Bohemian Roof City: Team New York Builds for the Solar Decathlon

The Solar Roofpod is a “penthouse with a purpose,” designed to respond to the market for economical new housing in cities, and to be a solid investment for existing building owners.

While residential density is known to reduce carbon footprints (especially when, as in New York, automobile use is low), even more gains in energy efficiency can be achieved with innovative designs. Team New York examined the Claritas Prizm Marketing analysis tool to identify a target market profile. The particular segment we selected is “Bohemian Mix,” comprised of urbane, ethnically diverse and progressive singles, couples and young families. Other urban market segments that could find the Roofpod lifestyle and the considerable utility savings appealing are empty-nester “Cosmopolitans” and “American Dreams” immigrant families. The “Bohemian Mix” couple we envision living in the prototype Roofpod are motivated to live an eco-conscious lifestyle, committed to urban revitalization and sustainability; we imagine their professions as building manager and urban gardener. While the engineer husband manages the host building, including energy flow, his biologist spouse tends the green space. Together, they are engaged with emerging green technologies and are proactive in upkeep of the pod, the garden, and the host building.

The Roofpod design accommodates this market segment’s needs foremost by adding new, live-work dwelling units to vibrant urban neighborhoods. The benefits that the host building and the municipality would realize could subsidize construction costs and rent. The opportunity to perform a stewardship role, in exchange for reduced rent, would be highly appealing to the target market of educated, eco-conscious urban professionals. The open unit plan, spacious roof garden, amazing views, and the elaborate system of smart controls are all aspects of the Roofpod’s design that would accommodate the needs and desires of these clients, and would provide them opportunities to productively apply their skills and knowledge to “give back” and form bonds in their neighborhood.

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