Even in the midst of New York's blustery, barren winter, the Big Apple is getting a little greener. The Albanese Organization and Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. have broken ground on its newest green creation, a 253-unit apartment community in lower Manhattan's Battery Park City.

In June 2003, the same team opened The Solaire, now an international icon for green design and construction practices. Russell Albanese, president of New York-based The Albanese Organization, expects this still-unnamed community to also serve as a model for green building.

“There's many of the same features [as in The Solaire], and there's a couple new items that really advance and further improve our energy efficiency,” Albanese says.

The $105 million project will feature a natural gas microturbine that produces 70 kilowatts of electric power, while recapturing enough byproduct heat energy to generate 100 percent of the building's domestic hot water needs. The building is expected to lower peak electric demand by 65 percent.