Green Housing

Award-Winning Housing

RBSCC was an early adopter of green building and energy efficiency technologies in residential construction. From participating in NYSERDA's first pilot program for multi-family buildings in 2004 to the 2014 completion of the first 100% affordable multi-family passive house in the country, RBSCC has been a leader in the field of green development for over a decade.

United Revival Housing Apartments (2014)
424 Melrose Street

The United Revival Housing Apartments, a joint venture between RBSCC and Mennonite United Revival Church, is a 24 unit affordable rental housing building. The building has the distinction of being the first multifamily affordable passive house to be completed in the country. The passive house standards, which were developed in Germany and are under consideration for adoption by the European Union, dictate these standards to dramatically increase energy efficiency:

  • increased insulation
  • an air-tight building shell
  • ventilation systems for fresh air flow
  • well-placed triple pane windows

The standards result in a building that retains heat in the winter, and avoids strain on the cooling systems in the summer. The building is expected to use only 10-30% of the energy of a typical New York City apartment building. The four-story building includes:

  • a community room 
  • laundry room
  • tenant storage 
  • parking
  • an outdoor patio

The units will be affordable to households with incomes at or below 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI), with 4 units affordable to those earning below 50% of AMI and 8 units below 30%. Of these, 15 units will serve persons with physical disabilities. 8 units will receive rental assistance under the HTFC Project Based Voucher Initiative.

RBSCC has been recognized in a Mennonite World Review article, in Real Estate Weekly, in MHN Online, and in a New York Daily News article for this groundbreaking achievement. 

Knickerbocker Commons (2014)
803 Knickerbocker Avenue

Photo of residential apartment building
RBSCC held the ribbon cutting for Knickerbocker Commons on November 21st, 2014

RBSCC's second passive house, also 24 units, is also 100% affordable, offering apartments for individuals and families earning less than 30%, 50%, and 60% of AMI. There are four 1BR apartments, sixteen 2BRs, and four 3BRs. Five of the apartments are set aside for persons with physical disabilities. One apartment is reserved for a live-in superintendent.

The building is six stories and a total of 34,581 square feet. It includes a community room and laundry room for residents' use, as well as a 5,000 square foot Community Service Facility (CSF) on the first floor, which is rented to an early childhood education center. Seven parking spaces are provided in the rear of the building for residents' use. One elevator will serve the building. Bike storage and bulk storage for every apartment will be provided in the cellar. 

Read more about the building's energy efficiency in NY Observer and  New York Daily News articles.  Additionally, Knickerbocker Commons is a featured in the New York City government's mayoral report "One City Built to Last: Transforming New York City's Buildings for a Low-Carbon Future" (see page 36), and in the article "An Active Market for Passive" in the Fall 2015 edition of Oculus (see pages 29-33). 

Rheingold Brewery Redevelopment
533-555 Bushwick Avenue

Rheingold Partnership Homes
Rheingold Gardens at 533/555 Bushwick Avenue
Renaissance Estates at 9 Noll Street
Bushwick Gardens at 68 Garden Street
Rheingold Heights One at 87 Melrose Street
Rheingold Heights Two at 61 Melrose Street

In 2000, the RBSCC Housing Department embarked on its most ambitious project to date – the redevelopment of the former Rheingold Brewery. Starting with a community-based design charrette that included international architects and planners, a vision emerged to convert the 7 acre vacant site into a vibrant, mixed-use community of homeownership and rental housing, community facilities and retail space, open space and parkland. RBSCC spearheaded the redevelopment throughout the process and ensured that community input was integral to every major decision. See the project brochure  that was created during the process for more details. Ten years later, the result was the first brownfield site in NYS to be redeveloped with 100% affordable housing. It includes almost 500 units of housing, over 20,000 square feet of community facility space and over 20,000 square feet of retail space, as well as a public park. Read a detailed history of the project in the report "Reclaiming the Land, Revitalizing Communities" from The United States Conference of Mayors (see page 23).

As explained in the report, the site underwent environmental clean up to resolve contamination issues from having housed a brewery, a gas station with underground tanks, a garage, a commercial waste paper plant, a parking lot and illegal waste disposal. Classified as a brownfield, the site was capped with impermeable surfaces to prepare the site for rebuilding.

In addition to the repurposing of a contaminated former industrial site, the Rheingold redevelopment pursued excellence in green housing design through aggressive energy efficiency measures, recycling of construction waste, and use of eco-friendly building materials wherever possible. The project also included the following features:

  • Solar panels on the roofs of two of the rental buildings
  • A green roof atop one of the community facilities
  • Compliance with the NYSERDA Multifamily Performance Program

Awards

The RheinGold Brewery Redevelopment received a number of accolades including:

  • Building Brooklyn Award, 2006
  • NYC Brownfield Award from the Partnership of Brownfield Practitioners, 2009
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency Phoenix Award, Northeast Region, 2005
  • The National Home Builders Association for Innovation in Workforce Housing Award, 2004