NY’s “greenest” avoids LEED certification

By Amy Tennery | February 10, 2011 02:50PM

A Rego Park, Queens, apartment building was named the greenest building of its kind in New York state, all while eschewing the ever-popular LEED certification program.

The 50-unit rental building, known as the Andrew, welcomed tenants last spring, according to developer Bluestone Organization, and was just named the most energy-efficient multi-family new development in the state by Steven Winter Associates, a consulting firm specializing in green engineering and a partner with a state-run green certification program.

But while LEED certification has been de rigueur among New York City’s green buildings, Bluestone partner Steven Bluestone said his company decided to go another route.

“There’s a growing number of people who are anti-LEED… LEED did put green and sustainable projects on the map, but it’s very expensive and it doesn’t necessarily do everything it says,” Bluestone said, noting that the process of getting a LEED review can be very pricey.

“I know some agencies in the city that are shying away from it because of that expense,” he added.

The Bluestone Organization, which developed and now owns the Andrew, opted instead to register with the New York State Energy Research Development Agency’s Multi-family Performance Program, a government-run environmental review program, which uses Steven Winter to monitor buildings that enroll in the program. Winter just recently began tracking the long-term success of buildings in the NYSERDA program, which led to the Andrew’s designation.

But while upwards of 45 buildings in New York City are LEED-certified, the four-year-old NYSERDA program is still gaining momentum. The Steven Winter program has roughly 10 multi-family buildings enrolled across the state. Other multi-family NYSERDA buildings in the city include the Eltona and 1212 MLK Apartments, both in the Bronx. (note: clarification made)

“The Andrew is the best we’ve seen in its class,” said Ryan Merkin, a project manager with Steven Winter.

Now, after a year of occupancy at the designated middle-income apartment building, where studios and one- and two-bedroom units are available, Bluestone said the average cost of heat per apartment per year is below $200, and the building uses less heating gas than “99 percent of buildings in New York state,” according to Bluestone.