NYC Passive House Projects

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Image courtesy of

It’s great to see how much the Passive House movement is picking up momentum throughout NYC and the world. As New York City looks to reduce 80% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and affordable housing in the city becomes increasingly scarce, more developers are turning to Passive House building methods in order to tackle these problems. Developed by the Passive House Institute (PHI) in Germany, the Passive House is a building standard that minimizes the need for heating and cooling through cost-effective measures such as insulation and heat recovery – also known as passive methods. Contrary to what the name may indicate, a Passive House can be any type of building: an apartment building, a school, an office building, a factory, or a supermarket.  Read my first Passive House article, which has an in-depth explanation of Passive House building standards.

Rendering courtesy of

Rendering courtesy of

As you may have seen in recent news, the world’s tallest and largest Passive House high-rise is set to be completed in 2017 on Roosevelt Island. The residential tower is being developed by Hudson Companies in partnership with Cornell Tech and Related Companies, and will house about 530 graduate students, faculty, and staff on a new campus for Cornell University’s applied sciences school. At 26 stories and 270,000 square feet, the tower surpasses the 20 story Raiffeisenhaus Wien 2 office tower in Vienna, completed in 2012. The Cornell Tech building will maintain a comfortable interior climate while using 60 to 70 percent less energy than a typical high-rise with the help of an airtight envelope and a ventilator system, which will also help reduce allergies and asthma symptoms among residents. With a budget of just $115 million, construction costs will allow apartments to be rented to students below market rate.

The completion of Cornell Tech’s Passive House residential tower is part of a trend in low-energy high-rises in New York City. On June 11, the NY15 Passive House Conference & Expo brought together architects, engineers, developers, property managers, policy advocates, and government administrators to share strategies for developing Passive high-rises and retrofitting existing structures to meet Passive House standards.

There are dozens of Passive House projects underway in New York, some of which are already completed. Here’s a look at some of the latest in New York Passive Houses:

Photo courtesy of  BuildForward

Photo courtesy of BuildForward

174 Grand Street
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

This single-family house was designed and converted by architecture studio Loadingdock5 and was completed in 2011. It has a design shop on the first floor, GGrippo, run by the home’s owner.

23 Park Place
Park Slope, Brooklyn

This 1899 townhouse was retrofitted by design firm Fabrica718 and was the first certified Passive House in New York – since certification is difficult to obtain, many places use the standards without getting certified.

152 Freeman Street
Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Also designed by Loadingdock5, this four-story, seven-unit condo building is being built on a 25’ x 100’ lot. Each floor-through space is about 700 square feet, and every unit has outdoor space. Construction started in 2014, and Loadingdock5 aims to keep construction costs as low as possible to ensure the units will be affordable.

40 Cambridge Place
Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

This wood-frame two-family home is being converted by the owner to meet Passive House standards, and Brownstoner reports that the two-family structure will remain when construction is done. Scaffolding went up in March of this year, and the facade will be restored to match the other historic buildings in the neighborhood.

951 Pacific Street
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Also known as R-951, this building will hold three units, all of which are about 1,500 square feet and priced between $1.49 million and $1.57 million. The building was designed and developed by sustainable construction firm Further, Inc and will have rooftop sun panels and a rainwater harvesting system.

210 Pacific Street
Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

This 10-unit condo building was developed by Nava Companies and designed by SBLM Architects. The condos hit the market in February, and only two remain available: the 2777 square foot penthouse, listed for $5,530,000, and a 3131 square foot 4-bedroom for $4,970,000.

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Photo courtesy of

45-12 11th Street
Long Island City, Queens

Known primarily for its infamous tiled facade which is meant to resemble a cloudy sky, this rowhouse was renovated last year by All Dimension Construction. The air-tight insulation is accompanied by a solar-powered water heater and a greenroof.

255 Columbia Street
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

This 13-unit building is Loadingdock5’s largest project to date. Every apartment has an outdoor space and there’s a green living wall in the lobby. 255 Columbia Street was developed by HPI, and all units sold within a few months of hitting the market in February 2014.

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Photo courtesy of

The Mennonite – 424 Melrose Street
Bushwick, Brooklyn

The country’s first Passive House certified multi-family affordable housing dwelling opened last year, and all 24 units went to senior citizens. The Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council paid to develop the building through federal tax credits along with state funds and private loans, and 8 units were set aside for affordable housing.

Knickerbocker Commons – 803 Knickerbocker Avenue
Bushwick, Brooklyn

Like 424 Melrose Street, Knickerbocker Commons contains 24 apartments for disabled and low-income citizens. Knickerbocker Commons was also developed by Ridgewood Bushwick, and was designed by Chris Benedict of Architecture and Energy Limited.

