Passive House construction is no stranger to urban settings, so it’s not surprising that the performance standard seems to be gaining ground in New York City. Brooklyn, especially, seems to have caught the bug.
In October we mentioned a Passivhaus project underway in the borough’s Williamsburg neighborhood, and a few weeks ago local news source Brooklyn Ink offered an overview of the standard, pegged in part to a brownstone renovation in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood.
Targeting insulation issues and airtightness from the basement up, the remodel of the four-story building also had to meet local landmark requirements, which meant the purchase of expensive triple-glazed custom windows that conform to the style of the originals. It is an opulently finished project. And its architect, Brooklyn-based Prospect Architecture, says it is the first townhouse retrofit in the nation to aim for the Passivhaus standard.
Keeping the PH conversation going
According to Passive House Institute US’s locator map for certified consultants in North America, there are 14 such consultants in New York City, including eight in Brooklyn. In November 2009, a group called NY Passive House, whose organizers include Prospect Architecture principal Jeremy Shannon, formed to create a local forum for discussing Passivhaus topics at monthly social gatherings called “Meetups.” The group caters to contractors, architects, designers, suppliers, and consumers interested in learning about the standard and delving into the particulars.
The retrofit also included the installation of two EcoSmart ventless fireplaces, solar hot water, new wood floors, two new kitchens, and remodeled bathrooms, plus extensive restoration of the interior woodwork.
Update from Jeremy Shannon, December 6, 2010:
Jeremy Shannon tells GBA that work is now complete on the brownstone’s 2,500-sq.-ft. owner’s triplex and nearly complete on the building’s 900-sq.-ft. basement rental apartment. The project team is striving to bring the level of air sealing where it needs to be so that the house can be tested for Passivhaus certification in January.
While he said he is not at liberty to disclose overall per-square-foot costs, Shannon did note that the cost of pursuing Passivhaus performance added only about 2.7% to the price before energy rebates and tax credits. Nonetheless, the cost of a renovation of this quality and thoroughness, especially for an old brownstone in New York City, is quite high even without the deep energy retrofit.
Shannon added that Prospect Architecture is working on two more Passivhaus projects, both townhouses, in Park Slope, and a development of Passivhaus homes on the Caribbean island of Nevis.