Cell High: Roosevelt Island Luxury Rental The Octagon Scores Unique Green Honor

First things first: The Octagon, on Roosevelt Island, is one of the elite new luxury rental listings on Roosevelt Island -- which is a distinction that increasingly means something. But The Octagon is also more than that -- something simultaneously both more futuristic and more historic than the average Manhattan luxury rental, and another sign of Roosevelt Island's rise as a neighborhood worth watching on the Manhattan real estate scene. The Octagon New Yorkers know today -- a 500-unit luxury rental building that's also one of the greenest green rental buildings in New York City -- was built in 2006, around a (yes) octagonal building with a much longer story behind it. The octagon that forms the hub of The Octagon dates back to 1841, and was built then by Alexander Jackson Davis as a blue octagonal entrance building to what was known then as the New York City Lunatic Asylum (Today, of course, we no longer say "lunatic asylum," and instead use the term "Port Authority Bus Terminal.") That the space has since become one of the most luxurious rental listings on Roosevelt Island -- after 55 years of service as a 19th-century mental hospital, if you're just joining us -- is notable enough. But with the installation of a new, energy-efficient fuel cell that makes The Octagon the first green apartment building in NYC and New York State to be so-powered, The Octagon also has a claim to being one of the greenest green rentals in Manhattan.

That fuel cell, it's worth noting, is far from the only green aspect about The Octagon. has already put itself on Manhattan’s list of top green rental listings by using construction materials from within 500 miles of the site, stocking apartments with Energy Star appliances, making use of photovoltaic panels and more. That wasn’t enough for this ambitious development, however, now the Octagon is fueled by a 400kW fuel cell built by UTC Power. Explaining how the fuel cell works is well above our pay grade here at the Luxury Rentals Manhattan blog -- we write about luxury rentals in Manhattan, not science (which is good news for all involved -- but to put it simply, running on the fuel cell provides the green building with most of its power and heat, and does so in a way that cuts both emissions and energy bills for the building and its residents. To put it slightly less simply, the fuel cell takes natural gas and turns it into heat and energy through a combustion-free, electrochemical process. This allows for most of the buildings energy and heat to run off of the fuel cell; its energy efficiency is higher than what it receives from the power grid and the heat that it produces is used for space and water heating.  By using the fuel cell, the Octagon will minimize its carbon emissions by 790 metric tons a year.

This is one for the record books; the Octagon has rewritten itself in history once again, and made itself a major player on Manhattan's green scene. Yes, it sounds crazy (sorry), but this former lunatic asylum is now one of the greenest green buildings in Manhattan.