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Passive House: Old Technique, New Trend

174 Grand Street features a dark gray exterior insulation finishing system and modern, reversible Walch windows, imported from Austria. (Courtesy of Loadingdock5)

Who would have known a house could be heated with its inhabitants’ body heat, a hairdryer, and the sunlight falling through its windows—rather than a furnace. Most home owners today are in disbelief that such possibilities even exist.

Actually, these are a few rewards that come from following a rigorous German building standard called Passivhaus—in the U.S., better known as Passive House.

While this building style has been slow to catch on in the States, New York-based architecture firm, Loadingdock5, has taken the lead. Thanks to LD5, 174 Grand Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is scheduled to become the first Passive House in New York erected from the ground up.

LD5, is comprised of Werner Morath and Sam Bargetz. Morath is the architect and general contractor on the project and Bargetz is the certified Passive House consultant in association with David White of Right Environments.

Bargetz highlights the core principles behind a Passive House: “To paraphrase Dr. Feist [who founded the Passive House movement], a Passive House requires really good insulation, an air-tight envelope, a reduction of thermal bridges (conductive structural areas where energy is lost, such as balconies), the use of ‘energy-gain’ windows, and a ventilation system with high energy recovery.”

A mixed-use building, 174 Grand Street has a retail store on the first level and a three-story, single-family residence above. The upstairs Passive House features a dark gray exterior insulation finishing system and modern, reversible Walch windows, imported from Austria.

“The project is progressing smoothly and quickly, and we’re of course both thrilled and excited,” said Bargetz,. “All major construction has been completed and is awaiting inspection, and we’re currently undertaking blower tests, etc. to ensure that the structure adheres to the strict PH standard.”

The NYC Passive House-to-be has gained plenty of interest. Bargetz says that some dislike the home’s appearance as it contrasts with the surrounding buildings, while others truly love it.

174 Grand Street, as with other Passive Houses, is designed with the sun’s rays in mind. The house’s windows are oriented to welcome in winter light to help warm the home, while summer rays are minimized, keeping the home cool during the hot months.

For modern windows with clean lines and simple profiles, Austrian company, Walch, had the perfect product. (Courtesy of Loadingdock5)

Energy costs for heating are minimized as much as 90 percent and whatever leftoverheating and cooling demand exists can be accomplished using a small source. 174 Grand Street, for instance, uses a Mitsubishi mini split heat pump.

Perhaps the heart of each Passive House is its energy recovery ventilator. “Passive Houses have a constantly running indoor ventilation system with low velocity, which is not only low-speed and silent but also provides a constant influx of fresh air which reducing off-gassing of toxins from new materials,” Bargetz said.

The first Passive Houses were built in Darmstadt, Germany in 1990. It is now estimated that there are 25,000 certified Passive Houses in Europe. Surprisingly, there are only 13 in the U.S., yet dozens more are under construction.

“There are many green building standards in effect, which can become a bit confusing,” Bargetz said, “but Passive House focuses solely on the energy performance of a building. By this I mean that the Passive House standard does a better job of optimizing a building to actually use less energy.”

The Willamsburg based firm has completed a number of projects in Brooklyn and has recently starting designing a Passive House retrofit at 21 Greenpoint Avenue.

The Passive House Institute U.S. says, “The Passive House concept represents today’s highest energy standard with the promise of slashing the heating energy consumption of buildings by an amazing 90 percent.”

As the Passive House Institutes and architecture firms like LD5 continue their work, raising awareness, Passive House is destined to become a household name. Not too far into the future. In all countries

See more here:
Passive House: Old Technique, New Trend – The Epoch Times

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