Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Green Developer Takes Advantage of Nat’l Grid Rebates

Sometimes a little goes a long way. For developer Seth Brown, of Aspen Equities, that’s definitely the case.

His new residential project in Prospect Heights, dubbed “Sterling Green,” is “a seriously green project,” he said. And while there weren’t a ton of green incentives available to him during construction, he took advantage of two rebates from National Grid.

Among the eco-friendly features of Sterling Green — which is at 580 Sterling Place — are low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, energy-efficient windows with low-E (low-emissivity) glass, energy-efficient lighting in kitchens and bathrooms, and dual-flush toilets.

But Brown got rebates for tankless gas hot-water heaters, which heat water only as needed, and standard programmable thermostats, which can be set for lower temperatures when the condos are unoccupied.

The tankless water heaters originally cost $800. National Grid gave Brown a $300 rebate for each unit installed in the eight condo, five-story building.

The programmable thermostats, which cost between $25 and $50 originally garnered him a $25 rebate for each one.

Because of the venting process required for the water heaters, the rebate doesn’t cover a lot of the cost, but “it’s certainly something,” said Brown.

But he spoke very highly of the thermostats. He calls the installation of a programmable thermostat “one of the cheapest and smartest ways to save money — it’s super easy.” He explained that anyone can put one in at their own home.

“If you’re going to do just one thing, it’s probably the best thing you could do,” he said.

Brown, a Park Slope resident for three years, said he has been concerned about the environment for some time, particularly about building green in urban environments.

A graduate of Yale, where he majored in urban history and got his MBA, he is also the founder and a current board member of Next American magazine, a non-profit environmental organization.

Brown, who got his start in real estate development working for The Hudson Companies and the LeFrak Organization, said he now spends 90 percent of his time as a developer and the rest of his time “more on the idea side of things — thinking green and thinking urban.”

This is his first independent Brooklyn project, although he has plans in the works for a two-family green townhouse in Park Slope

The eight condos include alcove studios and large one-bedroom duplexes. Prices start at $299,000 for a studio and go up to $475,000 for the largest duplex. Brown estimates that the project will be fully completed in about eight weeks with closings and move-ins anticipated for early summer.

Co-written by Linda Collins
Image courtesy of Apsen Equities