Loft condos make Old Town green

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The roof on the Cromley Lofts in Old Town is a garden with neat rows of sedum plants, to minimize excess runoff and absorb heat. Other features such as recycled pine floors, generously sized windows, recycled glass shower tiles and bamboo kitchen cabinets are contributing elements to make the loft condominiums at 1210 Queen Street, the first certified green, condominiums in this part of Alexandria. An open house will take place there on Sunday, June 3, from 1 to 4 p.m.

The Cromley Lofts is a building of eight two bedroom, two bath condominiums in a converted 1910 warehouse that were built environmentally conscious to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards set by the United States Green Building Council. The project was the brainchild of Bill Cromley, a local builder who once had his office in the same building years ago when it was an artists enclave in this part of Old Town.

The whole LEED concept promotes a whole-building approach of sustainability by recognizing performance in five areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. The lofts use natural lighting, water saving toilets, a roof garden, and a recycled building approach where 50 percent of the construction debris was reused, according to Cromley.

You have to have LEED commissioners come in and certify it, he said.
From the street, the building stands apart from others with larger than normal windows to maximize the use of natural lighting. The grounds are landscaped with native flora, and the front stoop is now a garden. Inside, the pine floors are recycled wood from a Georgia textile mill. Its old-growth pine, said Cromley. The bamboo used for the cabinets qualifies as green because the plant is fast-growing, unlike oak or cherry trees. Each apartment has a closet designed to hold four bikes, he added.

Standing in the middle of the main room in one of the upstairs units, Cromley noted that it feels better when youre in a space that is filled with natural light.

The bottom floor is mostly below ground. Its an English basement, Cromley said, where the windows were enlarged to allow light in and a temperature that remains cool in the summer thanks to its underground location. When its humid outside, its 10 to 15 degrees cooler down here, Cromley said.

The bathroom shower tiles are made from recycled glass. The toilets conserve water by having two settings for a light or full flush. The first-level foyer has one column from the original interior. Each apartment has high ceilings and the insulation used in the ceiling and walls is much higher than required.

The loft concept makes you feel like youre in a bigger space than it is, he said.
Arianna Zuckerman, an opera singer from Washington, D.C., was in looking at what is available after she is married. One of her relatives has even mentioned a green, wedding ceremony, which she is considering. The green concept has become more of a hot button issue no matter where you go, she said.

Cromleys neighbor Brooks Allgood Armandroff agreed. Its long overdue, she said of the green concept. Its the right thing to do, she added.

The schools are Jefferson Houston Elementary, George Washington Middle and TC Williams High.

The listing Realtor is Martine Irmer with Long & Foster. She notices the enthusiasm behind the green movement. Green seems to be very hot, she said. The two basement condos are $585,000; the main and first level units are $695,000 and the rooftop homes are $660,000. Call 703-346-7283.

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