Property Damage & Disaster Restoration Blog: Long Island & New York City

Rebuilding Long Island After Hurricane Sandy by Vince Capogna

Posted on Sat, Dec 08, 2012 @ 08:08 AM
The Long Island Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC-LI) has long upheld that it’s not about buildings… it’s about people. We believe that buildings have a profound effect on the lives of the people that live, work and play in them. As advocates for ‘green building,’ most of our work has been focused on energy efficient and environmentally responsible building. Green building, as we define it holistically, considers not just the structure, but the entire infrastructure as well. Accordingly, we bring into the conversation issues pertaining to the larger goals of sustainability and resilience as relating to location, transportation, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction. Resilience is the measure of a system to buffer negative climate effects while main-taining its structure and function (IPCC 2007). While every effort must be made to pinpoint and address weakness, it will never be possible to eliminate all potential vulnerability. Green building must therefore incorporate strategies that both foster sustainability and enable resilience in the wake of inevitable future climactic impact.

Planning for climate variation and potential natural disasters by increasing the adaptive capacity of a system invariably involves a measure of uncertainty. Had any ‘panel discussion’ prior to October 29th attempted to pinpoint Long Island’s vulnerability and need, it would have engendered as many divided opinions as panelists. Both the areas of susceptibility and the level of vulnerability would have been cause for countless additional meetings. For her part, Hurricane Sandy has rendered the need for any such debate moot. Sandy found those vulnerabilities and exposed them for all to see and bear. If there can be any silver lining, it may be that we can catalog the scope and nature of the vulnerabilities across all sectors (residential and commercial buildings, transportation, commerce, etc.) with great accuracy. If there is to be any hope that such future disaster can be mitigated, it lies in our ability to respond in a manner that is measured not by reacting consistent with past behavior but instead one that is measured directly against that which Sandy has presented us, to the extent possible. Responding at this moment assum-ing that the future will be similar to the past would be unconscionable. Blindly fol-lowing past standards, codes or practices is not the answer.

Sandy has devastated hundreds of homes because those houses our neighbors called home were no match for her wrath. Unfortunately, a study this past February co-authored by noted MIT climate scientist Kerry Emanuel suggests that the combined effects of climatology change as relating to storms may cause the present NYC 100-yr surge flooding to occur every 3-20 years. Storm surges are responsible for much of the damage and loss of life associated with landfalling hurricanes. Where houses were destroyed or will be cause for demolition, they should be rebuilt in a manner that considers and addresses the level of destructive forces in-flicted on them. The response must be proportionate.

It’s not about buildings… it’s about people – our families, our friends and our neighbors.

Vince Capogna
Executive Director
U.S. Green Building Council - Long Island Chapter

Tags: rebuilding long island, hurricane sandy, usgbc, long island, green building, hurricane damage, usgbc-li, vince capogna

Green Building: Eco-Conscious Passive Houses Hit Brooklyn

Posted on Fri, May 04, 2012 @ 09:04 AM

New York Observer,green building,Eco-Conscious Passive Houses Aggressively Hit Brooklyn

By Kim Velsey 

The most exceptional thing about the house at 96 St. Marks Avenue is that it doesn’t look exceptional at all. It’s just another redbrick townhouse on a street chock-a-block with redbrick townhouses in a borough crammed with townhouse-lined streets.

However, the Prospect Heights house is the the city’s first multi-unit building to be built, or in this case retrofitted, to meet the über-stringent environmental standards developed by the German-based Passive House Institute (among other things, the house must maintain a comfortable indoor temperature without really using active heating or cooling systems, reducing the house’s energy consumption by 90 percent).

Having never seen a passive house before, The Observer expected at least some clunky sign of the building’s conversion when we visited the still under-construction home a few weeks ago. But, no. No weird metal ducts or shiny solar panels. Did the future of green building really look so much like the past?

Well, yes, developer Brendan Aguayo said, which was kind of the beauty of the whole concept. Any house can be built as a passive house, and any house can become a passive house. (No geodesic dome was this!) Passive houses are all a matter of insulation and ventilation. A lot of insulation, to be fair—triple-paned windows, six inches of cellulose blown into the walls, plastic sheeting, and multiple layers of a waterproofing/air barrier compound called Sto Gold painted on the walls—but still, nothing super fancy or particularly newfangled.

“It’s basically good building practices done to the extreme,” said Mr. Aguayo, who gave TheObserver a sneak-peak of the soon-to-hit-the-market condos (the building will have three two-bedroom units measuring 825-square-feet and a 1,400-square foot duplex on the first floor).

