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Passive House is a German Building standard that was developed in the late 80’s, early 90’s, which - when implemented on a new building or retrofit - is able to reduce heating and cooling energy usage of a building by 80-90%. Passive Houses have a high performance envelope: with triple glazed and gasketed windows, a significant amount of insulation (about double code minimum), and an air impermeable membrane which all produces their ability to retain solar heat gain, body heat or cooking from their inhabitants to become the main heat sources throughout the winters. This in turn means that their active heating system is shrunk down to a very minuscule size. Similarly, as long as exterior shading is added to facades for hotter summer months, the interiors can retain their cool during the summer, allowing only supplementary AC to be required in small amounts.

Upfront construction costs are slightly more - on average, about 2%-4% more to meet the Passive Building Standard, and these are constantly sinking, as more PH building materials and systems become available here in the US. The above moves however render Passive House buildings resilient to increasing energy prices, and the risks posed by the change of fossil fuel availability alongside unstable international energy markets. They are also easily able to reach Net Zero with the use of renewable resources such as solar. This makes them easier and cheaper to maintain over many decades to come. Aside from meeting city and global goals that impact climate change, the result of a PH is on the bottom line for the building owner. Passive Houses represent the lowest cost of ownership, both from a maintenance standpoint, and due to the incredible savings on energy, representing a significant ROI for buildings that are held longer term.

In addition to being incredibly forward thinking in regard to energy usage, carbon emissions and therefore “green” building, the livability of Passive housing is second to none. With their high performance thermal windows and additional insulation, they are extremely quiet, creating an internal feeling of serenity and calm even on a busy NY Street. Because of their tightly air sealed envelope, they require a constantly running ventilation system that both filters and heat exchanges the air, such that without the need to open windows, no room ever feels stuffy. There is no draft from exterior facades, and because of the added insulation, window sills become deep and an ideal place to sit in even the coldest exterior temperatures. All this mean that the building sets itself apart not just because of it energy savings, but its quality of living. 

Passive building principles can be applied to all building typologies – from single-family homes to multifamily apartment buildings, offices, and skyscrapers. 

Copyright 2019  Co Adaptive Architecture PLLC


This 1889 two family Brownstone was fully gut renovated to become a Certified Passive House. Construction began in the Spring of 2017 and was completed in Fall of 2018.

The building has been structurally reinforced and leveled at each floor. New plumbing, electrical and required ventilation has been planned to run in a central spine on the interior of the building, where it branches out toward the perimeter at each floor, and minimizes penetrations in the air tight membrane. Gas has been entirely capped, and the electrical heating and cooling system is kept minimal due to the significantly added insulation and exterior shading. Solar panels by Brooklyn Solar offset the electrical load the building requires to run.

New Optiwin windows from Austria are triple glazed and gasketed. White Oak flooring by Madera is laid in a herringbone on the parlor level, and along with the restored original wooden mantels, details and moldings, evokes a time when this floor was the most elaborate in the house. Maple plywood surrounds at door openings and windows offset the 1900’s details to add a modern but warm flavor, and the custom kitchen fronts by Reform lend the space a dash of color that is repeated in select spots throughout.



MEP Engineer: ABS Engineering

General Contractor: LB General Contracting Corp.



2019 NYCxDESIGN Awards Winner in the Kitchen & Bath Category

Featured in ‘From Small to Extra Large - Passive House Rising to New Heights’

Copyright 2019  Co Adaptive Architecture PLLC

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