Joathan Rose Cos.

Developing sustainable, affordable multifamily projects isn’t just politically correct, it’s essential for obtaining financing, managing long-term costs, and maintaining the health of the residents, according to the developers of The Fortune Academy Complex, a $42 million project set to open in West Harlem, N.Y., in June 2010. “If you can make small incremental improvements up front, it’s particularly worth it for affordable housing,” says Paul Freitag, director of real estate for New York City-based developer Jonathan Rose Cos. “We select those green elements that are going to perform the best and have the greatest impact.”

The 114-unit, 110,000-square-foot project is being developed with New York City-based The Fortune Society, which helps formerly incarcerated people re-enter their communities. The development is located next to an existing project of the same name that provides transitional housing for those just released from prison.

The Academy, designed by Curtis + Ginsberg Architects of New York City, is aiming for LEED Gold certification and will include a number of sustainable features such as a green roof garden and rain-water harvesting. These additions cost an extra $300,000 but make it easier to receive government funding and promise big returns in operation costs down the road, says architect Mark Ginsberg.

“Rainwater harvesting, for example, means we are saving city water rates, which are going up 10 percent a year,” he says.

The design also is eco-friendly, with aluminum paneling to help naturally regulate the interior temperature, while adding depth to the building’s 150-foot length. “We were trying to break up the building to have some scale and proportion so it wasn’t a big, long wall,” Ginsberg says.