Passive Houses Spreading Sustainability in the US

A pair of New York based architects are bringing one of the United States’ first ultra energy efficient Passive House to New York City. Architects Werner Morath and Sam Bargetz of the firm Loadingdock5 are behind the project at 174 Grand Street in Williamsburg. The team has a photo spread and list of specifications on their website, and WNYC News has more on the project’s cutting edge design and efficiency benefits.

Passive Houses rely on heat transferring ventilation and airtight insulation to achieve ultra high-energy efficiency. According to the Passive House Alliance, “Passive House™ certification represents the most aggressive building energy efficiency standard in the world today, potentially resulting in 75 to 90% more energy efficiency than a standard building.”

The Passive House movement is well established in Europe but has not quite caught on in the United States, where the concept is less widespread and shipping costs for the European-manufactured components add price premiums of 10 to 15%. The New York Times reports that there are over 25,000 Passive Houses across Europe, but only 13 in the United States, with a few like 174 Grand Street on the horizon.

A thermal image of 174 Grand street demonstrates  significantly less thermal leakage than surrounding buildings:

While 174 Grand Street is first of its kind in the area, New York City could be fertile ground for future Passive House development. Since New York’s cooler climate isn’t an issue for the already super efficiently insulated Passive Houses, they are free to soak up the city’s 234 days of average annual sun. Couple this with a recent push by the city to drive energy efficiency through a new six point plan, and New York could soon see Passive Houses coming down the pipe in force. A growing trend in modern buildings, the Passive House model could show promise throughout the United States.

Additional Resources:

, Climate Solutions