The Solaire and Beyond: Integrating Environmental Performance into Building Design

May 15, 2007

The glass-and-brick Solaire residential tower overlooks New York City’s Battery Park City, a planned residential and commercial neighborhood built on landfill bordering the west side of New York City's financial district and directly adjacent to the site of the former World Trade Center. It is the first building designed in accordance with new environmental guidelines instituted in 2000 by the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), the government entity that has overseen the development of Battery Park City since 1969.  

The Solaire was designed to consume 35% less energy, reduce peak demand for electricity by 65%, and require 50% less potable water than a conventional, residential high-rise building. An integrated array of photovoltaic panels generates 5% of the building's energy at peak loading. The building incorporates an advanced HVAC system, fueled by natural gas and free of ozone-depleting refrigerants. Multi-level humidification and ventilation systems supply filtered fresh air to each residential unit. Daylighting was maximized and balanced with the thermal envelope. High-performance casement windows were used throughout. All residential units include programmable digital thermostats, ENERGY STAR® fixtures, and a master shut-off switch. Common areas include occupancy sensors and daylight sensors to further optimize energy use.  

Rafael Pelli, the Principal of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects’ New York office, led the design team and discussed the Solaire project as part of the lecture series co-sponsored by the National Building Museum and DOE. The same team also designed two other Battery Park buildings—the Verdesian and the Visionaire—using lessons learned in the Solaire project to further the state of the art of sustainable high-rise residential design. At the lecture, Mr. Pelli talked about all three of these environmental achievements, and now you can download his complete presentation.