Sustainable Housing: How You Can Make a Difference

Did you know that New York City is one of the smoggiest cities in the country?

Did you know that New York City is one of the smoggiest cities in the country? 

According to the American Lung Association's 2019 State of the Air report, the New York metropolitan area ranked No. 10 on the list of the 25 most ozone-polluted cities in the U.S. And as the largest metro area in the country, that puts more people at risk for the negative health effects of air pollution. According to the EPA, ozone pollution has the following health effects:
  • Respiratory harm, including worsened asthma, COPD, and inflammation.
  • Likely to cause early death (from both short-term and long-term exposure).
  • Likely to cause cardiovascular harm, including heart attacks, strokes, heart disease, and congestive heart failure.
  • May also cause harm to the central nervous system as well as reproductive and developmental harm.
So what does that have to do with sustainable housing? Can how we live and build make a difference? Yes, a TREMENDOUS difference, in fact!
The construction sector is one of the dirtiest industries in the world, responsible for about 4 percent of all particulate emissions and MORE water pollution hazards than any other business. Sustainable development, on the other hand, strives to avoid harmful environmental impacts throughout each project's life cycle. That includes reducing the depletion and disruption of natural resources used in construction, creating buildings that are energy- and resource-efficient, enhancing the indoor environment quality, and considering maintenance and upkeep as well. By building with these goals in mind, we can offset pollution throughout the building's construction and long-term operation.
Here is just a sliver of what sustainable development can achieve:
  • Reduce or eliminate pollution through sustainable design and non-toxic materials choices.
  • Generate energy through renewable sources like solar and reduce consumption through smart systems and design. Forget about being energy-neutral — Let's shoot for energy positive!
  • Reclaim rainwater for irrigation and maintenance.
  • Reduce flooding run-off, minimize the greenhouse effect and even produce food through green roof technology.
  • Encourage retrofitting existing structures rather than promoting new construction, and push for a design that considers future changes to climate, water levels, and other factors to reduce the need for rebuilding.
Think this approach is a moonshot? It's not. Entire community-level projects are underway or already in place all around the world, including ReGen Villages, a company that aims to build cities of power positive homes, renewable energy, water management, organic food production, and waste-to-resource systems. They will break ground on their first village in Almere, Netherlands, near Amsterdam, in 2020. In Costa Rica, La EcoVilla is a 44-lot community devoted to permaculture — a holistic way of living in harmony with nature.
Closer to home, a few of my favorite sustainable and eco-friendly projects include Brooklyn Grange's massive rooftop farm in Sunset Park, Brooklyn; the green roof garden and outdoor classroom at PS 6 on the Upper East Side of Manhattan; and the many ways in which even older skyscrapers, like the Empire State Building, are striving to be environmentally aware.
All of this innovation in the realm of sustainability and eco-consciousness is inspiring me to re-think the future of real estate in the city and around the world. I hope you are excited to join me on this ride!

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Su doesn't see clients as mere transactions but as real human beings with real human needs. She is passionate about educating and empowering clients to make smart decisions, and as a devoted and human-centric advocate.

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