Sneaking 'round Passivhaus in Brooklyn
Last Tuesday (Jan 18, 2011), I trekked out to Brooklyn's famously hip neighborhood Williamsburg for an open house of Loadingdock5 Architecture's new PassivHaus project. When I got there, I found out the party had been cancelled. To my good fortune, I talked my way into the building - and got a guided tour by one of the owners, nonetheless. Inside it was a typical construction site with building materials, ladders and typed windows. The tour showed me something that I had not noticed before - these super energy efficient buildings are not some space-age hybrid structure needing scientists to put it together. They are like any other building except they have a little more attention to detail - and in the case of LoadingDock5, style.
Image Credit: Loadingdock5 Architecture PLLC
The envelope design includes load-bearing walls with 8 inches of concrete masonry units and 7 inches of EPS exterior insulation. Inner city locations don't have ideal solar access, so a Solar Gain Study was performed to know how to inform the best climatic connectivity.The south facing wall (in the back of the building) has tremendous windows that were custom-made in Europe. They allow for passive heating during the winter - and will have shading for the warmer months. The parapet are made of autoclave aerated concrete blocks to avoid thermal bridging and unnecessary thermal exchange. The entrance door is a customize 3 inch thick wood panel that gives a nice character to the street façade.
The mechanical design includes one 1.5 tons Daikin VRV Mitsubishi Mini Split Heat Pump ducted indoor unit for remaining heating and cooling demand rated for about 18,000 BTU. Zehnder ComfoAir 350 Enery Recovery Ventilator provides the fresh air to the three stories of interior space and doubles as a heating/cooling system depending on the season.
During a telephone interview with one of the architects of the project, Sam Bargetz, he said that PassivHaus are not futuristic at all and more people are starting to know about them. He informed me that last than three years ago, most people didn't know it was...even in the design and construction world. With projects like the one I visited in Brooklyn, the trend will most likely only get hotter as people see just how easy it is to build this way.
Bargetz also let me know that the open house will be reschedule...hopefully next time a party will be going on when I get there :)
More on PassivHaus:
A Picture Worth TEN Thousand Words: A Passivhaus in New York
Ultra-Urban Passive House Built in New York City
Passivhaus in the New York Times
Denmark Debuts First Certified Passive House