Question: What do you get when you combine $800 million, a Brownfield Site in the South Bronx and four of the top architecture firms in New York City?
Answer:Lots of green roofs!
Eight green roofs, to be exact. Via Verde is a 222-unit affordable, and quite luxurious I might add, public housing development designed with state-of-the-art sustainability built into just about every detail.
A fruit tree orchard and an urban rooftop farm provide the most local, fresh food possible grown by and for Via Verde’s residents. In the center of the complex, on a low rooftop that all can see and easily access, is a grove of living Christmas trees. Via Verde residents can enjoy the tree decorating tradition each Christmas without having to cut down 222 trees.
Three rooftops, two of which are accessible by residents, are planted with sedum, those tough little succulents that survive NYC’s hottest summer days and coldest winter nights, even though they are planted in just four inches of lightweight manufactured soil. Sedum function like big, green sponges on rooftops, absorbing rainwater and minimizing the pesky urban problem of polluted storm water runoff flowing right into our rivers. Furthermore, the rooftop drainage system is carefully designed to collect rainwater into barrels – also minimizing the runoff. Later, this stored water is used to irrigate the orchard, the farm and the rest of the complex’s lush landscaping.
South-facing rooftops get lots of sunlight, so the clever (and well-funded) Via Verde designers took advantage and installed a covered walkway made of photovoltaic – also known as solar – panels. The collected energy from these panels, plus more panels integrated into the buildings’ design, provides enough electricity to power all the common areas and exterior lighting.
After residents have grown their food, decorated their living Christmas trees, collected electricity to light their way at night and water to irrigate their trees and shrubs, they can relax on the 20th floor “party roof.” This luxurious amenity is an easy to get to, smartly furnished rooftop with sweeping, 360-degree views over the Bronx and Manhattan.
A “model for affordable housing,” Via Verde, as its name implies, is indeed showing us the Green Way.