Building Performance and Midtown Rezoning–an (Un)Modern Proposal

The recently released Terrapin Bright Green Midcentury (Un)Modern study (Terrapin study) contrasts the costs and benefits of retrofitting single-glazed post-modern NYC buildings against demolition and replacement with new, ultra-energy efficient buildings makes for compelling reading for anyone interested in urban planning, real estate development, building performance or historic preservation.   At first glance, the study conclusions seem to support Department of City Planning’s (DCP) mid-town east rezoning proposal, but careful reading indicates that the study’s conclusions do not align with or constitute an underlying rationale to support rezoning.  The Terrapin study relates solely to the energy efficiency of a narrow band of Midtown Manhattan’s buildings—fewer than 107 single-glazed office buildings constructed between 1958 and 1974 – and not the 300 “older” buildings that the City wishes to phase out through changed zoning.

Do not fall prey to misinterpretations of the Terrapin report that suggest that wholesale demolition of “older” buildings can be justified on the basis of energy performance. We might just well end up being like Singapore and pay a price in quality of life, a reduction in diversity of richness of building stock and an increased carbon footprint. Read On…

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