The Solar 2 Net-Zero Energy and Water Building

The New York City Council has awarded $1.25 million to the construction of the City’s first net-zero energy and net-zero water building, Solar 2.

Solar One, a NYC nonprofit that provides public programs on energy efficiency and renewable energy in the built environment, will expand its operations into the LEED-Platinum building once it’s built.

The building will serve as a destination for cutting-edge environment exhibits and public activities, and provide classroom space and learning tools for Solar One’s K-12 environmental educational programs. It will also add a reconstructed native wetland exhibit to Stuyvesant Cove Park.
It’s expected to host over 100,000 visitors in the first year alone.

The grant is in addition to the $6.1 million raised to date to meet the $10 million necessary to commence construction.

Located on the East River at 23rd Street, the 13,000 square foot building will feature the most advanced sustainable engineering and design, resulting in net-zero water and energy use, sending power back to the grid.

Here are some of the features:

  • Geothermal heating
  • Water reclamation system
  • NYC’s first outdoor Green Theater with a solar-powered stage
  • A green roof and vegetative green screen that will reduce heating and cooling in the building and filter carbon dioxide and other harmful pollutants out of the air
  • Recycled and renewable materials used in the building structure and interior furnishings

The building will also feature cutaways and transparent walls to provide visitors a unique, rare glimpse into the HVAC and geo-exchange systems.

Additionally, visitors will enjoy Eco-Apartment/Office, with energy-saving and sustainable products, equipment and additional resources, and an Eco-Café with natural, fair trade, locally grown food served on recycled and sustainable place settings. The café will also offer produce grown in Solar 2’s vertically integrated hydroponic greenhouse and will operate seasonally on the roof, providing dramatic views of the East River and beyond.

Solar 2 will also present a unique opportunity to study how a heavily trafficked building impacts its energy efficiency, and Solar One will work with researchers and engineers to gather data to deepen our understanding of how to best design a very populated building for reduced energy use.

“This award is humbling given the current economy and overall cutbacks to non-profit funding, says Christopher Collins, Executive Director of Solar One.

Solar One’s programs include:

  • The Green Design LabTM, a standards-based, K-12 environmental education program in collaboration with the NYC Department of Education.
  • Enrichment and professional development programs for approximately 100 NYC public schools per year.
  • The Green Workforce Training Program, featuring nine tracks of green job training, such as solar PV system installation, weatherization, and energy auditing, held in collaboration with 20 NYC workforce agencies and technical schools.
  • Free community outreach and public workshops such as “Green Renter” and “Intro To Green for Building Operators & Supers,” held in collaboration with dozens of local community organizations.
  • A summer-long Green Energy Arts Festival celebrating the relationship between cultural innovation and environmental sustainability.

Learn more:


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