The general principle behind passive is to make the building airtight—”a bubble, or a thermos,” as Mr. Aguayo put it—with a ventilation system constantly filtering the home’s air, passing fresh air through heat trapped in the kitchens and bathrooms.

“Some people have this misconception—‘I can’t open a window’ or ‘I’m going to die of CO2 poisoning,’” Mr. Aguayo said, unlatching one of the windows with a chuckle. Besides windows that open, the house also has heaters and air conditions (even if residents aren’t really expected to need them) and fireplaces? in every unit.

What charming relics of the home’s former heating technologies, we mused. Were they functional?

Wrong on both counts. They were, in fact, brand new faux fireplaces.

“I liked the idea of it—something different to look at,” said Mr. Aguayo. He shrugged. “I guess we’re letting them know that they never need to use a fireplace.”

Basically, the only thing you won’t see in a passive house is exposed brick. (“Very, very cold, you’re going to lose a lot of energy that way,” said Mr. Aguayo, confirming what we know to be true from visits to many hip but chilly apartments).

The Passivhaus Institut, which administers the passive house standard, estimates that there are about 32,000 passive houses worldwide. They have become increasingly popular in Europe but are still something of a rarity in the U.S., with less than 20 houses certified, and only a handful in New York.

Inside 96 St. Marks, workers were coming to the end of a year-long retrofit, painting and sanding. Each unit had white walls, wooden floors, high ceilings,  generous windows, expensive-looking coppery bathroom fixtures and peek-a-boo style flaps and doors that revealed glimpses of the labyrinth of ventilation ducts running through the house (the ventilation system has several settings, including “boost” mode for events like parties, which can become stuffy in a sealed house).

Although Mr. Aguayo has long been involved with construction projects through his family’s business, 96 St. Marks is his first as developer (he’s working with development partner Martin Handler). It’s also his first passive house.

“I got this building at a price I felt comfortable doing a trial run with passive,” said Mr. Aguayo. Purchased for a little under $1 million, he estimated that gut renovating the building as a passive house has cost about 10 percent more than a normal gut renovation (The windows are one of the most expensive items. Mr. Aguayo said that the windows for 96 St. Marks cost $60,000, whereas fairly high-end windows on a normal conversion would have cost about $18,000). Pricing on the units has yet to be determined, but Mr. Aguayo said that he’s had a lot of interest.

“And even if someone hated passive houses, at least they get a nice condo in a good location.”

Mr. Aguayo admitted that the first retrofit process had involved something of a steep learning curve—sealing up the home’s air barrier is particularly vexing—but he’s already planning a new passive project in Park Slope. Given the neighborhood’s history of lifestyle one-upmanship, it’s hard to see how such a project would be anything but wildly popular.

On the next project he’ll also have a connection for hard-to-find construction materials.  Ken Levenson, the architect on the 96 St. Marks renovation, is so enthusiastic that he’s now remaking himself as an importer of specialty passive house construction materials.

“People are already realizing technology has been proved in Europe and it has a track record so we’re not reinventing the wheel,” Mr. Levenson said in a phone interview with the Observer. It’s a low risk proposition once the clients think through it, that they come to the realization that it would be kind of crazy not to do. You’re either going to be one of the first houses of the future or one last houses of the past.”

But what is it actually like to live in a passive house? Does one miss drafty corridors or clanking radiators?

“Not at all” said Elsie Kagan who renovated a Park Slope rowhouse to passive house standards a few years ago. It didn’t quite pass the test, but Ms. Kagan and her husband aren’t terribly upset. Their house is still incredibly efficient and they were spending less on heating and cooling than they spent on the electric bill at their old place.

“The weird thing about the house is you don’t notice it most of the time,” said Ms. Kagan. “The only difference is that it’s very quiet. We don’t hear almost any street noise. Suddenly we’ll have the window open and we’ll think ‘Why can we hear everything all of a sudden?’”

She paused, seeing if any other differences leaped to mind. She came up short.

“We blend in, we totally blend. We just have a little thicker walls and windows.”


Tags: green building, brooklyn, retrofitted, new york, eco-concsious, passive house

Town of Babylon to Compete In Global Green Challenge

Posted on Sun, May 02, 2010 @ 03:28 PM


The town of Babylon, NY (a Long Island suburb of New York City) has been chosen to participate in a prestigious Global Green Competition organized by Sir Richard Branson.

The town is one of 15 municipalities worldwide chosen in the first wave the Carbon War Room’s Green Capital Global Challenge. The Carbon War Room is a non-profit organization aimed at identifying opportunities to cut costs and carbon emissions. It was co-founded by the Virgin Group’s Branson and six other entrepreneurs.

