It may not look it from the metal and glass façade, but The Helena apartments, completed in August, is quite green.

The 580-unit high-rise, located near the Hudson River, is among the first environmentally friendly apartment projects in New York City.

Along with normal health club and concierge amenities, the building boasts extras such as a cogeneration power plant, solar panels, a water filtration system, and a vegetation-covered roof, all meant to conserve water and electricity.

Dan Kaplan, senior principal at Fox and Fowle Architects, says the Manhattan-based firm joined forces with its real estate firm neighbor, The Durst Organization, to turn a block of manufacturing buildings into a three-phased residential project designed to give back to the community.

"We both feel an obligation to make sure what we do has as beneficial an impact on the area as possible," Kaplan says. "We need to make sure our work contributes to improving the overall environment, as well as the neighborhood."

  Durst's president, Douglas Durst, would not release the development cost but said the environmental extras, which cost 3 percent more, were worth it.

"We did not want to build a typical building," Durst says. "We are proud of The Helena and are pleased the public has reacted so well."

The Helena was 50 percent leased before it opened, with rents ranging from $2,000 a month for a studio to $4,500 for a two-bedroom unit. Durst says that the final two residential phases will follow The Helena's green path.

– Erin Massey