Four New, "Green" Skyscrapers in New York City
Midtown Manhattan, West Side - February, 2011
If you’re like me, “eco-friendly”, “green”, and “sustainable-living” are just catch phrases for the new millenium. They will soon die out in favor of whatever new hip thing comes along.

But they’re not. There’s a new paradigm behind the rage. Part of it may be driven by money (althought it’s primarily “saving” money instead of “making” money) but a larger part of it is in going in accordance with (to borrow the late Douglas Adams’ title for a book) life, the universe, and everything.

Life, as we know it, is a system. It is not contained within, say, a living thing. We may call an organism “alive” but without inert objects around it like air and sunlight it would not survive.

All living things are made up of cells. The cell, when you think about it, makes the smallest chemical demands from its enivronment. It takes in nutrients no more than what it needs to continuously produce, repair, and perpetuate itself. It then gives back to the environment what it doesn’t need in the form of waste that it may be used for something else.

As living things we could perhaps follow the example of our own cells. We need not want so much from our environment, any more than what we need to sustain us. "Sustainable living" may be all we should aim for.

For billions of years recycling has been the way of the Universe. Nothing is wasted. Energy is transformed into matter and matter into energy. Waste created by one is consumed by another. Industrialization which for centuries has run rampant without regard for “Gaia” is now changing. We are now becoming aware that we are part of a network that some people call “the web of life”. Little by little, excess is being pushed away from our minds and in its place "save the environment" might become the catchphrase that will be here to stay.

From thereon, it ought not require a leap of imagination to extend things a bit further and accede to the notion -- what ancient sages and modern activists have been saying all along -- that we are really all just one.

(source: "The Hidden Connections" (2002) by Fritjof Capra)

Click on a picture to enlarge.
The term
Bank of America Tower on 6th and 42nd is the 2nd tallest building in NYC. Completed in 2008 is the country's greenest high-rise building. Air vented by the building
The New York Times Building on 41st and 8th is tied with the Chrysler building for the 3rd tallest building in NYC. Completed in 2007, the building’s horizontal ceramic rods “act as a sunshade, sufficient in number to block half of the sun’s energy” while harvesting “natural light so that electric lighting is used just as a supplement”. It has a “very advanced dimmable lighting system and a dynamic shading system with real energy savings of well over 50%.”
Eleven Times Square on 42nd and 8th was the last one completed in 2009 so that may be why it's not yet listed in New York City's tallest skyscrapers. As you can see from this picture, it's nearly as tall as the New York Times building beside it. The building's efficient glass curtain wall “affords benefits in reducing heat gain, minimizing thermal loss and decreasing heating, cooling and overall utility costs” (source: “75% of the space will be naturally lit” (source: Times Square Alliance). The building is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certifified.
“Imagine a building like a kind of tree. It would purify air, accrue solar income, produce more energy than it consumes, create shade and habitat, enrich soil, and change with the seasons. Imagine a building like a tree. A city like a forest.“

-- William McDonough and Michael Braungart, “Cradle to Cradle” (2002)

The green-colored building on the left isn’t “green”. It was bought and renovated by Equity Properties from Verizon. Word has it that Equity (now owned by Blackstone Group) is having problems filling the building with tenants. The reason cited is that its was renovated at a time of recession. The building on its right, the Bank of America Tower, however, doesn’t seem to share that problem. Savings passed on by the building’s “green” design to its tenants may well be one of the reasons. If so, then being “green” also makes economical sense. That can only be good for New York City -- and the world. (source:
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