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Re: On a tiny lot in Greenville, architects create an affordable, sustainable house
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Single-family house is Jersey City's Green Building of 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010
By JANET LEONARDI
THE STAR-LEDGER

When one thinks of building an eco-friendly home, Jersey City might not immediately come to mind as a place to do it. With nearly a quarter-million residents packed into a dense 15 square miles, all things green there would seem to be at a premium.

But architects and Jersey City residents Richard Garber and Nicole Robertson of GRO Architects in New York rose to the challenge of designing and overseeing the construction of a single-family house that's a true testament to both innovative design and eco-friendly technology.

Garber, also an assistant professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology's College of Architecture and Design in Newark, was commissioned in 2007 by Denis Carpenter to design a concrete home with a fixed budget of $250,000.

"I'd recently purchased a small vacant lot and because of concern for the environment, wanted a house that was efficient, easy to maintain and which would take me through retirement," said Carpenter, who often rides his bicycle from the house at 1 Minerva St. to Forest Research Institute in Jersey City where he works as a medical files clerk.

Garber and Robertson, a husband-and-wife team, evaluated the lot and its climate to determine the optimum design and orientation for the two-bedroom, one-bathroom house.

The success of the project, completed in October 2009, is evidenced by the fact that Garber and Robertson are in talks with two Jersey City developers about future green buildings in the city. The 1,600-square-foot house won a 2009 American Institute of Architects merit award and the 2010 Green Building of the Year Award from the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency.

On the ground level, radiant heating beneath the exposed concrete floor warms the home's full bathroom and two bedrooms, one of which Carpenter uses as an office for his work as a part-time musician.

The loft-like second level is reached by a bamboo stairway to the living room and an artfully designed kitchen. Bamboo floors on the upper level also have radiant heating.

The house features awning windows for ventilation and large stationary custom windows. Though it is not air-conditioned, Carpenter said rooms remain relatively cool even on hot days.

The home's unique roof is formed by two triangles and holds 260 square feet of photovoltaic panels that cut about $360 a year from the home's energy costs, he said.

Carpenter had high praise for his boldly designed green house. "I wanted a home that was sustainable and economical to maintain and I more than got it."

Posted on: 2010/8/16 17:03
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Re: On a tiny lot in Greenville, architects create an affordable, sustainable house
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And no Graffiti yet.

Why would ANYONE put such a house in Greenville????

Yes I have always wondered why the identical house in a fine neighborhood costs 3 times as much to BUILD as one in a less nice neighborhood. It seems the cost of contruction is a constant so it obviously has little bearing on the price.

I mean it doesn't cost more to lay brick or pour concrete near a good school than it does near a bad one does it?

Posted on: 2010/5/3 21:22
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Re: On a tiny lot in Greenville, architects create an affordable, sustainable house
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KDB wrote:
Just curious. Why in NY/NJ is it considered extremely affordable to build a 1600sq ft house (land not included) for $250K where in other states you can get larger brand new constructions for $160K -$180 (includes builders mark up). Is the cost of doing business that much higher? What are the contributing factors? Thanks

This is what the brainwashing media wants you to think.

Posted on: 2010/4/26 16:51
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Re: On a tiny lot in Greenville, architects create an affordable, sustainable house
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Just curious. Why in NY/NJ is it considered extremely affordable to build a 1600sq ft house (land not included) for $250K where in other states you can get larger brand new constructions for $160K -$180 (includes builders mark up). Is the cost of doing business that much higher? What are the contributing factors?


Thanks

Posted on: 2010/4/26 16:49
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On a tiny lot in Greenville, architects create an affordable, sustainable house
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Web hed: On a tiny lot in Jersey City, architects create an affordable, sustainable house

Tuesday, April 13, 2010
BY KATHLEEN LYNN
THE RECORD
STAFF WRITER

Hired to design a house in Jersey City, architects Nicole Robertson and Richard Garber faced a tight budget and an even tighter space: a building lot that was only 23 feet wide and 56 feet deep.

Resized Image
Richard Garber and Nicole Robertson used precast concrete from a company in South Jersey to form the walls of the home. The 30-degree angle of the roof allows solar panels to collect maximum sunlight.
And the owner wanted the home to be low-maintenance and environmentally sustainable.

The two solved these problems with a two-bedroom house that combines solar panels, precast concrete and cedar in a geometric shape that cuts energy costs by an estimated 30 percent. It also allows for abundant light and breezes — as well as views of the Statue of Liberty — through large windows.

"It's a concrete house, basically," said Garber, who also teaches at the New Jersey Institute of Technology's architecture school.

Garber and Robertson, a married couple who live in Jersey City and are partners in the New York architecture firm GRO Architects, were recently honored by the American Institute of Architects' New Jersey chapter for the home. Judges called it "inventive with a limited budget"; the 1,600-square-foot home was built for $250,000.

When the client, Denis Carpenter, approached the pair, he had only a few requirements: the house had to fit his budget, be environmentally sustainable and include a cat door. The architects started by designing a triangular roof facing south, covered with solar panels and tipped 30 degrees to catch the sunlight. With tax incentives and energy savings, the solar panels are expected to pay for themselves within about five years, the architects say.

Another major energy gain came from the use of insulated concrete, which provides a tight envelope around the house. Rather than try to use poured concrete at the site — which is expensive and labor-intensive — Robertson and Garber decided to use precast concrete panels that could be shipped to the site and welded together in place.

The problem was finding a supplier. They called Northeast Precast in Millville in South Jersey. The company turned them down at first, because it didn't have the engineering and design capability to produce customized concrete panels. It produced panels only in standard sizes, most often for building foundations.

But the company's president, John Ruga, was intrigued by the project, and by the architects' persistence and passion.

"I give them a lot of credit for pushing us," Ruga said. "They said, 'You're going to have to figure out a way to do it.' "

And Northeast Precast did. The Jersey City project, in fact, led the company into a new line of business producing customized panels, Ruga said.

To soften the look of the concrete, Robertson and Garber added cedar screens to the front and back of the house.

"We were conscious of the negative impact of putting a concrete bunker in the neighborhood," Garber said.

The house is in the Greenville neighborhood, next to a tiny, derelict park and a couple of blocks from the light rail tracks. New houses are mixed in with older homes throughout the neighborhood, part of the widespread revitalization of the city in recent years.

The architects see their house as part of that revitalization, and hope it can be a prototype for low-cost, energy-efficient urban infill development.

"We see it as an alternative to a lot of urban frame houses that are less durable," Robertson said.

E-mail: lynn@northjersey.com

Posted on: 2010/4/13 13:25
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