Local Law 86

Local Law 86

The Department of Design and Construction took its real steps towards sustainability in April 1999 when it released High Performance Building Guidelines, a 26-page document that laid out how city agencies might improve the environmental and economic performance of its buildings. With chapters on construction administration, energy use, water management, and material selection, the tone of the booklet is hortatory, with a big emphasis on the economic benefits of green buildings.

The days of gentle urging are about to end: Local Law 86 (LL86), which goes into effect this coming January, takes these general guidelines and gives them the force of law. It means that all municipal construction projects over a certain size and budget must be LEED-certified with a minimum Silver rating, which generally means that the finished project will consume 25 percent less energy than a comparable building that doesnnt employ the LEED strategies. To make sure that city agencies are complying with the new rules, the Office of Sustainable Development within DDC will assign a representative to monitor the progress of every project that is subject to LEED rating requirements. And though LL86 has yet to go into effect, many DDC projects already underwayyincluding the three belowwbegan to follow its mandate.


courtesy FXFowle

The Bronx Zoo Lion House
Bronx, New York
Completion: June 2007

When FXFowle took on the restoration of the Bronx Zooos Lion House, a 1903 Beaux Artssstyle building by Heins & LaFarge, they had to completely overhaul the landmark buildinggs systemsswhich the original architects hid as much as possible to reveal the structurees exposed trusses and skylights. For the skylights, ethylene tetraflouroethylene (ETFE), or inflatable plastic pillowss were installed. Depending on how much air is pumped into these membranes, they are capable of adjusting shading and the amount of heat and ultraviolet light they let through, which may vary according to daylight conditions. In other words, they can control the levels of ultraviolet light needed by the plants and animals without creating excess heat within the interiors. With a geothermal system designed to reuse excess heat throughout the building, the architects have managed to reduce the energy use in the building by 57 percenttone of the reasons that the Lion House is the nationns first LEED-rated landmarked building.

Courtesy BKSK

Queens Botanical Garden
Queens, New York
BKSK Architects
Completion: July 2006

It makes sense that the architects of a new building in a botanical garden would be particularly concerned with minimizing its energy footprint, but BKSK has taken its design for an administration building at the Queens Botanical Garden to the next level, i.e., a LEED Platinum rating. To reduce the consumption of potable water, the architects went further than the familiar low-flow fixtures and waterless urinals, and devised a rainwater catchment system on the roof that drains into a manmade stream whose plants clean the water. Along with a graywater system, the 15,000-square-foot building and its surrounding meadow uses 41 percent less potable water than a structure of comparable size. The buildinggs energy use is projected to be 48 percent less than is typical for a building of its size, and the $14,500 annual energy savings means that strategies like geothermal heat pumps, high-performance glass, and photovoltaic panels should pay for themselves within seven to eight years.

Courtesy Viioly Architects

Brooklyn Children’s Museum
Brooklyn, New York
Rafael Viioly Architects
Completion: Fall 2007

Since childrenns museums are typically places where kids learn experientially, Rafael Viioly Architects embedded several of the sustainable strategies that will earn the Brooklyn Childrenns Museum (BCM) its LEED Silver rating in a way that kids can understand. The L-shaped addition surrounds a series of roof terraces where visitors can see photovoltaic roof panels in action. The bright yellow color of the buildinggs exterior does more than just catch the eye: it absorbs far less heat, reducing the load that would ordinarily have to be removed with an HVAC system.

The primary way the museum will achieve its projected 25 percent energy savings is by using a geothermal heating and cooling system. Water at a constant temperature will be drawn from two 345-foot- deep supply wells: When the water has run its course through the buildinggs HVAC system, it will be discharged back into the nearby aquifer.