Great Passive House Info

Here is an excellent pdf on Passive House. It shows the construction methods and results of a group of Passive House buildings in Hannover, Germany, giving a great insight into how Passive House works.

PEP-Info1_Passive_Houses_Kronsberg

As Passive House builders in New York this information is invaluable to us. In NY we are definitely experimenting with a different geographical environment but the core Passive House technique stays the same no matter where you build.

Compared to most German Passive Houses, a New York Passive House has to contend with larger temperature swings between summer and winter, as well as a higher humidity level in the summer.

But so far the success rate of Passive House building in New York and Brooklyn has been really high. The biggest issue is air sealing the hundred year old brownstone walls, which are full of cracks and holes. Insulating is pretty easy and it is amazing how little is actually needed, due mostly to the brownstones having two party walls on each side that are heated by your neighbors.

The main challenge is finding a good ERV or HRV. The good ones like Zehnder are  unsustainably expensive. And the cheaper ones lack some key functions.

But these are small challenges given the massive benefits of a well built NY Passive House. Our current Passive House brownstone in Harlem in the mechanical stage right now. We are getting the ERV set up. We are also doing the mini-splits which will heat and cool the floors.

Some things still in the air are the composting toilets and gray water. This has nothing to do with Passive House construction but everything to do with green building. We just are not sure if we can do it with the DOB approval so it is on hold until we meet with them.

About the author: Gennaro Brooks-Church

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