The Solaire Sets Standard for Sustainability

Coordination, innovation, and concrete make landmark building possible

green_solaireSince late summer 2003, hundreds have called The Solaire home. The nation’s first green residential high-rise building is just blocks away from ground zero in lower Manhattan’s Battery Park City, and is the product of a first-ever coordination of three green-building guidelines. A concrete structural system is at the heart of the environmentally engineered and sustainable building.

The $120-million Solaire stands 27 stories tall with 293 rental units. A reinforced concrete structural system was chosen in large part because its thermal mass moderates daily temperature swings and reduces energy needed for heating and cooling. Among its many environmental benefits, the building is designed to consume 35 percent less energy, a savings that is potentially worth five points toward the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) energy and atmosphere credit. The footprint measures 15,000 square feet up to floor 16, while floors 17 through 27 have an 8,000-square-foot footprint. The floor system utilizes 7-inch-thick slabs in typical building bays of 14-feet-by-24-feet. The Solaire used approximately 10,000 cubic yards of concrete.

To make the project possible, developer Albanese Organization took advantage of New York State’s Green Building Tax Credit, enacted in January 2001 to provide assistance to new projects. The Solaire also follows LEED certification requirements set by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and Residential Environmental Guidelines for New Construction set forth by Battery Park City. The Solaire is registered with USGBC with intent to become LEED-certified.

To help meet recycled content standards for all applicable green guidelines, the project team designed a concrete mix to supplement cementitious content with 18 percent fly ash for most of the structure. In the foundation, fly ash was used at 40 percent, a typical application used to control the heat of hydration in mat foundations and mass concrete. About 50 percent of the total building material was recycled content, and close to 50 percent of all material including the concrete, was manufactured within 500 miles of the job site.

“The advantages of concrete are tremendous,” says Silvian Marcus of The Cantor Seinuk Group, structural consultants on The Solaire. Construction standards in the New York area demand two-day cycles, and he says concrete can help project teams meet aggressive schedule goals.

“There is no comparison with any other system in terms of speed of construction,” he said.

With The Solaire a success, Albanese Organization started a new companion project: a sustainable high-rise residential building that will have concrete as its backbone and a host of environmental benefits for residents. Construction will begin early in 2005.

Photo Courtesy: Albanese Organization