The Helena—FXFOWLE's new apartment building on Manhattan's West Side—is the first voluntarily sustainable high-rise residential building in the city and among the most efficient in the country, says Bruce Fowle, FAIA, LEED, senior principal of the New York City-based firm.
Like many swanky high-rises, the 37-story, 580-unit Helena is wrapped in a combination of slick metal and glass, but it's not just another pretty façade. An on-site “blackwater”-treatment system converts waste into potable water, which can be recycled to flush low-flow toilets and to irrigate recreational decks and green roofs. A photovoltaic system takes care of about 5 percent of the building's energy needs, and an incremental heat-pump system delivers heating and cooling to individual units. “This system is more costly, but it's efficient, so there's a payback,” Fowle says.
The rental property's mix of studio, one-, and two-bedroom affordable and market-rate apartments are painted and carpeted with low-VOC materials, and the cabinets are wheatboard. Flooring consists of linoleum and engineered wood made from certified sources. Motion-sensing lights in the public areas and Energy Star appliances help conserve energy.
FXFOWLE is working on two more green projects in the city—both for different developers. “Everything is a balance between the market and environmental sustainability,” Fowle says. “We think there's now a market, so you will see more sustainable design.”