SPECIAL REPORT: GreenBuildingsNY Keynote Speaker Encourages Vertical, Dense Development

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorNew York–“Designing for a Sustainable Future” was the theme of the keynote presentation at GreenBuildingsNY, held at New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center from June 17-18. The keynote speaker, Bruce Fowle (pictured), senior partner at New York-based FXFowle Architects, discussed the advantages that high-density, urban developments have over those sprawled throughout the suburbs. “Vertical, high-density development is the greenest we can do,” Fowle stated, pointing to New York as a prime example of a city that utilizes this design principle on a grand scale.Currently in New York City, there are over 20 LEED-Certified buildings and over 200 buildings registered as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). “It is a trend that everyone should be looking at and considering,” Fowle said. Additionally, he encouraged any builder in attendance who is not currently LEED-accredited to become so. A LEED-AP himself, Fowle discussed one of his projects, The Helena, a 600-apartment building and the first non-mandated LEED Gold building in New York, which opened in 2006. With this and many of his current projects, Fowle said, “Not only are we reducing the heat island effect, but we are creating a lifestyle to attract people to high-density living.” To demonstrate the benefits of a LEED building over a non-LEED development, Fowle noted that rental rates, occupancy rates and sale prices are–on a national scale–higher in LEED buildings. “You are creating value when you do a LEED-rated building,” he said. Furthermore, Fowle noted that if the right architects and engineers are used and smart design is implemented, buildings should not accrue additional costs simply by being LEED-rated.On a local level, Fowle explained New York’s green initiatives, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC that includes strategies to avoid sprawl and provide clean power, efficient buildings and sustainable transportation. By 2050, the city expects to attract 900,000 new residents.Wrapping up his presentation, Fowle noted a number of steps that builders can take on an individual basis in order to encourage the expansion of green building. These include promoting political will, supporting PlaNYC, committing to a higher standard of practice, being guided by LEED—and becoming accredited—and leading by example by adopting a green lifestyle. Additionally, Fowle advised his audience to be wary of technology. “Challenge new technology that increases the demand on resources,” he said.