May 1, 2010
Greening the Hamptons
Long Island's first Platinum LEED home is already helping to start up a 'little green revolution' on the East End
By CAREN CHESLER
Build it green, and they will come. That's what developers Clontarf Properties hoped when they built a multimillion-dollar, environmentally friendly house in East Hampton without a buyer on the other end.
Well, they did come. The house at 1 Palma Terrace -- the first Hamptons home to achieve a Platinum certification, the highest standard for environmental building awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council -- recently sold for $2.25 million.
"With the total square footage and the number of bedrooms and baths, it was probably 10 percent to 15 percent more than the cost of a comparable [nongreen] house," said Peter Moore, the agent at the Corcoran Group who sold the house.
The East Hampton-based Clontarf built the 3,300-square-foot home with lumber from managed forests, meaning new trees are planted every time old growth is cut down. It is also completely sealed, so there's no air infiltration, and the developer used insulation made of castor oil that contains no fiberglass. The paint has no toxins, the carpet is made of recycled plastic bottles, and the tiles come from recycled glass.
The home also has solar panels and a geothermal HVAC system where the air piped into the house is generated from water stored underground.
"It's the highest level of green building on Long Island to date, and it's 70 percent more energy efficient than a standard home," said the home's builder, Fiachra Hallissey. Hallissey estimated the utility costs at just $2,300 for the entire year.
Cormac Creed, the project's construction manager, said part of the appeal of the house is that while it's completely environmentally sound, it looks like an "old-school" East Hampton Village home.
That's a departure from the typical green house, he said. "It doesn't look like the Starship Enterprise," Creed noted. "It's kind of stealth green."
According to the building council, there are currently 712 homes in the U.S. and Canada that have received the Platinum LEED, or "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design," designation, and just six of them are in New York.
Hallissey and Creed said that if the Hamptons is any indication, the industry can expect to see more luxury LEED houses.
But it isn't easy being green. The builders said it cost about 25 percent more to construct the house than it would to build a comparable nongreen home. They hope to bring expenses down in the future -- and they'll have a chance. Clontarf is currently designing a second Platinum home -- of 5,000 to 6,000 square feet -- also on Palma Terrace. The home will also be built on spec and, according to Cormac, will have an asking price of around $3.5 to $4 million.
While buyers may not be asking for green houses specifically, when they're shown one, it can make or break a purchase.
At least, that was the case for Leah Holzman and her husband Vuk Bajovic, a finance executive. The couple purchased 1 Parma Terrace in December.
Holzman said they might have bought the home anyway, but its green features put it over the edge. She noted that they haven't realized any energy and maintenance cost savings yet, but said she expects to see some savings this summer.
Green builders said air quality for buyers with respiratory issues is one of the biggest drivers of green construction.
"Allergies are the strongest motivator for families to buy or build eco-friendly homes," said Susan Singer, an "eco-broker" who was certified by the Association of Energy and Environmental Real Estate Professionals and works for Corcoran in Manhattan.
Creed said other developers have already expressed interest in building green in the Hamptons. "When the other developers heard about [the house], some came by to see it and said, 'Wow, you guys are nuts.' Now they're actually starting to use solar panels and geothermal," Creed said. "A little green revolution is taking place in the Hamptons."
Indeed, Manhattan-based New World Home, whose 18th-century Sullivan County farmhouse renovation was the first Platinum-certified home in New York State, is currently awaiting certification of a home it built in East Hampton.
The firm, which unlike Clontarf avoids solar panels because it believes they are not the best way to achieve energy efficiency, said the home would cost between $180 and $200 a square foot to build, but declined to say how big the home would be. It is aiming for Gold LEED certification.
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