Intelligent Energy

Living off the grid, Brooklyn style

Living off the grid, Brooklyn style

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Developer Voltaic Solaire has spent $1 million rehabilitating a century-old brownstone so it generates as much energy as it uses.

Alternative energy company Voltaic Solaire is trying to bring off-the-grid living to Brooklyn by turning a century old brownstone into super efficient, solar-powered apartment building that generates as much energy as it uses.

The $1 million project will create six rental units, a lounge and a restaurant -- all of which will be fully powered by an 18,000-watt solar panel system on its rooftop and terrace awnings, the New York Times reported. The system was designed to provide all electric, heat and hot water to the site.

Voltaic Solaire, which is the general contractor for its projects, installed LED lighting, insulated pipes and energy efficient windows and appliances to ensure the solar system can meet energy demand.

These net zero apartments come with a price. According to several reports including the NYT, rent will range between $1,600 a month for a studio to $2,600 for a two-bedroom. Utilities are included.

The company also built a demonstration project at a building in Brooklyn called the Delta, which is equipped with a solar system that can generate enough energy to power the property even though it doesn't have a southern exposure to the sun. The company achieved this by installing solar panels on the roof, and thin solar skin the outside walls.

New York (surrounding boroughs included) is not a mecca of off-the-grid living. But NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pushing the city's green agenda and encouraging solar and energy efficiency projects.

Last month, Bloomberg announced solar installations on 10 city-owned buildings had tripled the city's capacity. The 10 projects increase the city's total solar production to 648 kilowatts, enough to power 143 households

Still, the city has a long way to go before it hits the solar generating capacity of San Francisco, which had 7.2 megawatts installed on municipal facilities including the Moscone Center as of 2011, according to the EPA.

Photo: Voltaic Solaire

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Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure