Building Green in the City

New Yorker's home is nation's first eco high-rise

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

Michael Gubbins is an expert on the topic of earth-friendly living. In fact, Gubbins is the resident manager of The Solaire, a 27-story building in New York City that is the country's first environmentally sustainable residential high-rise.

"We operate the building in a way that it least affects the environment," Gubbins told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps in a recent interview. "We recycle water and generate some of our own power. We also hold lobby events that support sustainable initiatives."

The Solaire is located in downtown Manhattan. Residents have access to on-demand hybrid rental cars, public transportation, bicycle parking, and charging stations for electric vehicles. Native plants cover 75 per cent of the roof.

The building also uses recycled wastewater for its cooling tower, low-flow toilets, and landscape irrigation. Demand for water has decreased by 50 per cent using these measures!

"Green buildings make it easy to recycle garbage," Gubbins said. "This encourages tenants to do the right thing. ‘Green' buildings also take recycling to the next step, offering on-site battery recycling and clothing recycling."

Energy use in the building has been cut by 35 per cent thanks to dimming fluorescent lights and special windows. Five per cent of the building's energy comes from the sun, while 60 per cent of the building materials used in construction are from recycled products.

The Solaire is not alone as an environmental innovator in the nation's largest urban center. New York City is a leader in eco-friendly initiatives, according to Gubbins.

"In our community, lots of local businesses promote sustainable services and act in a sustainable manner," he said "They understand how important it is to us as residents."


Celebrate 40 years of Earth Day and the fight to keep our planet clean on April 22. Scholastic Kid Reporters explore ways to make every day Earth Day in the Earth Day @ 40 Special Report.


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  • Subjects:
    Environmental Conservation and Preservation, Habitats and Ecosystems, Natural Resources, Earth Day

Scholastic Kids Press Corps

The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of 32 student reporters who report "news for kids, by kids." Sports, politics, and entertainment are among the topics they cover.