Brooklyn

Press in AIA News Letter : In the News November by Paul Castrucci

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November 16, 2017
by Linda G. Miller

Passive Private House
A recently-completed two-family row house at 158 Clifton in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn achieves a near Net Zero energy capability. Designed by Paul A. Castrucci Architect, the 4,000-square-foot, wood-framed structure was gut-renovated to the Passive House New York EnerPHit standard to create a three-story residence, plus an additional apartment in the basement. The project uses recycled materials throughout. The front façade, which is a reinterpretation of the historic vernacular, is clad in blackened ship-lap siding. The process of burning the exterior of the wood, known as Shou Sugi Ban, protects it from the elements, making a wood façade that will be virtually maintenance-free for decades. By applying the process to recycled Douglas fir that otherwise would be unsuitable for exterior use, the design makes the best use of the material and prevents it from being discarded. On the rear façade, wooden slats recycled from the Coney Island boardwalk create a modern rain screen. The roof insulation is recycled polyiso, and reclaimed wood will also be used throughout the interior. Mechanical systems are designed to minimize energy use. High-efficiency mini-split units heat and cool the apartments and are much smaller than in typical apartments due to the reduced heating and cooling loads. Hot water is supplied with heat pump hot water heaters, and LED lighting is used throughout. A 7.5kW solar photovoltaic array is installed on the roof. The project was featured in the International Passive House Days, an annual event that offers builders, engineers, architects, and green building enthusiasts tours of Passive House projects with their designers.

Link to original news letter

Instagram Update: Open House New York at Clifton Residence by Paul Castrucci

David of #rightenvironment preparing for #blowdoor #demonstration after question and answer session in #bedstuy #rowhouse

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@zamboni_i and Alan of #sawkilllumbers during the question and answer segment at @openhousenewyork in #bedstuy #brooklyn

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#kitchen tours at #clifton #residence for @openhousenewyork with grayson the #projectarchitect

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@openhousenewyork in #bedstuy #brooklyn with david of Right Environments talking about #mechanical #systems

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@openhousenewyork grayson the #projectarchitect with @riseboronyc

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Press in LifeHacker - Paul A. Castrucci award winning Net Zero Project by Paul Castrucci

R-951’s apartments are large and airy, filled with crisp, bright light from giant windows. The white walls and stainless-steel appliances make the apartment feel minimalist yet cozy. Each unit is 1,500 square feet and comes with its own outdoor space, rare in much of Brooklyn.

R-951 is unique in another way. The building boasts net-zero status, which means each apartment only uses as much energy as it produces. One way it does so is through Passive House design principles, which are used to attain a high level of energy-efficiency. The methodology reduces R-951’s energy usage by about 75%. In fact, it’s the first building in New York that is both Passive House–certified and net-zero capable.

Paul Castrucci, the principal architect of the firm behind R-951, says that this energy reduction comes from three key areas: super-insulatingreducing air leaks, and recycling and recovering energy where possible. For example, the entire perimeter of the building is super-insulated, which minimizes energy loss. The doors and windows are triple-glazed and the walls and roof, as well as underneath the concrete slab, each have six inches of insulation. Buildings often lose energy through air leaks. To avoid that, the firm air-sealed the entire building and taped around doors and windows to prevent air loss.

R-951 also utilizes an energy-recovery ventilation system to recycle energy and further reduce heat loss. Since R-951 has no air leaks, there has to be a way to bring fresh air into the building — but in the winter, that air may be quite cold. A typical building “exhausts all the air from the kitchens and bathrooms,” Castrucci says, which means that a lot of valuable warm air is leaving the building. The energy-recovery ventilation system acts as a heat exchanger, and thus reduces energy loads by using this warm air in a controlled way, by way of tubes that never cross-contaminate. “There’s incoming air in a series of tubes that’s right next to the hot air that’s going out, he says. “This [system] recovers the heat going out and transfers it to the air coming in.”

In addition to addressing practical energy concerns, the apartments were designed in a thoughtful way so they are liveable and comfortable. “I think the lightness and the light colors reflect the fresh air,” Castrucci says. This balance between aesthetics and practicalities is further reflected in the apartments’ interiors. Take the wood flooring: It’s warm, rich, and modern; and it’s also sourced in a sustainable manner. Though finding this wood required a few extra phone calls and a small upcharge (less than 5%), Castrucci notes that finding responsibly grown woods is getting “easier and easier.”

