The Catskill Project

Building collaborations and connections

By LAURIE STUART
Posted 10/20/21

LIVINGSTON MANOR, NY — The Catskill Project is a collaboration of collaborations. It starts with an investor, a long-time resident of the area, and an architectural firm, with a New York …

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The Catskill Project

Building collaborations and connections

Posted

LIVINGSTON MANOR, NY — The Catskill Project is a collaboration of collaborations. It starts with an investor, a long-time resident of the area, and an architectural firm, with a New York City/Callicoon connection that now features a father and daughter plus a longtime architectural firm employee. It then adds in a policy nerd whose mission is to create a roadmap to achieve a statewide carbon-neutral building stock. Throw in a New Hamshire-based manufacturer for pre-designed architecture panels, and a Brooklyn-based women-owned interior design agency with a eye for scouring the local area for fixtures and furnishings, and you’ve got an interesting combination of skills and connections.  

Together, they aspire to develop a 90-acre property, preserving 40 acres as common spaces for trails and a nature preserve.

They will build, when completed, 24 homes using Passive House standards. This private community is located in Livingston Manor, off Huber Road.

Peter Malik is the investment banker, environmentalist and a longtime Livingston Manor resident. Buck Moorhead, Remy Moorhead and Laura Carter are the architectural and production management team. In his day job, Greg Hale is the policy nerd who works with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) as a senior advisor for energy efficiency markets and finance. With New Hampshire-based Bensonwood, whose mission is improving people’s lives through product and process, a company renowned for customizable pre-designed architecture and timber framing, and Diane Burgio Design, a company that specializes in interior architecture and decor, you’ve got layers of people and businesses that are committed to sustainable development. Their sights are aimed at the connection between a particular landscape and emerging technologies. They are focused on where the global system meets the local one. They aspire to use their research, experience and technologies to explore this knowledge, which could be downscaled from an upscale development into transforming the building industry and increasing the standards for affordable housing.

“The idea of carbon neutrality for the entirety of the community is really exciting to me. It’s a lifelong passion,” said Hale at the October 9 ribbon cutting on the nearly $900,000 model home.

“It’s a weird business model,” he said. “I’m building prototypes such as this, and then I am out there to make sure that everybody else can build it just like this as well.

“We’re all about open source, and making this a model for how you build properties in the future. The design is tremendous, but the performance is amazing. I have been out there saying ‘everyone should do it this way,’ without having done it yet. And now that we have it, it is remarkable. We haven’t had the heating or cooling system turned on as we have been finishing this and the house just performs. The principles just work. You get the sun in the winter time, and it warms it up. You have the shades above the windows and in the summertime, cools it down. It’s really exciting.”

He outlined the connections and the future.

“This is all about partnership. We are actively working to set up some workshops with the high school and the college and share how we did it here and how they can do it as well.”

Other collaborations include Ulster Saving Bank for financing and Coldwell Banker Timberland Properties, with James Karpowicz as the real estate agent.

“Collaboration starts with a vision and a lot of people who know how to implement the vision,” said Hans Porschitz, Bensonwood COO. Porschitz is a member and coordinator of the collaborative “Open-Prototype Initiative,” and has participated in many innovative projects including Net-Zero, LEED Platinum, Unity House, and BrightBuilt Barn, as well as the famous Loblolly house.

“This collaboration is great design with the technology to build homes that really perform and have the tradesmen who can really finish them to make them as beautiful as they are,” Porschitz said.

For more, visit www.thecatskillproject.com 

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