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NEW YORK CITY-The Albanese Organization’s 35-story Visionaire condominium has received LEED Platinum certification from the US Green Building Council, the developer announced Tuesday. It’s reportedly the only residential condo on the East Coast to achieve USGBC’s highest rating.

Located in Battery Park City near the southern tip of Manhattan, the Visionaire joins two other green residential towers Albanese has developed in the community: the Solaire, reportedly the nation’s first green multifamily building when it was certified by USGBC in 2003; and the Verdesian, reportedly the nation’s first LEED Platinum rental. In a release, James Gill, chairman of the Battery Park City Authority, says the developer “has exceeded expectations and set a new standard for green development in Battery Park City, New York and the entire country.”

Among other attributes, the Visionaire has been designed to achieve energy savings of more than 40% and it received all 10 of the energy LEED optimization credits available. Marty Dettling, VP at the Albanese Organization, tells GlobeSt.com that accruing enough credits for LEED Platinum “sets the bar very high in all of the areas: water efficiency, energy efficiency and resource conservation, as well as requiring us to go over and above.”

The development team sought from the outset to achieve LEED Platinum, says Dettling. “I would say that committing to that goal early on was the most critical factor in achieving it,” he says. “So our design was guided by the need to meet that commitment.”

For example, one measure undertaken to accrue energy conservation points was a heart-recovery system. “We supply fresh air to each of the residences,” Dettling says. “To help defray the additional energy consumption that this entails, we installed energy-recovery equipment, so that during the winter, we’re able to pre-heat the incoming air with heat that’s being exhausted from the building. And then the opposite is true for the summer; we pre-cool the incoming air.”

Thanks to several years’ experience with green residential, the Albanese Organization and its design partners find understanding sustainable concepts easier now than it was seven years ago. Implementing these ideas, though, “still requires a lot of work,” says Dettling. “It’s work we like to do, because when you start looking at these building systems and how to improve them in a common-sense way, aside from the green aspects you’re just learning how to make a building operate better.”

The design and construction sector’s learning curve with green has been along the lines that Dettling foresaw several years ago, he says. “At first we had people who were non-believers, or material suppliers and contractors who were saying it can’t be done. Then they became people who saw that it could be done, and then they became people who call themselves experts now, and rightly so.”

It’s also been a learning curve for would-be residents at Albanese’s green residential projects. “From the time we opened the Solaire, part of the plan was to educate the end user as to how the systems properly function and the whole idea behind green building systems, so that they could integrate this properly into the lifestyle they were seeking,” says Dettling. “It doesn’t do any good to put in a programmable thermostat and have someone who doesn’t know how to operate it.”

Along with the energy recovery system, additional sustainable elements at the Visionaire include a rooftop garden that harvests rainwater for irrigation of the garden; building-integrated solar panels that harvest a portion of the building’s electric load; and a central heating and cooling system powered by natural gas, which contributes to a substantially lower peak electric grid demand. Each of the tower’s 247 residential units features wood flooring harvested in conformance with Forest Stewardship Council certified standards, renewable bamboo cabinetry and Energy Star appliances. Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects–as were the Solaire and Verdesian–the development was completed in fall 2008.

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