700,000-SF Connecticut Multi-Family Project Takes Green to New Heights with Fuel Cell Installation

Becker + Becker, developer of the 700,000-square-foot mixed-use 360 State Street residential project in New Haven, Conn., has just broken new ground with the installation of a 400-kilowatt fuel cell at the $180 million development, marking the world's first large-scale residential installation of a fuel cell.

June 2, 2010
By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

Becker + Becker, developer of the 700,000-square-foot mixed-use 360 State Street residential project in New Haven, Conn., has just broken new ground with the installation of a 400-kilowatt fuel cell at the $180 million development, marking the world’s first large-scale residential installation of a fuel cell.

The 32-story property at 360 State Street sits on a 1.5-acre downtown site blocks from Yale University. The dynamic fuel cell that has just been installed will supply combustion-free power for the project’s 500 residential apartment units and 23,400 square feet of ground-level retail space, accommodating nearly 100 percent of the building’s electricity demands.

“Large capacity fuel cells have traditionally been utilized at schools, hospitals, and other energy-intensive facilities,” developer Becker+ Becker notes in a press release. “However, multi-family residential buildings such as 360 State represent a perfect, until now unexplored opportunity for fuel cell technology because of their ability to continually utilize the fuel cell’s process heat in the form of space heating and domestic hot water. With its break-through utilization of fuel cell power and range of efficiency measures, 360 State has become a new green building model for the multifamily housing world.”

Its large fuel cell is not the only means by which 360 State is breaking new ground in sustainable development. The multifamily project is a certified LEED Platinum Plan, marking the first project acknowledged under the U.S. Green Building Council’s new LEED for Neighborhood Development program. Additional green elements at 360 State include a half-acre irrigated green roof, electric car charging stations, bike storage, as well as the property’s location just across from a major train station and its easy accessibility from CT Transits’ three main bus stops.

The global recession has not put much of a damper on the greening of commercial real estate. According to a recent report by Pike Research, green certification is becoming increasingly important around the world, as, in addition to the environmental benefits, certified properties frequently command higher values and higher rents. As per the report, the amount of real estate space validated by accepted certification programs will jump from a current global total of 6 billion square feet to 53 billion square feet by 2020. The trend is more commonplace in major markets now, but it is expected to expand to the lower profile markets.

“It is definitely going to happen, but it will happen slowly in places where there isn’t international commerce, particularly overseas where they’re trying to attract U.S. or European companies that have sustainability demands,” Eric Bloom, a research analyst with Pike Research, told CPE. “In the U.S., some corporations have hard and fast policies and about green certification and some have preferences, so if a big corporation with these demands is going to have space in a lower profile market, that is going to drive demand for more such space. And then there’s the ‘keeping up with the Jones’ aspect; no city wants to be perceived as being behind on the green issue, or backward in the eyes of potential tenants. The marketability and market value of certification is driving the movement.”