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The Apollo Alliance—a coalition of labor, environmental, and other constituencies in support of energy independence, creation of millions of new high-paying jobs, and “green” economic development—isn’t the easiest policy initiative to get one’s head around. To help clarify things, the New York-based nonprofit Urban Agenda, the local convener for the project, hosted a “High Performance Building Tour” on April 8 featuring a publicly owned facility, an office complex, and a residential development. At the first stop, Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Lower Manhattan, building architect Frederic Schwartz detailed some of the facility’s environmentally friendly features, including radiant floor heating, variable speed fans and pumps, and photovoltaic panels. Just opened in February after 13 years of development, the Terminal is an indication that, as Schwartz observes, “Governments are understanding why [high-performance construction] is the right thing to do.” At 4 Times Square, the tour’s second stop, Condé Nast and other high-profile employers utilize “high performance windows” that maximize daylight while retaining indoor air temperature as well as energy-efficient, gas-fired heat/ventilation systems. The day concluded at Harlem’s first high-performance building, 1400 5th Avenue. Its developers boast that this residential complex uses 70 percent less energy than comparable buildings, with higher air quality, geothermal heating and cooling, and IT infrastructure. While Apollo’s big-picture goals of three million jobs and freedom from foreign oil might seem far off, the prospect of cleaner air for affordable housing residents—and related gains in school attendance and performance, and job retention for parents—offers a compelling argument for smart development in the here and now. (D. Fischer)

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