The challenge is a two-year program seeking to boost capital and resources into city-led efficiency initiatives. Babylon was chosen due to the popularity of its Long Island Green Homes program, which provides low-interest loans to town homeowners who wish to make their houses more energy efficient. The program has been used an example for other municipalities to follow.

Along with Babylon, participant cities include Atlanta; Burlington, Vt.; Charleston, S.C.; Chicago; Gainesville, Fla., New York City; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco, Washington, D.C.; Toronto; Vancouver, B.C., Canada; London; Birmingham, England; and Copenhagen, Denmark.

The competition is aimed at driving the cities to find ways to reduce energy costs, create green jobs and improve the quality of life for their residents.

“In this time of uncertainty around the ability to resolve our governments to lead the planet to low-carbon prosperity, it is up to businesses and cities to step up and assume responsibility,” Branson said in a statement. “Mayors are the entrepreneurs of the civic world who realize their pivotal role in the fight against climate change.”

The challenged kicked off at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and will run until the summer of 2012. Results will be announced then in London, home of the 2012 Summer Olympics. A second wave of cities will also be named by the end of this year.

Babylon town officials said they were psyched to be able to participate in a program along with such big cities like London, Copenhagen and New York City.

“Working with Carbon War Room, we will establish program discipline, uniform loan products and demand drivers that will result in unprecedented market penetration of energy efficiency,” Babylon Town Supervisor Steve Bellone said. “To be doing this in the company of larger cities, like our neighbor New York, will be a major game changer.”

by Michael H. Samuels LI Business News
Published: April 28, 2010

Tags: long island, dki, green, green building, town of babylon, long island green homes program, advanced restoration corporation, green construction, go green, town of babylon long island green homes program

The ReUse People (TRP), Long Island Building Deconstruction, and Advanced Restoration Corporation

Posted on Fri, Apr 16, 2010 @ 08:14 PM

Advanced Restoration Corporation is proud to partner with The Reuse People (TRP) on all our Building Deconstruction projects to make the Long Island Community the Leader in Building Deconstruction and Building Material Reuse in New York and throughout the country.

By partnering with us, The ReUse People are able to expand into the Long Island market to promote Building Deconstruction and the salvage and sale of reusable building materials while diverting construction and demolition (C&D) waste from our overburdened landfills.

These services are among the first steps in the green building process. Furthermore, tax-deductible donations of reusable materials to TRP, a nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation, provide a faster payback and better return-on-investment than any other product or service offered by the green building industry on Long Island.

How The ReUse People (TRP) Started

The ReUse People (TRP) started in April, 1993, with a drive for building materials to help the flood victims in Tijuana, Mexico. The drive, Project Valle Verde, was planned and coordinated with the mayors of Tijuana and San Diego, the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, the County Board of Supervisors, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, Waste Management, and the Building Industry Association.
On April 23 and 24, contractors, other private companies, public agencies and the citizens of San Diego donated over 400 tons of building materials valued at $1.2 million. Twenty-seven tractor trailers crossed the border carrying this material in an unprecedented demonstration of bi-national cooperation and assistance.
The success of Project Valle Verde demonstrated the need for used building materials and the impact of this need on our already overused and over committed landfills.
The ReUse People started as Building Materials Distributors in San Diego in 1993 and, due to a name conflict with an existing corporation, the name was soon changed to The ReUse People.

Who Benefits from Our Partnership On Long Island?

  • All of us through a better environment on Long Island
  • Low income families who cannot afford to buy new building materials
  • Building deconstruction can also lead to the creation of new jobs and businesses
  • Building owners by virtue of tax donations
  • Architects, builders and contractors through better service to their clients
  • Reduced unemployment strengthens the Long Island economy directly as well as indirectly in areas such as retail sales and housing

While we obtain reusable building materials from a variety of sources, our own deconstruction efforts and those of over 30 TRP-Certified Deconstruction Contractors throughout the country contribute over 90 percent of them.
Whether you are an architect, general building contractor, building owner, or government agency on Long Island we stand ready to provide you with a package of benefits including:

  • Environmentally sound demolition (We like the words building deconstruction)
  • Building materials salvage
  • Advanced Restoration Corporation's skilled building deconstruction technicians
  • Tax donations for all the materials donated to The ReUse People (TRP)
  • Lower overall project costs
  • The assurance that someone, somewhere reuses the salvageable building materials generated from your project(s) on Long Island


The ReUse People (TRP) President - Ted Reiff


Prior to founding The ReUse People (TRP) in 1995, Ted Reiff was managing partner with an investment banking firm that provided financial services to young technology companies. Now, in addition to guiding TRP's national expansion program, he consults with private companies and government bodies on a variety of demolition and waste diversion projects. A graduate of Ohio State University and a licensed demolition contractor, Ted served three terms as board president of I Love a Clean San Diego and is an advisor to Urban Habitat Chicago.