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The roof has a rainwater collection system, which irrigates all the plants in the building, as well as 52 solar panels, which produce renewable energy. If there’s a power outage, residents can plug directly into these panels to heat their apartment or run their fridge.

Solar panels are a surprisingly effective way for homeowners who want to save energy but can’t spend the time or money to build a totally new house. “Solar panels make a big difference,” Castrucci says. “You have a better investment investing in [them] then you do in the stock market.”

Another accessible way all homeowners can learn from R-951 is through its appliances. Castrucci says homeowners looking to increase their home’s efficiency can look to simple things like everyday lighting. “Everyone should be using LED bulbs,” he says. EnergyStar appliances are another easy way to increase efficiency. If you are able to replace your windows, you should use “the best window that you can afford with the highest R-value” (a measure of thermal resistance and level of insulation).

R-951’s apartments all come with induction stoves. With a gas stove, only 20 to 30% of the heat is transferred to a pot. Indoor gas stoves also contribute a high amount of indoor air pollutants. “When you have a building that’s so airtight, all those indoor air pollutants [build up] and it’s not good,” he says. The electric induction stove from GE solves the problem, and 90% of the energy goes right into the pot. “You’re saving energy, and it’s a more efficient, cleaner way of cooking.”

While building a Passive House may not be achievable for everyone, smaller improvements like adding solar panels and upgrading your appliances can go a long way. Screw in a long-lasting and energy-saving GE LED light bulb, for example, and you’ll be well on your way to savings.

Nandita Raghuram is a Senior Writer at Studio@Gizmodo. She tweetshere.

This post is a sponsored collaboration between GE Lighting and Studio@Gizmodo.

Photographs by Timothy Bell. 

Link to original blog post

#NotOurWall : Paul Castrucci Architect firm is against the Southern Border Wall by Paul Castrucci

Wednesday morning the firm quickly and unanimously voted to take the firm pledge proposed by The Architecture Lobby.  The firm's philosophy is contrary to the spirit of the border wall as the firm consists of design professionals committed to sustainability, equity, and community.

The Architecture Lobby is calling for a national day of action on March 10th, 2017 at 4pm EST, 3pm CST, 2pm MST, 1pm PST in opposition to the building of the southwestern border wall proposed by the Trump administration and the Department of Homeland Security. While there are innumerable reasons to stand against the immigration policies of the current  administration and this project specifically, this call is motivated by the belief that the fields of architecture, and engineering are fundamentally rooted in a goal to improve our societies by producing structures that render them more just, more equitable, and more beautiful. The southwestern border wall stands in clear and direct opposition to this goal.

By participating in this day of action, architects and engineers will make clear not only to the current and future administrations, but also to themselves and each other, that their agency will not be exploited in the service of xenophobia, discrimination and racism. Link to full press release

FIRM PLEDGE

If your firm is against the Southern Border Wall, publicly pledge that they will not work on this project or pursue any contracts from the DHS.

Download and print the Firm Pledge and declare your firm’s commitment to  your civic and social principles!

See below to view those who have taken the firm pledge and have publicly affirmed their ethical convictions.

Brooklyn Community Groups Co-Sponsor Town Hall Meeting by Paul Castrucci

Two important non-profit community groups, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration and Bridge Street Development Corporation, co-sponsored  the Mayor's first town hall meeting in Bed-Stuy. Brooklyn's Community Board 3 also co-sponsored and various representatives of city agencies also attended and give opening remarks or where on hand to address audience questions.  A representative of Paul A. Castrucci Architect attended to support the community groups an to ask critical questions on the state of affordable and sustainable housing in Brooklyn. 

Mayor Bill De Blasio with Council member Robert Cornegy Jr as moderator

Mayor Bill De Blasio with Council member Robert Cornegy Jr as moderator

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Inside the Dinsmore-Chestnut RFP Pre-submission Conference : One of the most Influential Development Projects In Brooklyn Post-2017 by Paul Castrucci

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is inviting developers to submit proposals for a new construction project in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. 

