Courtesy of Alloy

A Sustainable Skyscraper Grows In Brooklyn Thanks To Alloy

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Alloy is an architectural and design firm that focus on property in New York City, especially the borough of Brooklyn. Its most recent project is a 44 story residential building located at 505 State Street in downtown Brooklyn. What makes the building unique is its emphasis on sustainable living. It has no gas fired furnaces or stoves. Instead, everything in the building — heat, air conditioning, elevators, pools — operates on electricity from renewable sources.

With today’s host of climate concerns informing both designs and regulations, the residential tower will operate solely on renewable energy, embodying an optimistic step toward environmental sustainability and reduced carbon emissions. The concept of all electric housing isn’t new. Many single family homes and smaller buildings have taken the approach of harnessing electricity for all their energy needs — from heating and cooling to cooking and hot water. What sets the 505 State Street project apart is its scale. Applying these technologies to a 44 story New York residential tower with 441 apartments presented a new set of challenges for the architects and designers at Alloy.

On its web page, Alloy introduces itself as a collection of architects and developers who see opportunity in the diversity and complexity of urban communities. “We use great architecture and thoughtful development to positively impact our built environment. The fundamental promise of our business has always been driven by the belief that rigorous analysis and quality design can create enduring and recognizable value. With over $1.6 billion in work since 2006, we have established ourselves as stewards of the communities in which we live and work.

“Through our unique organizational culture, we challenge the architecture and real estate disciplines by questioning existing practices and proposing new ways to benefit the social and built environment. The purpose of our business has always been guided by professionals who want to positively contribute to the built environment.”

505 State Street, Brooklyn

“As the first all electric skyscraper in New York City, 505 State Street is a transformative development which represents the future of sustainable living,” Alloy CEO Jared Della Valle told DesignBoom. “Residents will not only be able to enjoy beautifully designed apartments with sweeping views of the city skyline, but will also critically benefit from the health, environmental and cost benefits that come with reducing your carbon footprint. We look forward to welcoming residents as we usher in a new era for green development in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn.”

Typically, skyscrapers rely on a complex web of gas pipes and boilers to meet their energy demands. For 505 State Street, this equation was flipped. The architects and engineers had to reimagine every aspect of the building’s infrastructure, from sourcing high-capacity electrical lines to designing hyper-efficient, entirely electric HVAC systems. A Request for Proposals was recently issued by the team to enroll the project in community solar projects that will secure a 100 percent local renewable energy supply for the building.

Of the 441 units in the new building, 45 will be income restricted. With nine to twelve foot ceilings, each apartment is curated with oak wood flooring and exposed concrete. Smart home technology is integrated so that residents will be able to optimize their energy consumption through their smartphone. The building also opens out to generous green spaces and recreational areas to further bring nature-minded living into the dense and growing neighborhood. Part of the energy efficiency of each unit is the use of triple glazed windows throughout. Not only that, those windows actually open, allowing fresh air into the living spaces when desired.

Courtesy of Alloy

Residents will enjoy living in a carefully thought out building that meets all of their needs in a sustainable structure. They will have access to a full suite of premier amenities such as a 24 hour attended lobby with a coffee shop, a community concierge, a mail and package room, a bike storage room, in-building laundry, a pet wash, and a bodega. The building also offers a 3,000 square foot gym, a yoga studio, a grow room, a play space for children, a lounge that can be reserved by residents, a screening room, and a workspace for those who are able to work remotely. The 42nd floor of the building includes a rooftop pool, terrace space, and cabanas with a grill. Residents will also be able to reserve the sky lounge, kitchen, and terrace space for entertaining.

Alloy Is Leading The Energy Efficient Building Movement

Once complete, 505 State Street will represent a watershed moment not just for New York City and Brooklyn but for the entire industry. It will become a precedent for electrically powered buildings, even at the scale of skyscrapers, especially if it achieves its goal of operating with 100 percent renewable energy.

Alloy is all in on building sustainable buildings in Brooklyn. Not far from the 505 State Street tower, it is building two schools — a new elementary school and a new home for the Khalil Gibran International Academy at 489 State Street. Both new school buildings are scheduled to be completed in the fall of this year. Together, they will be New York’s first passive house schools. The design of the schools was led by the Architecture Research Office as design architect and Ishmael Leyva as architect of record.

505 State Street and 489 State Street are part of the first phase of construction of The Alloy Block, an entire city block in Brooklyn that will be comprised of buildings that feature the latest energy efficiency techniques in order to reduce carbon emissions from the built environment.

Saving Energy, Saving Money

It’s not just about emissions. Energy efficient buildings save their owners and occupants lots of money that doesn’t have to be spent on heating and cooling. In 2011, the US Department of Energy started the Better Buildings Initiative. Today, this public-private partnership includes more than 900 businesses, state and local governments, utilities, housing authorities, and other organizations across the United States.

All of those entities are pursuing ambitious energy, waste, water, and/or greenhouse gas reduction goals to improve the energy efficiency of American homes, commercial buildings, and industrial plants. Better Buildings partners commit to expanding their investments in energy saving technologies, share best practices with each other, and measure their progress toward pre-determined goals.

Every year the Department of Energy releases a report that outlines the progress made by the Better Buildings Initiative during the past year. According to the 2022 report, the program has saved participants more than $15 billion since its inception and avoided 155 million metric tons of carbon emissions — equal to the greenhouse gas emissions from 20 million homes each year. That sort of forward thinking is helping Americans save money and the country to reach its commitments to lower its carbon emissions in line with the guidelines of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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