Passive House Architecture and Building Conference in New York Will Present Critical Blueprints for Mitigating Climate Change by Increasing Building Efficiency

Passive House, an international building standard, is the only proven architectural and building method that can enable the dramatic carbon reductions called for by the international scientific community.

New York City (PRWEB) May 19, 2014

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment released in April and the third U.S. National Climate Assessment released this month, both state clearly the need to radically reduce our carbon emissions by 2050 or face disastrous runaway climate change. Scientists also report that we have just reached one irreversible tipping point, the melting of the West Antarctic ice shelf.

In the last month, political leaders from President Obama to New York Governor Cuomo have called for increased building efficiency as a way to address climate change. On May 5th, New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio called for the construction of 200,000 units of affordable housing, and specified that they be environmentally sustainable.

The NY14 Passive House Conference and Expo on June 17th will benefit stakeholders working in climate change mitigation, community and power supply resiliency, environmental sustainability, energy efficiency and affordable housing. The presentations will detail current design and building strategies that have succeeded in dramatically reducing energy consumption of apartment buildings, schools, shops and office buildings, for both new construction and in retrofitting existing buildings.

Buildings are responsible for approximately forty percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. In New York City, buildings account for approximately seventy-five percent of carbon emissions, according to former Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC Greater Greener Buildings Plan report. A Passive House building uses ninety percent less heating and cooling energy than a typical building, while offering comfort and resiliency. Ken Levenson, President of New York Passive House, expects NY14 Passive House to be “the most in-depth conference program to address building efficiency and climate change mitigation ever held in the U.S.”

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, the coordinating lead author for the IPCC report that led to the group receiving the 2007 Nobel Prize. She will provide a critical look at the recent IPCC Fifth Assessment, the 2050 carbon reduction goals and the pivotal role of building efficiency.

“When thinking about climate change mitigation many are focused on renewable energy production,” says Richard Leigh, Director of Research at Urban Green Council. “But to make a decarbonized power grid achievable, it’s critical that we also lock dramatic energy reductions into the fabric of what we build and renovate. The more energy savings we lock in, the easier and more economical the decarbonization task becomes. And Passive House offers a proven and practical way to achieve the savings we need.”

In a panel entitled “The Energy Puzzle,” Mr. Leigh will be joined by Tomás O’Leary, Passive House Academy founder, Jeffrey Perlman, founder of Bright Power, and others from the renewable energy and power distribution sectors. They will discuss the essential interplay between building efficiency and a decarbonized grid, the emergence of Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEBs) and Passive House certifications that encourage energy positive buildings.

A series of presentations will feature specific Passive House building projects by leading practitioners from around the world, including:

  •     A multi-family apartment building by Chris Benedict, Chris Benedict Architect (New York)
  •     Primary school and university buildings by Jonathan Hines, Architype (London)
  •     Dormitory housing by Brian Kavanagh, Kavanagh Tuite Architects (Dublin)
  •     Brussels Greenbizz city district by Sabine Laribaux, Architectes Associés (Brussels)


One session will demonstrate retrofit strategies across New York City from Borough Park and Brownstone Brooklyn, to a condominium conversion in Tribeca. The majority of buildings that will be standing in the coming decades already exist today. Therefore, retrofitting building stock to the highest levels of efficiency during the normal course of component replacement and renovation is essential in the implementation of an effective citywide energy strategy.

Projects to be presented from the New York area that meet Passive House retrofit, or “EnerPHit,” standards, include:


  •     Tribeca Condo EnerPHit by Stas Zakrzewski, Zakrzewski + Hyde Architects (Manhattan)
  •     Borough Park Ambulance Dispatch Center EnerPHit by Gregory Duncan, Gregory Duncan Architect (Brooklyn)
  •     Brownstone Brooklyn EnerPHit by Cramer Silkworth, Baukraft Engineering (Brooklyn)
  •     Red Hook Sound Studio EnerPHit by Ryan Enschede, Ryan Enschede Studio (Brooklyn)
  •     Bedford-Stuyvesant Wood Frame EnerPHit by David White, Right Environments (Brooklyn)


New York’s iconic skyscrapers can also achieve Passive House performance. Lois Arena of Steven Winter Associates (New York) will present on the unique challenges of low-energy, high-rise construction.

A session on the finance and economics of Passive House construction will begin with a detailed examination of a dental clinic by Adam Cohen of Passiv Science (Virginia). The panel discussion will be moderated by Jeremy Smerd, Managing Editor of Crain’s New York Business and include Rob Conboy of Better (US), Larry Sprague of Sustainable Energy Funding Program (US), Melissa Ruttner of BuildForward Capital (New York), and Andrew Padian of The Community Preservation Corporation (New York).

The day will conclude with a survey of the latest international Passive House developments, presented by leading consultant Günter Lang (Vienna). A panel discussion will follow, moderated by William Menking, Editor-In-Chief of The Architect’s Newspaper, covering the potential impact of Passive House in New York and featuring former Mayor Bloomberg’s Deputy Director for Green Building and Energy Efficiency Laurie Kerr, and Urban Green Council Executive Director Russell Unger.

Over 30 of the leading Passive House component and service providers will also be exhibiting, including Platinum Sponsor, IT Windows and Doors; and Gold Sponsors, Zehnder America ventilation systems, European Architectural Supply windows and doors, and Passive House training provider Association for Energy Affordability.

AIA HSW continuing education credits will be available to qualified attending professionals.

Event Information:


  •     Name: NY14 Passive House Conference and Expo
  •     Date: June 17, 2014
  •     Time: Registration begins 8am, Expo open until 6:30pm
  •     Location: Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, New York, NY


For more information and to register for the event see the NY14PH Conference registration page.


About New York Passive House:

New York Passive House (NYPH) is a New York State tax exempt trade organization which promotes the Passive House building energy standard in New York State and the New York City metropolitan area. NYPH provides public outreach, education, support of industry professionals and advocacy to support the success and vitality of the Passive House community. See

About the Passive House standard:

Passive House is an international building standard developed by the Passive House Institute in Darmstadt Germany, which represents a roughly ninety percent reduction in heating and cooling energy usage and up to a seventy-five percent reduction in primary energy usage from existing building stock – meant to aggressively meet the climate crisis carbon reduction imperative while making a comfortable, healthy and affordable built environment. Passive House is the most cost effective pathway toward the growing demand for net-zero or nearly-net-zero construction. Passive House is also a methodology that requires designers to consider orientation, massing, insulation, heat recovery, passive use of solar energy, solar shading, elimination of thermal bridges, and internal heat sources. The term Passive House may also be used to refer to a building that has been tested and certified to meet the Passive House standard. Passive House buildings are extremely energy efficient, healthy, and comfortable for occupants; predictable to manage, and resilient by design. See