The site is owned by the City of New York and is located within Community District 5 on Block 4142, Part of Lot 32, which is bounded by Atlantic Avenue, Chestnut Street, and Dinsmore Place. HPD wants the project to have affordable housing that meets the economic needs of the community and the city as a whole.  During the pre-submission conference HPD representatives insisted that development teams that incorporate Community Visioning Workshop Report, sustainable design and achieve Enterprise Green Communities Certification would be prioritized.  

The Community Visioning Workshop Report summary of findings:

  • Affordable housing may include multi-family, senior, and/or supportive housing. 
  • The Development must also include quality commercial and/or community facility uses.
  • Incorporate a green roof and support urban agriculture.
  • Integrate local arts and artists into the building design and public spaces.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is aiming to generate 200 affordable apartment on this East New York half-acre site and in 2016 the site under a controversial rezoning according to Crain's New York Business reporter Joe Anuta.  The city-owned lot has been vacant for decades depressing the local economy and well being of the community.  Paul A. Castrucci Architect firm's philosophy supports the Community Visioning Workshop Report and the city's development goals as outlined in the request for proposal : Equity, Economy and Environment. 

Open House Event: 158 Clifton Place, Brooklyn by Paul Castrucci

For the 13th International Passive House Days Paul A. Castrucci, RA and Grayson Jordan, RA gave guided open house tour of 158 Clifton Place, Brooklyn on Friday,  November 11 at 1 p.m. The architects held an educational event on site for builders, engineers, architects, developers, affordable homeowners and green building enthusiasts to learn more about this Passive House retro-fit (EnerPhit). This Brooklyn project is of an 1887 wooden row house, and is located in the historic Clinton Hill neighborhood. In addition to Passive House construction, the project will feature a 7.5 kW solar array and reclaimed wood on the exterior facades and throughout the interior. 

 Partners for this project include, The Right Environments, SawKill Lumber and Blue Line Construction.

Brooklyn Open House: 2016 New York Passive House Day | Nov. 11, 2016 by Paul Castrucci

158 Clifton Place, Brooklyn | Friday - November 11, 1 PM  

RSVP on New York Passive House website - Link to RSVP 

 

For Immediate Release:

New York City - Paul A. Castrucci, Architect joins New York Passive House (NYPH) for the 13th International Passive House Days. NYPH tours offer the public and industry experts a first hand interaction with Passive Houses. Paul A. Castrucci, RA and Grayson Jordan, RA will guide the open house tour of 158 Clifton Place, Brooklyn on Friday,  November 11 at 1 p.m. The architects will also hold a discussion and educational event on site for builders, engineers, architects, developers, affordable homeowners and green building enthusiasts to learn more about the project.  

158 Clifton Place is a Passive House retro-fit (EnerPhit) of an 1887 wooden row house, and is located in the historic Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. In addition to Passive House construction, the project will feature a 7.5 kW solar array and reclaimed wood on the exterior facades and throughout the interior.  Partners for this project include, The Right EnvironmentsSawKill Lumber and Blue Line Construction.

Passive House is an international building standard developed in the 1990s by the Passive House Institute of Darmstadt Germany.  The firm is committed to building to Passive House standards, reducing building energy use through passive measures and components such as insulation, airtightness, heat recovery, solar heat gains, solar shading and incidental internal heat gains. Passive House buildings are comfortable, affordable and create deep reductions in environmental/carbon footprint. 

New York Passive House is an independent not-for-profit organization that facilitates the exchange of information and experiences, among local, national and international practitioners of the Passive House building standard. 

Paul A. Castrucci, Architect is an early adapter of Passive House construction having completed R-951, which is New York City’s first Net Zero Capable, Passive House certified residence. The firm has over thirty years of experience in sustainable practices with a focus on residential buildings, arts facilities and community centers. The firm’s body of work reflects the firms commitment to sustainability in design and construction. The materials and building systems the firm employs are selected for their low environmental impact and maximum energy efficiency. The firm values building principles that employ both passive and active strategies to generate energy and significantly reduce energy use. The firm’s projects typically incorporate systems like passive and active solar heating, photovoltaic electricity generation and schemes for natural day lighting and ventilation. 