The ReUse People (TRP) Long Island Regional Manager - Mike Yurish

Mike holds a B.S. degree in environmental science from SUNY Purchase, New York, and has been an amateur deconstructionist for some 20 years. He serves on the board of directors of the ReCONNstruction Center in New Britain, Connecticut, and is a licensed realtor and appraisal trainee in New Jersey. A resident of Connecticut, Mike currently works as a senior print technician for a major printing company.  

Advanced Restoration Corporation - Eric Martin


Eric Martin has been in the family business for over 16 years.  He is certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC) in Water Damage Mitigation and Advanced Structural Drying as well as holding his certification by the Restoration Industry Association (RIA) in Mold Remediation.  Eric has worked in New York City for 8 months after 9/11 cleaning up the building surrounding Ground Zero.  He also worked in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.    A Green Risk Professional from Vale Training Institute he is also a member of the Communications Committee from the U.S. Green Building Council's Long Island (USGBC-LI) chapter in charge of handling USGBC-LI's social media accounts.


Advanced Restoration Corporation is proud to partner with The Reuse People (TRP) on all our Building Deconstruction projects to make the Long Island Community the Leader in Building Deconstruction and Building Material Reuse in New York and throughout the country.

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Possible Long Island Economic Benefits of Building Deconstruction

Posted on Tue, Feb 09, 2010 @ 08:49 PM

The economic benefits of deconstruction are substantial.  One of the biggest challenges to "greening" businesses is overcoming the false perception that environmentally-sound business practices necessarily will increase costs and decrease profits. Building deconstruction is helping break that myth. 

Old buildings on Long Island are an untapped valuable resource.  When a building is no longer fit for use and has to come down, does this happen just as all of its parts and components wear out?  Most old buildings have some systems and materials with useful lives.  The trick is efficiently identifying the materials and getting them out of the building.  When redeveloping a Long Island property, it is difficult to see the old buildings as anything but obstacles. Also, it is important to consider whether their contents and/or components may actually be resources that have net value.

You can get a tax deduction.  The reusable waste from your project could be worth a significant tax write-off.  You can donate your salvaged building materials to numerous not-for-profit organizations on Long Island and receive a tax-deductible receipt to help offset the higher labor costs that building deconstruction requires (versus demolition).  Advanced Restoration Corp. provides all of our clients with a detailed photo-documented inventory of salvaged materials for tax purposes. 

Building deconstruction reduces overall project costs.  Buildings can be deconstructed more cheaply than they can be demolished.  Building deconstruction reduces the cost of waste disposal.  For every ton of material diverted from a landfill, there is one less ton of disposal costs. To the extent deconstructed materials can be incorporated into a new building or space on the same site, the savings are two-fold-reduced disposal costs and new material costs.

Tags: economic benefits, green, green building, advanced restoration corporation, building deconstruction, building deconstruction long island, economic benefits of building deconstruction, green construction, build green, sustainable practices, c & d waste, tax donation

Deconstructing Long Island's Construction & Demolition Waste

Posted on Fri, Feb 05, 2010 @ 12:57 PM

When buildings reach the end of their useful life, they are typically demolished and hauled to landfills.  Building implosions or ‘wrecking-ball' style demolitions are relatively inexpensive and offer a quick method of clearing sites for new structures. On the other hand, these methods create substantial amounts of waste. 

The demolition and renovation of buildings in the U.S. produces 124,670,000 tons of debris each year, according to the Deconstruction Institute. That's an awful lot when you consider that just one 2,000-square-foot wood-frame home has the potential to yield 6,000-board-feet of reusable lumber or about 85 percent of the wood framing.  That house, demolished and sent to a landfill, amounts to about 127 tons of trashed materials or about 10,000 cubic feet of debris.  This is equivalent to 33 mature trees, or the yearly output of 10 acres of planted pine (7 football fields).  Wood frame houses are good examples, since 95 percent of all houses are built that way.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 270,000 residential units are demolished in the U.S annually.  Much of that demolition debris goes into landfills.  In this country, according the EPA, building debris (in total, not just from residential units) accounts for one-third of all solid waste, and an estimated 91 percent of that comes from renovation and demolition.  We can estimate that for every 3 square feet of deconstruction, enough lumber can be salvaged to build 1 square foot of new construction. At this rate, if deconstruction replaced residential demolition, the US could generate enough recovered wood to construct 120,000 new affordable homes each year.

