By Scott Sieber
The project is the first phase of a late 1990s master plan that was designed to overhaul the garden with upgrades that are practical and environmentally friendly, according to Max Joel, the capital project assistant for the garden.The first phase includes the construction of a new 15,831-square-foot visitor/administration building with some of the more outstanding features being a green roof and compost toilets.He said the city Green Buildings Law signed in October would mandate by 2007 any building receiving over half of its funding from the city to meet at least some of the green building standards, which outline ways to reduce the environmental impact of new construction.”We're hoping this building will serve as a model for other agencies,” said Joel.While eliciting a few squinched noses at the mention of “compost toilets” that would recycle waste through bacteria and sometimes worms, Joel said the facilities are completely harmless.The compost is recycled and used in the gardens, he said.”You would have no idea you were using one,” he said, adding that the recycling method would save water and energy by recycling the garden's own waste.The 6,229-square-foot horticultural building/maintenance building was recently completed, he said, allowing the maintenance staff to abandon their previous unheated shed and to store equipment someplace other than under the usual tarp covers.”This is a vast improvement,” he said.The building also contains a rain basin that will allow workers to use rainwater to clean equipment, he said.The green roof of the project will be accessible to the public and is expected to use about 40 percent less energy than typical buildings of its size, he said. It is designed to prevent the reduce the release of greenhouse gases and energy costs by more than $7,000.”That was a very refreshing presentation,” Marshall said. “It says to us that spring is not far away.”Reach reporter Scott Sieber by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.