Special thanks to our partners

Press contact: Rosalinda@castrucciarchitect.com
T. 212.254.7060 x 612

Press in Doggerel - Passive house: A road map for radically reducing energy consumption? by Paul Castrucci

By Alex Ulam / June 30, 2015 

This winter was one of the coldest on record in New York City, and many property owners saw major spikes in their energy bills. However, thanks to passive house technology and a glazed glass south-facing façade, the occupants of a recently retrofitted townhouse in Park Slope, Brooklyn, were able to leave the heat off even when temperatures outside fell below zero. According to the architect, the building’s cooling and heating systems consumed less than a fifth of the energy needed to keep neighboring townhouses at a comfortable temperature.

The project’s designer, a firm called Build with Prospect, bills itself as the first worker cooperative in New York City’s construction industry. Build with Prospect also is one of the first firms in the city to start doing passive house retrofits. And although construction costs for a Build with Prospect retrofit range from 4 to 7% more than conventional construction, the energy savings are so significant that a building can start yielding paybacks within as little as four years.

“The nice thing about a passive house is that the results are verifiable,” Build with Prospect architect Nate Priputen says, noting that the energy-efficiency standard, which was developed in Germany in the early 1990s, is a holistic system based upon strict measurements of total energy usage and air circulation. In contrast, the US Green Building Council’s LEED checklist system awards points for various other environmental benchmarks in addition to energy efficiency.

Drawing of one of Brooklyn’s first new-construction passive house buildings, designed by Paul A. Castrucci Architect; finished apartment seen above

Drawing of one of Brooklyn’s first new-construction passive house buildings, designed by Paul A. Castrucci Architect; finished apartment seen above

The passive house movement is strongest in Central Europe, where most of the more than 9,500 buildings certified as meeting its exacting energy efficiency criteria are located — in addition to the tens of thousands of buildings that have been built with passive house technology but not certified. A growing number of cities, such as Brussels and Frankfurt, are incorporating passive house standards into their building codes, and passive house–oriented masterplans are being developed for entire neighborhoods. And with the new European Union requirement that as of 2020 all new buildings meet “nearly zero” energy standards, meaning that they be built with a very high level of energy performance, the passive house model is destined to become even more prevalent.

With the growing concern about climate change, passive house is finally catching on in the United States.
— http://doggerel.arup.com/passive-house-a-road-map-for-radically-reducing-energy-consumption/

In New York City, one of the leaders in the United States for this type of construction, only a handful of buildings have been certified as passive house. But with the growing concern about climate change and the burgeoning interest in “zero net” carbon emission strategies, the approach is finally catching on in this country. The New York City government’s recently published One City: Built to Last report, which lays out a road map for reducing the city’s carbon footprint, discusses passive house as a potential energy performance guideline for all new construction.

The passive house standard requires a tightly sealed and heavily insulated building envelope to ensure optimum energy efficiency. The minimum airtightness level allowed is 0.6 air changes per hour under 50 pascals of pressure. To ensure that a house is in compliance with this limit and that there are no leaks, the building’s designers conduct an on-site blower door test. “The biggest challenge is the sealing,” says Priputen, adding, “If you have a weak spot you have to make all of the other areas stronger in terms of insulation and air sealing.”

Paul A. Castrucci Architect’s new home for ABC No Rio, a community arts organization, is slated to become the first commercial passive house building in New York City.

Paul A. Castrucci Architect’s new home for ABC No Rio, a community arts organization, is slated to become the first commercial passive house building in New York City.

The other main pillar of passive house construction is a compact air and heat exchange system that conserves energy by transferring heat and/or moisture between incoming and outgoing streams of air. Designers specify one of two systems, depending on the site’s climate: heat recovery ventilators (HRVs), which transfer only heat, or energy recovery ventilators (ERVs), which transfer both heat and moisture.

We look at a solid new concrete wall in the back of the building, which is 18in thick as opposed to the 10in that Priputen says would be the standard for a new wall in a New York City townhouse. Accounting for part of the new wall’s thickness is expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation, which removes the need for formwork made of plywood or metal. Not only does EPS insulation result in a more efficient construction process, it also eliminates the enormous amount of waste from the more typical plywood and metal formwork that is generally disposed of after the concrete has set in conventional construction.