Some states, including California and Massachusetts, are enacting bans, taking steps to divert up to 60% of the construction waste from landfills.  In Chicago, the city has ordinances which require almost half of the construction debris be diverted from landfills.  Thanks to some forward-thinking insurance companies who now offer a "green" policy, coverage for recycling and deconstruction costs are now a reality on some insurance policies.

Construction & Debris (C & D) Waste Facts

In 1978, there were approximately 20,000 landfills. By 1988, that number had dropped to 5,499. Currently the figure stands at 3,091. The EPA estimates that as of the 2008, only 1,234 landfills were available. 

Only 3 active landfills on Long Island as of 2009.

All landfills will eventually fail and leak leachate into ground and surface water. Plastics are not inert. State-of-the-art plastic (HDPE) landfill liners (1/10 inch or 100 mils thick) and plastic pipes allow chemicals and gases to pass through their membranes, become brittle, swell, and breakdown. 

"...82% of surveyed landfill cells had leaks while 41% had a leak area of more than 1 square feet," according to Leak Location Services, Inc. (LLSI) website (March 15, 2000).

All landfills could require remediation, but particularly landfills built in the last 60 years will require a thorough clean-up due to the disposal of highly toxic chemicals manufactured and sold since the 1940's.

The U.S. generated 143.5 million tons of building-related construction and demolition debris in 2008, but only 28% (40.2 million tons) was reused, recycled or sent to waste-to-energy facilities.

Consider that one year's debris is enough to build a wall about 30 feet high and 30 feet thick around the entire coast of the continental United States (4,993 miles).

How much do your building projects impact these numbers? Consider the following:

  • The average new construction project yields 3.9 pounds of waste per square foot of building area. Example: A 50,000-square-foot building = 97.5 tons of waste.
  • The average building demolition yields 155 pounds of waste per square foot. Example:A 50,000-square-foot building = 3,875 tons of waste.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, a typical 2,200 sq.ft. home requires 13,000 board feet of framing lumber.  If laid end to end, that framing lumber would stretch 2.5 miles.

If all the dimensional lumber used to build the 1.2 million new homes constructed in the United State each year were laid end to end, it would extend 3 million miles, the equivalent of going to the moon and back six and a half times.


Tags: long island green homes, long island, green building, demolition waste, construction and demolition waste, waste, advanced restoration, advanced restoration corporation, environment, building deconstruction, building deconstruction long island, green construction, build green, sustainable practices, c & d waste

Building Deconstruction On Long Island

Posted on Thu, Feb 04, 2010 @ 09:15 PM

What Is Building Deconstruction?

Building deconstruction is the systematic dismantlement of building materials and building components, specifically for re-use, recycling, and waste management.  It differs from demolition where a site is cleared of its building materials by the most expedient means and a majority of the demolished materials are hauled to a landfill for disposal. 

Building deconstruction is also referred to as "construction in reverse" or "Last On, First Off (LOFO) Construction".  Deconstruction is new by name, but not by practice, as the recovery and reuse of materials in order to build new structures is as old as buildings themselves. Reuse of materials might be considered one of the "original" green building techniques, along with the use of local materials.

In the pre-industrial era, building material conservation was driven by the high intensity of the labor effort required to harvest and prepare them. Reuse of materials provided an economic advantage. In the mid-to-late 20th century, the emergence of machine-made and mass-produced materials, chemically complicated materials, and the relatively low cost of oil allowed this basic idea of "waste not, want not" to fall from usage in the creation of built environment. 

Buildings, like everything, have a life-cycle. Deconstruction focuses on giving the building materials within a building a new life once the building as a whole can no longer continue.

Building materials and components within old buildings may still be valuable, sometimes more valuable than at the time the building was constructed.  Deconstruction is a method of harvesting what is commonly considered "waste" and reclaiming it into useful building material.  In the process, Advanced Restoration Corp. seeks to recycle or reclaim for re-use a majority of the structure, save the property owner expensive debris hauling and disposal costs, and enable the donors to earn a significant tax deduction for their donations.

For More Information Please Visit Our Other Web Pages:

Deconstruction: The 1st Phase In Sustainable Building

Deconstructing Construction and Demolition (C & D) Waste

Long Island's Economic Benefits of Building Deconstruction

Long Island's Environmental Benefits of Building Deconstruction

Long Island's Social and Community Benefits




Tags: long island green homes, long island, green, green building, advanced restoration, advanced restoration corporation, environment, building deconstruction, building deconstruction long island, green construction, build green, sustainable practices

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