NEW AFFORDABLE BRONX DEVELOPMENT WILL FEATURE A ROOFTOP AQUAPONICS GREENHOUSE
The new Bedford Green House development will feature a number of unique and innovative elements including a rooftop aquaponics greenhouse, a living green façade, a community playground, and custom artwork from the Bronx community. Located at 2865 Creston Avenue, the 13-story, block-and-plank building will meet or exceed LEED Gold standards for energy efficiency and environmentally friendly design.
“We are thrilled to break ground on Bedford Green House, a development that will provide high-quality affordable and supportive housing for hundreds of individuals and families. Throughout our 50-year history, Project Renewal has provided innovative programs to help New Yorkers in need. We will continue to do that at Bedford Green House with comprehensive services and cutting-edge features like aquaponics to ensure that residents can lead healthy, stable lives,” said Mitchell Netburn, President & CEO Project Renewal.
The rooftop greenhouse will be filled with nutritious produce in an innovative vertical farming system called aquaponics, in which residents will raise delicious, nutritious fish and vegetables in a symbiotic ecosystem. Edible tilapia fish will live in large tanks connected to a bio-filter that breaks down fish waste and carries nutrients to the plant roots; meanwhile the plants will clean the water for the fish. Because the aquaponics growing platforms can be stacked vertically, produce yields per square foot will be many times higher than with traditional soil-based farming.
Project Renewal will use the rooftop space outside the greenhouse for organic farming in planter boxes to grow vegetables that are less suited to aquaponics. Residents will work with Project Renewal’s horticultural therapist to grow their own food in the airy and light-filled greenhouse, year-round, alongside their friends and neighbors. Horticultural therapy in the greenhouse will be especially beneficial to elderly residents who can often be isolated at home, and for residents who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is common during winter months.
The rooftop will also feature a demonstration kitchen with healthy cooking classes for residents and community members, taught by professional chefs from Project Renewal’s Culinary Arts Training Program.
Bedford Green House’s active design was influenced by the theory of biophilia—the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms. Scientific studies have supported biophilia, showing that exposure to the natural world reduces stress levels, shortens recovery times for hospital patients, lowers blood pressure, reduces depression, and increases insulin sensitivity among diabetics.
In light of these findings, Bedford Green House will feature an interior green wall in the lobby and an exterior living green façade at the building frontage, featuring plants and vines cascading from planters. In addition to transforming the visual character of the neighborhood, the vines will reduce the building’s energy usage by absorbing solar radiation during the hot summer months when the vines have leaves. During winter months, the vines will shed their leaves and allow solar radiation to warm the building, bringing in heat and light when it is most needed. The vines will also remove airborne pollutants, which is especially important in the Bronx where children are hospitalized by asthma at a rate that is 21 times higher than more affluent areas of New York City.
Bedford Green House will create an inviting streetscape through landscaping along the sidewalk frontage, seats at the setbacks, and public art that will encourage residents and neighbors to engage with the building. Highlighting the front yard will be a colorful community playground—with two slides, jungle gym, musical instruments, and a water fountain to play in during summer months—that will be accessible to children of families who live in the building, as well as community residents. The rear courtyard and front setbacks will also include extensive landscaping and space for yoga, group exercise, and mindfulness classes.
The project is the first phase of the Project Renewal’s larger plan to create 90 additional affordable homes through the redevelopment of a neighboring site.