Located in an area ravaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, a new affordable housing development in Far Rockaway, Queens, has been built with resilient and energy-efficient features to ensure safety during and after major storms.
The 100-unit Beach Green Dunes, developed by The Bluestone Organization in partnership with Triangle Equities, is one of the largest multifamily Passive House buildings in the country certified by the Passive House Institute US. It also has achieved an Energy Star rating and participates in the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Multifamily Performance Program.
“We are continuously seeing the effects of climate change globally and feel as though it is imperative to do everything possible to reduce the carbon footprint of all structures we create,” says Jim Angley, senior development manager at The Bluestone Organization. “It doesn’t hurt that our efforts to reduce our energy consumption permit us to save money operationally. Those savings enable us to go back to some of our less efficient buildings put up in the past and make incremental improvements to enhance them in terms of green features.”
At Beach Green Dunes, the resiliency features provide added safety for residents during and after major storms, including protection from flooding and alternative power in case of system power outages. The energy-efficient features help reduce utility costs for residents and help create comfortable living environments.
The energy-efficient and resilient features include energy-efficient windows, solar panels, central air and heating, and individual Energy Recovery Ventilation systems in each unit for greater fresh air circulation. The exterior walls were constructed using insulated concrete form to create a comfortable and airtight structure that lowers heating and cooling costs. A bioswale, permeable asphalt for parking, and related elements reduce stormwater runoff. Low-flow faucets and toilets reduce overall building water usage.
A combined heat and power system that uses a natural gas-fueled engine generates electricity that is distributed throughout the building’s common areas. The heat that is produced by generating the electricity is then captured and reused to heat the building’s water heaters and boilers.
The development also is providing critical mixed-income housing for the workforce.
“There is significant need for affordable housing in the Rockaways, demonstrated by the large number of applicants we received for the units,” says Angley. “We received 50,220 applications for 100 units.”
Beach Green Dunes, which is comprised of studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, includes 24 units for households earning 50% of the area median income (AMI), 26 units for households at 60% of the AMI, and 50 units for households earning up to 90% of the AMI. Six of the units are fully adapted and set aside for residents with mobility impairments, and three are set aside for residents with hearing and/or vision impairments.
The development, which received its final certificate of occupancy in November, is expected to be fully leased by the end of February.
Amenities include a Safe Lobby security system, a fitness center, an outdoor terrace with a green roof and views of the ocean, on-site laundry facilities, and bike storage.
The $32.2 million development received local support, with the city contributing the land for $1. New York City Housing Development Corp. provided tax-exempt bonds toward construction financing and subsidy toward permanent financing from its corporate reserves. New York City Housing Preservation and Development provided city capital in permanent financing as well as an allocation of low-income housing tax credits. In addition, the project received state housing tax credits from New York State Homes and Community Renewal and funds from NYSERDA. The tax credit equity investor was Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Additional project partners include architect Curtis + Ginsberg Architects; Global Design Strategies LLC, who designed the exterior envelope of the building including the façades and other key material selections; and Local Office Landscape Architecture, who designed the various landscaping features including the bioswale and site drainage. Banta Homes Corp. was the general contractor, and NHE Management Assoc. serves as the property manager; both are affiliates of The Bluestone Organization.