Launch Slideshow

LEED-Platinum in the Bronx

New co-op building offers affordable, healthy, sustainable living.

LEED-Platinum in the Bronx

New co-op building offers affordable, healthy, sustainable living.

  • http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/exterior_tcm48-875854.jpg

    true

    600

    Courtesy Blue Sea Development

    The eight-story Melody rose from a lot vacant since the 1970s, when many South Bronx properties fell into disrepair and were demolished. Developer Les Bluestone says it took more than three months to remediate the site and then another three months excavating 13 feet deep through mostly solid rock. 96% of waste was diverted during construction.

  • http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/gym2_tcm48-875917.jpg

    true

    600

    Courtesy Blue Sea Development

    The Melody offers many opportunities for physical activity including a large state-of-the-art gym that is free for residents.

  • http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/corridor_tcm48-875899.jpg

    true

    600

    Courtesy Blue Sea Development

    The air in the corridors and lobby is pressurized via a rooftop makeup air system to avoid the thermal stack effect common in many multifamily buildings. It is also filtered to MERV-8.

  • http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/overall2_tcm48-875882.jpg

    true

    600

    Courtesy Blue Sea Development

    Interior walls contain R-15 Knauf recycled fiberglass insulation. Outside, masonry cavity walls and precast concrete plank construction allowed for about 2¼ inches of Dow rigid XPS foam. The building achieved a HERS rating of 41.

  • http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/patios_tcm48-875845.jpg

    true

    600

    Courtesy Blue Sea Development

    Balconies will provide occupants with fresh air and sunshine in a part of New York City known for an exceptionally high rate of asthma, especially among children.

  • http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/overallinterior_tcm48-875855.jpg

    true

    600

    Courtesy Blue Sea Development

    Energy Star appliances, Moen faucets with 1-gpm aerators, and tile flooring are some of the sustainable products in the Melody’s bright and open kitchens.

  • http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/bath_tcm48-875881.jpg

    true

    600

    Courtesy Blue Sea Development

    The Melody’s 125 bathrooms utilize retrofitted water-conserving faucets and showerheads that will save thousands of gallons of water a year.

  • http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/laundry_tcm48-875872.jpg

    true

    600

    Blue Sea Development

    In-unit washers and dryers will make life easier for families.

  • http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/playground_tcm48-875827.jpg

    true

    600

    Courtesy Blue Sea Development

    Play areas are designed to keep the building’s youngest residents happy and active.

  • http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/stair-3_tcm48-875818.jpg

    true

    600

    Courtesy Blue Sea Development

    The bright stairwells feature doors made of fire-rated glass instead of steel to let in light and entice occupants to forgo the elevator.

  • http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/cutout2_tcm48-875828.jpg

    true

    600

    Courtesy Blue Sea Development

    Artwork in and around the building recalls the neighborhood’s musical heyday, when cafes and clubs lined nearby streets and featured jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie.

  • http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/balcony_tcm48-875900.jpg

    true

    600

    Courtesy Blue Sea Development

    A rooftop patio will provide tenants with a place to socialize and relax outdoors.

In a New York City neighborhood known for an exceptionally high rate of asthma due in part to poor indoor air quality, a new multifamily development will help its low-income residents breathe easier.

The Melody, a 63-unit LEED-Platinum co-operative housing complex in the South Bronx, will help residents enjoy healthier lives while providing them with an energy-efficient, affordable place to call home. The eight-story building offers many ways for tenants to stay fit, including an on-site gym, an outdoor fitness circuit, children’s play areas, and indoor storage for bikes. In addition, the homeowner’s manual directs tenants to the neighborhood’s plentiful bike trails, community gardens, and parks. The fitness-oriented measures were substantial enough to earn the project a LEED Innovation point for Active Design, a first for a multifamily project. The Melody was verified by consulting firm Steven Winter Associates.

But the developers didn’t stop with the obvious enticements for physical activity. They implemented suggestions from New York City’s new Active Design Guidelines to identify discreet ways of promoting physical activity, starting with incentives for using the stairs instead of the elevator. Unlike most multifamily residences in New York City, the Melody’s stairwells are wide and bright and feature artwork and music. In contrast, the building’s one elevator run more slowly than average, has no music, and is not as prominently placed as the stairs.

“On each floor, everyone has to walk past the stairs to get to the elevator, so really the stairs are always your first option,” says Les Bluestone, a partner with New York City-based Blue Sea Development. “We tried to make it as effortless as possible to choose walking.”

With a disproportionate number of low-income Americans battling obesity and weight-related illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, the stakes are especially high for residents of the South Bronx, one of the poorest neighborhoods in New York City. Families there are stricken by asthma eight times more than the national average, and researchers have pointed to poor indoor air quality and crowded living conditions as leading causes.

To ensure healthy air quality at the Melody, Bluestone and architect Hugo Subotovsky did away with the common vertical ducts found in most multifamily buildings. Instead, each unit is fully air sealed and contains a continuous background ventilation system with Panasonic inline fans that run 24 hours a day and are connected to the bathrooms and kitchen. Islandaire PTAC units in every room provide hydronic heating; the units are filtered to MERV-8 and vent directly to the outdoors.

To avoid conditions that can cause or exacerbate asthma, project planners speced products that won’t detract from indoor air quality, such as low-VOC paints, adhesives, and cabinets; tile floors in the bathrooms and kitchens; and carpet tiles in the public corridors.

The project’s list of green building products and materials is rounded out by Pella low-E fiberglass-framed windows with argon gas fill (0.30 U-value), Sterling dual-flush toilets, low-flow faucets and showerheads, recycled drywall, and FSC-certified Paratimber engineered wood floors in the living areas.

NEIGHBORHOOD REVITALIZATION 
With prices ranging from $104,000 to $220,000 for one- to three-bedroom apartments, the Melody is open to families with incomes between $35,000 and $90,000. Residents will own their units as part of a proprietary leasing arrangement and will also be responsible for monthly utility and maintenance charges, which vary depending on the apartment’s size and range from $364 to $651.

Named the Melody to reflect the neighborhood’s rich jazz history, the building borders the Longwood historic district and sits one block from a subway stop. The former brownfield site was vacant for more than 30 years but is now part of a larger effort to revitalize the South Bronx, home to the recently refurbished and expanded Yankee Stadium.
 
New tenants of the Melody, the first co-op built in the neighborhood in decades, are thrilled to have a place to call home that is also sustainable, comfortable, and money-saving, Bluestone says.

“For most of them, it’s their first home and they are amazed at the level of finishes and quality when they see it.”

Jennifer Goodman is Senior Editor for EcoHome.