NYC housing complex updates energy efficiency in post-Sandy rebuild

(Rendering courtesy of CTA Architect)

Crews have broken ground on a $9.89-million affordable housing complex in New York City that will use energy technologies adapted in response to Hurricane Sandy’s devastation five years ago.

The Haven Plaza on Manhattan’s East Side is a joint effort by CTA Architects, managing agent The Wavecrest Management Team and Haven Plaza Square, an affiliate of the Association of New York Catholic Homes and the New York Institute for Human Development (IHD).

This new two-story structure plus basement and the upgrades throughout the complex are in direct response to 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. A storm surge that forced the nearby East River over its banks devastated the Con Edison East River Generation Station adjacent to Haven Plaza. The building is slated for completion in late 2018.

The housing complex lost all electricity and steam for heat. Residents – many elderly – were trapped without elevator service, electricity, heat, or water. National Guard units provided food and water.

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) awarded nearly $10 million to Haven Plaza Square LLC for the project through the New York City Build It Back program.

“We look forward to the completion of the new infrastructure building. It will provide our residents with security and comfort in case of a disaster. It will also lower our heating costs, while tremendously improving the architecture of the entire property,” said Monsignor Kevin J. Nelan, President of Haven Plaza Square and Pastor at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Manhattan’s East Village.

 The new 2,080-square foot building, located at 212 Avenue C at East 13th Street, will house three boilers for heating steam on the second level, with gas as the primary fuel; electrical meters, domestic hot water pumps, and hot water heaters on the first level; and oil backup storage in the protected sub-grade space.

“The new facility addresses Haven Plaza’s need to be self-sufficient during both regular operations and in case of a natural disaster, instead of relying on a costly ConEd steam supply,” explained CTA Architects principal Daniel J. Allen, AIA. “We also wanted the new structure to be architecturally attractive due to its visibility on a high-trafficked location within Manhattan’s popular East Village neighborhood. The front faàƒ§ade will be glazed to allow the passers-by to view the inner works of the building and equipment within,” he continued.

Haven Plaza Square commissioned CTA, which has completed many projects at Haven Plaza over the past 14 years, to perform a resiliency study shortly after Hurricane Sandy. CTA, which has significant experience in infrastructure and building services planning, organized an experienced architectural and engineering team that recommended the building of a new, dedicated heating plant for the complex, in order to eliminate the need to rely on ConEd. The team included the structural engineer Robert Silman Associates Structural Engineering; mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineer Collado Engineering; geotechnical engineer Langan; and civil engineer Cameron Engineering & Associates. The general contractor for the new building and upgrades is ICS Builders, Inc.

Design challenges have included finding the right location for the new building in order to relocate the electrical and heat/steam boiler plant within a dense urban environment. The team found and settled on an unused corner space that had no playground, green space, or benches on which to put the new structure.

There will be a below-grade tank room housing a 2,500-gallon rectangular oil tank, model AG/REC2500 by Mass Tank, with oil as a backup fuel for the steam system. The tank will be waterproofed to prevent any interruption of the system in case of a flood.

The first floor will house domestic hot water tanks and heaters, and electrical meters. Three Cleaver Brooks CB-200-60-15ST 60 boiler HP boilers rated for producing 2,070 lbs/hr of heat steam will be located on the second floor. The roof will be shallow pitch with waterproofing membrane.

“The energy-efficient lighting system will feature all LED fixtures and will include outside lighting at the base of the perimeter to highlight the building’s architecture at night. Inside, all lighting will be LED and has been configured to be not only utilitarian but to give the equipment a strong presence to passersby,” added Talbert.

Collado Engineering’s MEP design team included Principal Albert Collado, P.E., CEA; Associate and Lead Mechanical Engineer Frank J. Tierno, P.E., LEED AP; Associate and Electrical Engineer Giorgios Aspras; Associate and Plumbing and Fire Protection Engineer Kim Ward, LEED® AP; and Mechanical Engineer Andy Liu. The MEP subcontractors include City Wide Electrical Contractors, Inc.; BP Mechanical, and Tristate Plumbing.

To keep the rest of the complex safe during a flood, CTA’s plans call for upgrades to the existing structures to protect utilities and building systems. In particular, many elements of the electrical system will be elevated. Currently, many electrical components are located on the first floor of the buildings. These will be moved to higher elevations. For example, wall-mounted electrical equipment will be moved higher on the walls.  Concrete platforms will be built for the larger equipment installed on floors. All equipment will be installed at least one foot above the new FEMA flood plain.

In the townhouses, the electrical meters are currently located at a central below-grade meter room. All meters will be relocated to the new building and installed there.

Haven Plaza Square LLC, led by Nelan, is the owner of the Haven Plaza complex, including the new infrastructure building. The Association of New York Catholic Homes oversees Haven Plaza Square.

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