When CookFox Architects was going after a LEED Platinum rating for One Bryant Park, in New York (2009), its younger staff approached principals Rick Cook and Robert Fox. Granted, at 1,200 feet, the office tower would be the tallest green skyscraper in the world. But, Cook says, his employees asked, 'Why not bring sustainability to low-income and affordable housing?' The architects contacted Common Ground, a New York nonprofit social-services organization. Soon the firm was designing the Hegeman in Brooklyn, a LEED Silver building with 161 efficiency units for low-income and previously homeless men and women. The double do-good (social and environmental) project, completed in 2012 on Hegeman Avenue in the Brownsville neighborhood, not only bolsters Common Ground's desire to bring support services and affordable housing to long-ignored parts of the city, but now, says executive director Brenda Rosen, it acts as a talisman to Common Ground's Green Campaign.
While various governmental housing programs helped finance the $25 million construction cost ($320 a square foot) plus furnishings, Common Ground sought private funding for certain features and services'including a few green ones. The architects added energy-control devices to the 285-square-foot units; installed a 3,400-square-foot sedum roof and a photovoltaic system to harness sunlight energy for exterior lighting; and specified low-E and fritted glazing and solar shades.