The R-951 project shows ultra-efficient, green construction is possible in the big city.

At the edge of the Prospect Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn, near the Barclays Center, a new development is pushing the edge of sustainability and green construction. R-951, a series of three 1,500-square-foot, open-loft style apartments that went up this spring, are some of the city’s first Passive House-certified and net-zero buildings, bringing solar-powered living to a medium-density section of New York. According to architect Paul Castrucci, “It’s important for me not to be wasteful and use more fuel for many reasons, so I’ve been designing more energy-efficient buildings. This is the most aggressive so far. With the solar array on the roof, it’s like each apartment has its own solar system.” Castrucci showed us the spacious interior, which despite its green bonafides still captures the airy, open feel normally associated with urban living.

Patrick Sisson uploaded R-951 through Add A Home.
Add your own project for the chance to be featured in Editor’s Picks.

Architect Paul Castrucci found that when designing a passive house for an urban environment, he didn’t have to take many extreme measures as long as the apartment layout was smart and strategic. Like many efficient homes of this caliber, the 13-16 inch thick walls provide serious insulation and a tight envelope.

“We estimate for a high-quality, efficient project like this, there will be a five percent premium on standard costs,” says Castrucci, who worked with Further Inc. on the project. “It’s not an extreme cost.” The kitchen includes white oak flooring, stone countertops, and Electrolux appliances.

As far as Castrucci is concerned, he’s a modern architect with a modern view of the world, and that includes sustainability and aesthetics. “Good architecture will always relate to the sun and light; that’s important,” he says. In addition, with a solar array on the roof providing about a 4.2 kilowatt system per apartment, it’s like each resident has their own utility company.

Castrucci has been trying to build something like this for a few years, and now feels his team has proof of concept. “We feel that anybody building in this area could achieve a net-zero building. This is showing what’s possible in the future for other developers.”

Castrucci has also built in a rainwater collection system that will, based on estimates, will be able to take care of just about all the irrigation and landscaping needs of the property.

An additional benefit of this kind of home construction is the quiet produced by triple-glazed window and a thick building envelope. For those wanting to escape the noise of the city, there's nothing better.

Each unit in the building was priced at roughly $1.5 million.

  • Paul Castrucci