September 12, 2013Countdown to BE NYC! With onlydays until the conference, GreenHomeNYC is shining the spotlight on the experts who will be making the BE NYC an exceptional industry event! One of the professionals participating in the conference is Les Bluestone. Les Bluestone, co-owner of Blue Sea Development, a sustainable property owner, development, general contracting, and management firm, will be speaking at two sessions during this upcoming BE NYC. Having practiced in the real estate industry for thirty-five years, Les has a tremendous breadth of knowledge, and will be sharing his insight in “My “Aha!” Moment or What made you learn the ways of the Force?” of the WHAT THE PROS WANT TO KNOW track, and “Cogen A to Z” of the BUILDING SYSTEMS track. Together with his business partner, Avery Seavey, Les has been on the leading edge of the green building industry for decades, having developed numerous sustainable properties, some of which were the first to earn green building certification in New York. Just a few of Blue Sea Development’s accomplishments include the first ENERGY STAR certified affordable housing building in New York state, the first LEED certified and LEED Platinum certified affordable housing in the state, and the first rooftop hydroponic farm on a residential building. What led you to focus on sustainable development? I grew up in Long Island in a family of builders – I had always spent time on construction sites. After earning a degree at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, I returned to New York and joined the family business where I worked for a period of time before starting my own. In the late ‘90’s, the New York City Housing Partnership received a grant to do what was called “high performance building” (a term that translates to “green building” today) and asked if we would be interested in working with them and their consultant, Steven Winter Associates, on an upcoming development project we had planned.. This began our firm’s official involvement with “green building”, but like many of us, I had been exposed to sustainable strategies throughout my entire life, but just didn’t know it at the time (“why don’t you turn the lights off?”, “close the door!”, “how long are you going to shower for?”), and so on). Green building is common sense from all sorts of perspectives, including comfort, economics, health, and the environment. Green building is good practice; benefiting owners, developers, and tenants, and the certifications that can come are just icing on the cake. We completed the first ENERGY STAR certified affordable housing in New York State in 2001 – Sunflower Way, which comprised 210 apartments in the South Bronx, and where most all the comfort issue callbacks that I was used to experiencing in the past, seemed to disappear. How does your professional practice contribute to broader sustainability goals? Each affordable housing building we do shows that cost effective development with the use of safe and renewable materials, improved energy efficiency, and much more, can be accomplished. Some companies may be more driven by financial incentives and some will have more marketing/PR-related goals, but no matter how or why each company moves through the process, and what if any, certification they ultimately receive, the end result is still a greener building that didn’t exist before. I’m not a zealot about why people should embrace one “flavor” of green building as opposed to another; I just love to see anyone doing anything beyond “the way we’ve always done it”. What can conference members expect to learn at your sessions? My goal is for each attendee to come away from the conference with at least one piece of useful information that they can take home with them and use on their own developments. In “Cogen A to Z”, I will provide an overview of cogeneration and how it’s been implemented in projects we’ve done. In “My “Aha!” Moment or What made you learn the ways of the Force?”, I’ll talk about my personal history with green development and why we continue to do what we do. What are you most excited to see and learn at BE NYC? The NESEA conferences are some of the best that I attend. The participants are always extremely knowledgeable on the subjects and have a great passion for their beliefs. This always creates an exciting atmosphere with lots of interesting and often lively discussions, which are always informative. I’m personally hoping to learn more about systems and technologies that I haven’t considered or been aware of in the past. For example, one year, I went to a session on a particular HVAC system that I had always dismissed in my mind as not practical for what we build, but after learning more in the session, I’m now taking bids on it for a very large new development. These are the sorts of discoveries that can really make it worthwhile, in and of itself. Interested in learning more from LES BLUESTONE? Look for him at the WHAT THE PROS WANT TO KNOW and BUILDING SYSTEMS tracks at BE NYC.
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