New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

HABITAT

FINANCIAL DISTRICT

Certainly, 55 Liberty Street is a beautiful building – the base of the roof on the 28th floor is adorned with a menagerie of massive masonry eagles, lions, alligators, fish, gnomes, and assorted flora – but that beauty can quickly turn deadly. That was the case in 1993 when chunks of terra cotta broke loose from the skin of the 32-story, 80-unit co-op and plunged to the crowded sidewalk below.

Designed by Henry Ives Cobb, the free-standing terra-cotta structure was the tallest building in the world when it opened its doors in 1909. It served as offices for Sinclair Oil and other businesses until 1979, when it was converted to residential living. Two years later, it became a co-op. Now it is dealing with capital challenges, safety, and the ever-present memory of the past.

All too often, when co-op / condo boards and other buildings owners decide to go green, the first thing they want to do is install solar panels. But it doesn't matter how many solar panels are on a roof if the electricity they generate is wasted somewhere else in a building. Which makes more sense? Spending thousands of dollars on solar panels to keep lights on 24 hours a day, or having a green super implement strategies for efficient lighting and lighting controls?

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