Launch Slideshow

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‘Green’ building gets the gold

‘Green’ building gets the gold

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    The Solaire has 293 rental units, ranging in size from studio to three-bedroom apartments. Photos: American Water

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    The membrane ultrafiltration pumps and related equipment are housed in the basement. Liquid/solid separation is accomplished using membrane ultrafiltration technology.

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    The green roof on the 19th floor of the Solaire is irrigated with captured stormwater.

Zavoda is a senior project engineer with American Water, Applied Water Management Group, in Hillsborough, N.J.

The pieces of the Solaire's puzzle

The unit processes for the Solaire's treatment and recycling system are:

  • Three-stage membrane bioreactor consisting of:
  • Anoxic mix tank
  • Aerobic digestion tank
  • Filter tank containing ultrafiltration membrane assemblies to remove suspended solids, with recirculation back to the anoxic tank
  • Ozone oxidation for color removal
  • Ultraviolet light disinfection
  • Finished water storage tanks
  • Booster pumping system and recycled water distribution piping
  • Aerated influent feed tank
  • Trash trap to intercept non-biodegradable solids.
  • Associated equipment includes:

  • pH adjustment to enhance the nitrification process, using sodium hydroxide
  • Liquid sodium hypochlorite feed system for membrane cleaning
  • Automatic filter backwash and cleaning system
  • System controller and automatic telephone dialer/alarm system.
  • Green roof produces its own energy

    When designing the Solaire, authorities from Battery Park City hired a team of experts to develop what has since become a definitive model for all green, high-rise residential buildings—the Battery Park City Authority Residential Environmental Guidelines. One of these guidelines focuses on energy savings and, in the design of the Solaire, took root in the development of “green roofs.” In addition to saving energy, the green roofs provide Solaire residents a number of benefits conducive to sustainable living.

    One of the building specifications required the integration of photovoltaic (PV) panels to generate solar energy equal to 5% of the building's base electrical load. PV panels are essentially laminated glass with silicon cells inside, wired to create energy. The two primary benefits of PV are energy independence and environmental compatibility—essential components to sustainable design. For this system, silicon wafers recycled from old computer parts were wedged between two pieces of glass; when sunlight hits the silicon surface, free electrons are produced, yielding energy without noise or moving parts.

    When building the Solaire, the design team faced an enormous challenge deciding in which areas to place PV panels. Ultimately, the team decided to incorporate half of the panels on the front of the building, and the other half on the roof. The PV panels were installed on the walls of the “bulkhead,” which screens the cooling tower and house tank on the roof of the building. The panels became not only decorative add-ons, but also an integral part of building design, acting as both an energy producer and an enclosure. The incorporation of PV panels into the Solaire has become the most prominent design signature of the building.

    The Solaire's green roofs are located on the flat roofs of the 19th and 28th floors. In addition to saving solar energy, the roofs have many other beneficial uses. For example, they serve as a receptacle for collecting rainwater, which is then used for irrigation. The green roofs also help keep the average apartment temperature down by approximately 10° F daily during the summer.