Passionate About Passive House: Boone Avenue briefing features multifamily and commercial projects, dedication of training facility

On November 15th, the Association for Energy Affordability (AEA) hosted an event that combined technical presentations of multifamily and commercial passive house projects with the formal opening of its Certified Passive House Tradesperson Lab in the Bronx.  The briefing was organized as a collaboration of the Passive House Academy (PHA) of Wicklow, Ireland, New York Passive House (NYPH) and AEA.  Klearwall, a maker of attractive, high quality energy efficient windows and doors, sponsored the event.

“Passive House” is an efficient building standard that saves up to 85% on space heating and cooling. It is rapidly becoming a leading energy efficiency and comfort standard for all building types internationally. This 21 year-old standard has been achieved in over 40,000 projects, including multifamily properties, assisted living facilities, low-income housing, market-rate condominium developments, commercial properties, and schools, as well as single family homes.

Adam Romano, AEA’s Director of Training Operations, moderated the briefing, which included an overview of the Passive House standard by Tomás O’Leary, a contractor’s perspective on Passive House, and presentations by four panelists about their current and recent multifamily and commercial Passive House projects.  The panelists, designers and builders, discussed innovations and challenges involved in applying passive house principles to each project.

Mr. O’Leary, co-founder and managing director of Passive House Academy, announced a goal of achieving over 2 million square feet of passive housing by 2017, intended to stimulate new passive house production in New York City.

Sam McAfee of 475 Building Supply focused his remarks confronting the notion that building to passive house standards is more costly than conventional construction methods.  He also described a mapping project he has undertaken to track passive house projects in New York City.

Tim McDonald of Onion Flats and its affiliated building and manufacturing firms in Philadelphia presented the ambitious and affordable modular approaches his firm is utilizing in a variety of passive house projects for both low-income and market rate housing.

Robert Scarano introduced a nearly complete 6-unit passive house condominium project in Brighton Beach) that is working its way toward multiple certifications and incorporating novel approaches to ventilation and soil remediation.

Chris Benedict presented a 24-unit multifamily passive house structure. One of the innovative construction methods she incorporated into her passive house design was to reposition the bearing walls along the shorter sides of the building, with intermediate parallel bearing walls on the interior, as opposed to bearing walls along the longer sides of the building as in typical construction. With the use of Syntheon’s insulated curtain wall system on the longer walls, the building is able to achieve a higher envelope R-value without sacrificing building space.

Adam Cohen of Structures Design/Build in Roanoke, VA showcased several residential, educational and dental facilities built to the PH standard.  Like some of his colleagues, he relied solely on renewable energy and electricity for affordable heating, based on the levels of air-sealing and insulation achieved in the properties.

Following a question and answer session, Adam Romano and other AEA trainers walked attendees through the features of the model passive house and other models and mock-ups used for installer training at the Lab.

AEA and PHA have agreed to deliver both Passive House Consultant and Tradesperson classes at AEA’s New York City facilities. The courses prepare students to take examinations for internationally recognized certifications from the Passivhaus Institut in Germany. PH Consultant classes for are taught by Tomás O’Leary of PHA at AEA’s Midtown location, while the hands-on PH Tradesperson courses are held at AEA’s Installer Training Lab in the Bronx. Tradesperson classes are taught by AEA’s certified Passive House Tradesmen trainers Adam Romano, Kevin Brennan and Nate Price in conjunction with PHA trainers.

Thursday’s briefing was attended by some 70 persons including architects, contractors and developers from across the Northeast.

AEA’s next Passive House Tradesperson course will begin on January 21st, followed by a PH Consultant course on January 30th.

Please see a full press release for the event here.

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