Perch Harlem – 542 West 153rd Street
Harlem, Manhattan

This 40 unit building is one of Chris Benedict’s larger projects, and is being developed by Synapse. 542 West 153rd is set to be the first Passive House building in Manhattan – Construction began in March of this year.

11 West 126th Street
Harlem, Manhattan

This six-apartment building is giving 542 West 153rd some competition for the title of first Passive House in Manhattan.

138 Sackett Street
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

This seven-unit condo building was developed by Michael Sohne and completed last year. Two of its units, each about around 1000 square feet, are still for sale for $1,195,000 and $1,050,000. The building has a common garden and roof deck, which all tenants are welcome to enjoy.

154 Underhill Avenue
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Russell Unger and Claire Hansen have retrofitted their townhouse with sustainable archtiecture firm thread collective. The couple built a 900 square foot renter’s apartment below their 1,800 square foot duplex. Construction started in Fall 2012.

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Photos courtesy of

Haus96 – 96 St. Marks Avenue
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

This four-story townhouse was developed by Aguayo and Huebner and designed by Ken Levenson. Haus96 was completed in 2012 and contains four apartments.

228 Washington Avenue
Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

The owner of this four-family retrofit rents out rooms to those who are interested in learning what it’s like to live in a Passive House. The renovation was completed in 2013 and was done with the help of Loadingdock5.

ABC No Rio – 165 Rivington Street
Lower East Side, Manhattan

Art institute ABC No Rio released renderings by architect Paul Castrucci in 2012, and the first phase of construction will start as soon as they raise enough funds. The new construction will double ABC No Rio’s gallery and performance spaces.

25 West 88th Street
Upper West Side, Manhattan

Kurt Roeloffs renovated his home with the help of Baxt Ingui Architects, and told The New York Times that adhering to Passive House standards didn’t increase the cost of the renovation project.

20 Garden Place
Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn New York

The owners of this brownstone bought the place in 2011 and retrofitted it for Passive House standards.

338 8th Street
Park Slope, Brooklyn

RedTop Architects turned this three and a half story brownstone into a Passive House, keeping the original carved moldings and hardwood floors in tact. They also built a greenroof and two rooftop terraces.

Rendering courtesy of

Beach Green North
Rockaway, Queens

The Bluestone Organization is co-developing this 101-unit building with L+M Equity Development, and construction is expected to start this summer. All units will meet affordable housing standards, and the building will be constructed to repurpose stormwater and withstand extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy.

78 Third Place
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

This townhouse is currently under construction by Baxt Ingui Architects and is targeting net-zero energy usage.

16 Third Place
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Another project by Baxt Ingui Architects, this townhouse is aiming for net-zero energy usage as well.

53 West 71st Street
Lincoln Square, Manhattan

Baxt Ingui Architects will seek Passive House certification standards for this Manhattan project, rather than simply using the building standards.

146 Willow Street
Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn

This Baxt Ingui Architects project will seek passive house certification as well.

465 Washington Street
Hudson Square, Manhattan

Zakrzewski + Hyde Architects will gut and renovate this apartment building, and add a five-story addition to double its size.

852 St John’s Place
Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Zakrzewski + Hyde Architects filed plans in December to build a five-story, seven-unit building, which is being developed by Justin Stewart. The 3,100 square foot building will contain 5,800 square feet of residential space after remodeling.

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Photo courtesy of

Ditmas Passsive House
Ditmas Park, Brooklyn

This is the 1930s Victorian house that my wife and I purchased last Fall, and which we will be renovating to fit Passive House standards with Zakrzewski + Hyde Architects, while documenting the renovation on a soon-to-launch blog.

Bright’n Green – 67 Brighton First Lane
Brighton Beach, Brooklyn

Architect Robert Scarano designed this six-story, multifamily residential building which contains four duplex lofts and two flats. Apartments are priced between $349,000 and $899,000, and residents will have no energy bills since Bright’n Green has achieved net zero energy usage.

Green Stuy – 731 Jefferson Avenue
Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

The owners of this brownstone are retrofitting their home to meet Passive House standards with the help of architect Julie Torres Moskovitz of Fabrica718. The design approach is to “gut” as little as possible, minimize the waste produced, and to use low VOC, natural non-petrochemical products.

EnerPHit – 372 6th Street
Park Slope, Brooklyn

Build with Prospect is retrofitting this two-family, three-story brick townhouse with Passive House certified windows.

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