- Published: July 17, 2012
- Written by Amanda H. Miller
A new building used solar to defy the odds and become the first building in New York City to run entirely on energy it produces.
Voltaic Solaire, a green developer in New York, will unveil its Delta building Wednesday to show the world it can be done.
“We want people to know this can be done in a harsh urban environment like New York City and on a building that’s not perfectly oriented,” said Voltaic Solaire CFO Ron Faia.
The building owner purchased the run-down dilapidated building 10 to 12 years ago, Faia said.
“And the timing just wasn’t right until now,” he said.
The idea was always to rebuild it green.
Faia said they explored using Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, but decided it was too cumbersome and costly and opted to use best practices instead.
They recycled every stick of wood they could salvage and Faia said sorting the waste didn’t cost much more than hauling it to the landfill, but saved on other supply expenses.
That was just the beginning of the building’s ultra-small carbon footprint.
“The goal was always to get it as efficient as we could,” Faia said. “I don’t think we thought it could be zero from the beginning. But we got there.”
There was a lot of math and recalculating involved.
An awning covered with solar photovoltaic panels serves a dual purpose. It produces electricity for the building and shields the roof from the sun.
Conservation and smart engineering played as large a role in the building’s net-zero status as the energy generation element, Faia said.
The solar thermal tubes preheat the water before it flows with gravity to point-of-use heaters that take it the next few degrees. That eliminates the need for a large boiler in the basement and extensive pumps to get water from the ground level to the fifth floor.
The building, which is about 3,000-square feet with about 450 square feet on each floor, will be a bed and breakfast. The idea is to expose as many people as possible to what can be done.
“We want to get the message out that things can be done in an urban environment and they can be done relatively easily,” Faia said.