Forget Washington, D.C., and California: The market that’s making multifamily history right now is New Haven, Conn., where Fairfield, Conn.-based green architecture and development firm Becker + Becker installed a $4 million fuel cell this month that will power 360 State Street, a 500-unit mixed-use, mixed-income apartment community that has been the first project approved for Platinum rating under the U.S Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) pilot program.
The 400 kilowatt fuel cell—which removes electrons from hydrogen molecules present in natural gas to create electricity—will provide combustion-free power to the 500 residential units, common areas, and retail spaces within the building, as well as provide thermal energy for space heating, hot water heating, and heating the swimming pool. Becker + Becker shouldered half of the cost for the purchase and the June 7 installation of the fuel cell by UTC Energy, while a grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund took care of the rest of the bill.
“On-site fuel cell technology represents the future of electricity generation in this country,” says Becker + Becker president Bruce Becker, who expects a full ROI payback on the fuel cell in only five-and-a-half years. “Traditionally, large-capacity fuel cells are utilized at schools, hospitals, and other energy-intensive facilities, but multifamily residential buildings represent a perfect, uncultivated opportunity for fuel cell technology because of their ability to continually utilize the fuel cell’s process heat in the form of hot water and space heating demand.”
In addition to the fuel cell, the transit-oriented nature of 360 State Street, real-time public disclosure of energy usage, and a green roof have contributed to the property being named the first multifamily, Platinum-certified LEED-ND plan for exemplifying the principles of smart growth, urbanism, and green design. “LEED-ND strives to look at how development contributes and impacts the neighborhood,” says Becker + Becker associate Michelle Lauterwasser. “So LEED-ND is considering things such as whether the plan is an urban infill location, whether it is located near transportation, its walkability and access to open space, but it also looks at the actual building energy-efficiency.”
To that end, 360 State Street will be disclosing all energy usage in real time via the community’s website, which has yet to launch. “Residents will have exclusive access to their information, but we will give a public view of the average use of energy in the building and the real time energy efficiency of the fuel cell and how the thermal energy is deployed also,” Lauterwasser says. The application of the fuel cell at 360 State Street is estimated to reduce the building’s carbon emissions by 790 metric tons annually.
360 State Street will be managed by Greenbelt, Md.-based Bozzuto Management Co., and reservations for units are now being accepted with move-ins expected by August. The 25-story tower sits atop a four-story parking garage and ground-floor retail with plans to include a full-service grocery store, bike shop, day care center, and office space. In-building amenities include a fitness center and library, and the property is located adjacent to the State Street train station, just blocks from Yale University.
“360 State Street is exactly the type of community we love to manage. It is smart growth, sustainable design, and mixed-income housing at its best,” says Bozzuto Management Co. president Julie Smith. “Becker + Becker’s vision of revitalizing an underutilized site in a prime downtown location into the greenest residential building in Connecticut has really resonated with residents. As expected, the leasing pace has been phenomenal.”