Over the last decade, the most widely recognized seal of approval for green buildings among New York City buyers has been LEED, a label that stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Many property developers strive for LEED certification to appeal to residents with an image of eco-friendliness, as well as to charge premium prices and earn tax credits. Building features like LED lights, solar shades, recycled cabinets and flooring, rainwater irrigation systems, solar thermal heat tubes and green roofs are becoming more common. But some builders want to raise the bar higher, arguing that although LEED — ranked from certified, silver and gold to the most eco-friendly platinum — may be a good start, truly sustainable buildings should be the goal.
“We made a commitment almost seven years ago to start working on innovative construction and making sustainable buildings, so that it becomes the default way to build,” said Michael Namer, the chief executive of Alfa Development, which is halfway through developing its “Green Collection,” four condominium buildings seeking LEED gold certification that also include green elements not required by LEED.
Alfa’s first condominium, Village Green, which was developed in 2008, achieved LEED gold with features like Energy Star appliances, low-water-flow fixtures, recycled content, low-emission paints and sealants, and motion sensors controlling lighting in common areas.
Its second building, Chelsea Green, will have an Aaonaire energy-recovery system, a ventilator that uses the exhaust from the building to heat or cool the incoming fresh air, depending on the season.