Water Case Study

Jonathan Rose’s ‘Tapestry’ LEED Gold project demonstrates the huge benefits of conservation.

Water conservation measures need not be complicated to yield great results. Jonathan Rose Companies, which focuses on developing and investing in transit-oriented and environmentally responsible real estate, employs a two-pronged water-efficiency approach in its new multifamily developments: installing green water fixtures and toilets in the entire development and utilizing rainwater harvesting.

Such environmentally conscious measures are sufficient to help earn Gold LEED certification for Jonathan Rose Cos.’ Tapestry, the first apartment development in East Harlem, N.Y. to receive the designation. The $65.8 million, 185-unit, mixed-income apartment property also meets the green criteria established by NYSERDA Multifamily Performance Program and Enterprise Green Communities Guidelines for environmental responsibility.

Tapestry is a part of the 125th Street River to River Rezoning, a multi-city agency rezoning effort to infuse the area with cultural, retail, entertainment and affordable housing. The architect is MHG Architect PC, and the consulting architect is Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects LLP.

Funding for the property includes the four-percent Low Income Housing Tax Credit and tax exempt bonds through the New York City Housing Development Corp. (HDC).

The first step in a new multifamily development is to make sure all water fixtures and toilets in apartments are as water efficient as possible within the given budget, explains Paul Freitag, managing director of Real Estate Development. As Freitag suggests, there is no longer any reason not to select low-flow and other types of water-efficient installations in all new construction. “The good news is that low flow faucets, shower heads and toilets are all reasonably priced today, are operationally functional and accepted by customers,” Freitag points out.

Dual-flush water closets from Crane Plumbing (EcoMiser 38400) were specified in Tapestry’s LEED submittal. These units feature a flush rate of 1.6gpf and 1.1gpf. Also specified for all units were American Standard lavatories (Model 2175.502) with a flow rate of 0.5gpf; American Standard tub and shower faucets (Model T675.508.002) featuring a flow rate of 1.5gpf; and American Standard lower-flow kitchen sink single handle faucets (Reliant No. 4205.00) that boast a flow rate of 1.5gpf.

The water use based on reduced-flow fixtures was calculated to be 1,909,098 gallons per year, compared to 3,138,872 gallons a year if the building was just code compliant. The water savings is 39.2 percent for the 219,312 square-foot property.

Jonathan Rose Companies also favors harvesting rainwater as a very effective mode of water conservation in its new developments. The company employs an approach that represents an enhanced water conservation strategy that, at the same time, does not entail measures that would dramatically increase implementation costs. This strategy consists of using the rainwater collected for three functions: irrigating the green roofs, cooling the air-conditioning towers and cleaning property sidewalks.

Since the rain water collected will be put in service for these purposes, the required water treatment is relatively minimal and involves screening the rain water to remove particulates and ultraviolet light treatment. The water is not directed to flushing toilets, for example, as such use would require treating the water to a higher level and more extensive plumbing, notes Freitag. “However, we applaud developers who [use rainwater for flushing toilets],” he adds.

Tapestry’s 5,000-square-foot green roof and landscaped terrace is designed to reduce the urban heat island effect and amount of water runoff into the sewer system. Properties in New York City are especially suited to employ rainwater collection systems because of the abundant rainfall in the region. Jonathan Rose Cos. also tends to install rain collection in projects that feature green roofs in order to neutralize the additional water needs generated by the roofs.

The volume of the rainwater recovery tank at Tapestry is 3,400 gallons. The rainwater needs of the rooftop garden and site cleaning were
determined to be about 677,077 gallons. And the company calculated the cooling tower to require about 1,200,000 gallons of water annually (about 1,100 gallons are consumed per hour during peak demand). Based on an average annual rainfall of 44 inches and the volume of the collection tank, Jonathan Rose Companies calculated the potential water saved to be 228,758 gallons. Using 2009 water rates, this translates to $875 in cost reduction annually.

Other innovative green features of the property include a high-performance building envelope, high-efficiency mechanical systems, resident controlled high-efficiency individual heating and cooling units; individual electricity meters to promote resident awareness of energy consumption; and kitchens with bamboo cabinetry, recycled content tiling and Energy Star appliances.

Experts tend to agree that water rates are going to trend up all across the U.S. Predicts Freitag, “Companies should be incentivized to take action today because very shortly, there will be a big concern [with water costs and availability].”