and moved on to the sanitary drainage systems (translation: toilets). Much of the radiant flooring was installed, and thestructure was reinforced in preparation for laying the concrete. (Because construction is slated to continue throughout the winter, there was a major push to get the site fully enclosed before bitter weather set in.) Meanwhile, architect Tony Daniels reviewed suppliers’ shop drawings for a number of items that will be on the building’s exterior, including roof drains, sealants and slate pavers. He also continued to develop the site’s energy model to ensure that the renovated 1920s brownstone will meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

Light and air: “Tony did exhaustive energy research,” says Green Depot founder Sarah Beatty, whose company will provide finish materials for the home. Among other things, Daniels conducted seasonal light and shade studies of the entire building, inside and out, to gauge optimal door and window placement. As a result of his research, he changed the positioning of certain doors and windows to achieve consistent light and air flow. (Balanced, even light is healthier and more energy efficient than having big contrasts of sun and shadow.) Daniels also enlarged the space between the original 1920s brick facade and what will soon be the outer walls of the two townhouses, so the site will have a built-in breezeway. In addition to enhancing air flow, it will provide a sound buffer and give the homeowners increased privacy.

Constant change: Watch as the former pharmacy and Laundromat transforms into two state-of-the-art green townhouses.

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