9/16/2015

First Building in NYC Receives Both Net Zero Capable Rating and Passive House Certifications

The R-951 Residence, located at 951 Pacific Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, is the first New York City building to receive both a Net Zero Capable Rating and a Passive House certification. While Passive Houses have become increasingly mainstream in countries like Germany, the United States has been slow to follow the worldwide trend of making homes more energy efficient. The introduction of R-951 Residence to the nation’s largest city shows that the U.S. is beginning to adopt these standards, which can be highly beneficial for residents and the environment.

What is Passive House Certification?

Passive House certification is a distinction given to homes and buildings that have achieved certain standards for energy efficiency and building envelop tightness. To meet Passive House standards, builders must follow certain principles, such as employing high-performance windows and doors, installing an energy recovery ventilation (ERV) system, putting continuous insulation in place throughout the entire building envelope without any thermal bridging, and utilizing solar gains to exploit the sun’s energy for heating purposes. Passive house principles can be applied to all building types, not just homes.

What is a Net Zero Capable Rating?

Net Zero Capable Rating is a distinction given to buildings that rely on energy conservation and on-site renewable generation to meet all of the buildings electricity, heating, and cooling needs. To achieve Net Zero performance, energy saving features and techniques are used in the building design. Design elements and techniques include solar thermal systems, solar electric generating systems, windows positioned to utilize solar gains for heat, advanced lighting designs, and controls that take advantage of natural light, and ERVs or HRVs.

Beautiful, Comfortable Apartments

The R-951 Residence is a row house that contains three 1,500 square foot apartments. Each apartment has a loft layout and high ceilings, so inhabitants do not have to compromise space or style. The triple glazed tilt and turn windows provide a view, as well as natural ventilation and light. There are even outdoor gardens that can be watered using the buildings 1,200-gallon rainwater harvesting system.

Rooftop Solar System

A rooftop solar system provides each apartment with about 4 kW of energy, which is enough to power all appliances while covering heating or cooling needs. The energy is grid-tied in accordance with regulations. There is an outlet that can be used for daytime backup power in the event of a power outage.

Ventilation and Air Quality

Since the R-951 Residence was designed with an extremely tight building to envelop, adequate ventilation is of the utmost importance to ensure good air quality. A Zehnder energy recovery ventilation system was installed in the building so that energy is not lost through the ventilation system. This system helps to heat incoming fresh air using the heat from the outgoing air in the cooler months and cool incoming air by transferring heat from the incoming air to the outgoing air during the warmer months. The building’s ERV helps to keep air quality high while maintaining temperature.