Passive House standards gaining in single family and multifamily projects

Passive House standards gaining in single family and multifamily projects

The Orchards at Orenco Passive House project

Passive House building in North America has become more prominent with announcements of multifamily and single family home projects that will meet the rigorous standards for energy consumption.

In New York City, Cornell Tech plans to build on its Roosevelt Island campus first high-rise residential building in the world built to passive house (PH) standards. Construction is set to begin this month on the 26-story building; it will comprise 350 residential units and open as part of the campus’s first phase in 2017.

“Constructing the first passive house residential high-rise in the world is the latest and most exciting example of our effort to set new benchmarks in sustainability and innovation,”said Cornell Tech Dean Dan Huttenlocher. “We hope this will serve as a model for how passive house standards can be brought to scale in the United States and create a new template for green design here in New York City.”

PH buildings consume 60 to 70 percent less energy than typical buildings, surpassing modern standards like LEED and NYSERDA. They incorporate a super insulated building façade, an airtight building envelope and an energy recovery ventilation (ERV) system to create a comfortable interior climate without drafts and cold spots. The ERV system constantly pulls in fresh air and removes stale air, while recovering the energy in the climate-controlled air leaving the building.

Cornell Tech Residential will incorporate a number of sustainability-focused design elements. The façade will act as a thermally insulated blanket wrapping the building structure. At the southwest façade, facing Manhattan, the exterior façade opens to reveal a louver system that extends the entire height of the building. This reveal is designed to be the “gills” of the building, housing the heating and cooling equipment and allowing the building system to “breathe.” Low-VOC paint, which limits off gassing and improves indoor air quality, will be used throughout the building, among many other elements. Compared with conventional construction, the building is projected to save 882 tons of CO2 per year, equal to planting 5,300 new trees.

Developed in partnership with the Hudson Companies and Related Companies and designed by New York City-based Handel Architects, the high-rise will be the tallest building on Cornell Tech’s campus. A state-of-the-art, color-changing paint will make the building’s exterior shimmer when reflecting light, shifting color from silver to warm champagne. The interior is designed to provide a comfortable living experience that reinforces the social and intellectual connectivity that is at the heart of the school’s mission, and it will feature a number of collaborative interior and exterior spaces.

Largest U.S. Passive House Building Opens

In Hillsboro Oregon, the largest the largest multi-family building built to Passive House energy standards in North America opened its doors in June.

The Orchards at Orenco is a new affordable 57-unit development located at the Orenco Station in Hillsboro, Oregon. Orchards at Orenco Phase I is the largest multi-family building built to Passive House energy standards in North America.

It's part of the city's plan to develop affordable housing in the highly rated New Urban neighborhood.

Over the past 15 years, several thousand market-rate housing units have been developed in and around Orenco Station in Hillsboro, Oregon, a nationally recognized model of New Urbanism.

The growth, however, has focused on market-rate and high end luxury living. None of the new units have been affordable to workers with incomes under approximately $30,000 a year.

Orchards is helping to fill this gap in Oregon by offering an affordable, comprehensive model of living, using transit-oriented design, green building technology and keeping energy costs extremely low. Orchards is being offered to residents earning approximately 50% of MFI or approximately $30,000 for a single-person household. Eight of the units are available to those earning 30% of MFI. Rents range from $611-$733/month.

As the largest multi-family building built to Passive House energy standards in North America, tenants will receive unprecedented savings on their energy bills, achieving nearly 90% energy reduction for heat usage and 60-70% for overall energy use as compared to a LEED Certified building.

Some of the key innovative features include:

  • Triple-paned windows
  • Heat recovery system
  • Super-insulated building envelope

Orchards recently won the Portland Business Journal’s Better Bricks Sustainable Project of the Year award for its commitment to green technology and energy efficiency.

“Stable, quality housing makes a big difference in the lives of low-income residents trying to get ahead,” says Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “REACH has been working for decades to make more affordable housing available in Oregon. The Orchards at Orenco will strengthen the community, reduce our environmental footprint and lower residents’ utility bills.”

Demonstration Home Will Meet Multiple Green Building Standards

In Cincinnati, an architect and professor is building a new home for his family that is aiming to meet Passive House and LEED Certification.

The Proud Green Home of Cincinnati was designed by its owner, Ben Jacks, an architect and an associate professor at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, to be a near net-zero energy home and achieve LEED for Homes Platinum and Passive House certification.

Jacks, a licensed architect, holds a Masters of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and holds additional degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Southern Maine. He has worked on more than 35 commercial, residential, public sector and historic preservation projects.

Green Building Consulting, a Cincinnati-based green building consulting and rating firm, will conduct the testing and certification for the various programs.

The house is an aspiring LEED Platinum Passive House, consisting of 4,992 gross square feet on four floors. The home is being built in the hilly Mount Lookout neighborhood overlooking the Little Miami River valley. It's designed to be a flexibly family structure with an eye toward aging in place.

When it's done, Jacks will live in the home with his wife and two children, and their dog.

"The project is a labor of love for us as it represents our full commitment to what we perceive systemic changes to building and energy use," Jacks said.

Students Complete Passive House Project

Kansas University students have embarked on their own Passive House journey

Connor Rollins, a 2015 Kansas University master’s of architecture grad and members of KU’s Studio 804 class completed a Passive House in East Lawrence.

Rollins and his team, according to the Lawrence Journal, included many efficient and sustainable features in the three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom house, including:

  • 16-inch-thick walls
  • Triple-pane windows
  • Bamboo floors
  • Cedar siding
  • Energy rated appliances.
  • Cool Roof metal roof

The house will achieve net zero energy because it can provide for all of its energy on-site via solar panels on the roof.

The Studio 804 is a class, with an associated not-for-profit corporation, in which students design and build a building themselves from the ground up. The class has constructed nearly 20 homes and other buildings.

The house was also designed to meet requirements for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program and the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge.

Read more about Passive House.

Topics: Building Green, Certification / LEED, Energy Audits, Energy Recovery & Heat Recovery, Energy Star, Going Green, GREAT GREEN HOMES, Home Design & Plans, Passive House, Proud Green Building

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