Along with the superinsulated walls, passive house construction generally features windows with an R-7 insulation value or higher. (Insulation value calculations can be highly complex. For the sake of comparison, however, a typical single-paned window has an R-0 value.) These triple-paned windows, which are only beginning to be manufactured in the United States, lower the heat loads while keeping the inside face of the glass significantly warmer, greatly reducing cold spots within a room.

Although the passive house standard is much more prevalent in Europe, it evolved out of research conducted in the United States back in the 1970s, when the country was in the throes of an oil crisis. In fact, two of the prototypes for passive house construction were built in the 1970s by a team headed by the architect Wayne Schick at the University of Illinois. The University of Illinois team determined that most houses lost heat through cracks and thermal bridging. So to eliminate thermal bridging and air leaks, the team used double-stud walls and massive amounts of insulation, which Schick dubbed “superinsulation.” Of course, removing all of the natural ventilation made getting fresh air into the house a challenge, especially during winter months. To compensate for the lack of natural ventilation, Schick and his team developed one of the world’s first HRV systems.

ABC No Rio rendering

ABC No Rio rendering

While the University of Illinois team’s research failed to bring about immediate changes in the American building industry, it caught on in Germany, where engineer Wolfgang Feist used it as the basis for the original passive house standard, developed in 1991.

A number of factors have led to the passive house standard taking so many years to catch on in the United States. One of the challenges, according to Priputen, was the imperviousness of the insulating membranes available in the 1970s, which trapped water vapors with dire consequences. “It created mold and degraded entire buildings,” he says. “People moved away from it, and it has taken this long to embrace that way of building again.”

Passive house is strongest in Germany and Austria.
— http://doggerel.arup.com/passive-house-a-road-map-for-radically-reducing-energy-consumption/

However, the political climate in the United States also appears to have played a part in retarding advances in building science. “The story in the US is that we took energy efficiency seriously for about eight years in the 1970s, and then Reagan got elected and it all got shut down,” declares Ken Levenson, a founding board member of New York Passive House, a nonprofit advocacy organization; and a founding partner of 475 High Performance Building Supply, which specializes in passive house building materials and technology.

In addition to politics, Levenson says that differences in national architectural education standards have led some parts of the world to adopt the system much faster. “[Passive house] is strongest in Germany and Austria, where there are the highest technical capabilities and the architects and engineers are much more aligned culturally with it,” he says.

Until recently, cost premiums also were a limiting factor to the passive house standard becoming a commercially viable alternative in this country. For example, up until about five years ago, there were only a couple of importers of passive house–quality triple-paned windows to the United States, says Levenson, but now there are more than a dozen importers and the cost has come down significantly. “Passive house windows were more than twice the cost of a decent American double-paned window,” he says. “Today, you would probably get it for a 25% upcharge.”

Although passive house products such as imported high-performance triple-paned windows still sell for a slight premium, they significantly pay off in the long run by eliminating thermal bridges, creating airtightness, and increasing comfort for inhabitants. “Consequently, you don’t need to have perimeter radiator heating or air conditioning — you can get rid of all of those mechanical systems and pull them back to the core of the building,” Levenson says. “Because of the optimization, which should be driving energy loads down by 85 or 90%, there typically is 75% reduction in size of mechanical systems needed for heating and cooling.”

One architect practicing in New York has even found a way to incorporate passive house technology into affordable housing. Chris Benedict, principal of Architecture and Energy Limited, has built two 24-unit affordable housing developments in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn that are on the way to achieving passive house certification. Currently, she is getting ready to break ground on a market-rate 40-unit apartment house, which will be the first passive house residential building in Manhattan.

According to Benedict, who has been designing energy-efficient buildings in New York City since 1996, the growing popularity of the passive house standard has made it easier to sell her specialized skills to clients. “I was in the energy-efficiency world prior to the arrival of the passive house standard in the US,” she says. “Before, if I was going to talk with people about energy-efficient buildings, I would have to talk about tons of different things. Now all I have to do is say passive house.”

In addition to being responsible for several of the largest passive house developments built to date in this country, Benedict has also played a role in getting zoning and building codes changed to make these types of buildings more cost effective for developers. For example, in New York City, prior to zoning code changes, developers interested in more energy-efficient buildings actually stood to lose the amount of allowable floor area because of the extra wall thickness that passive house requires. “In new construction it was a tough nut to crack for developers,” Benedict says. “What is nicer for developers than a glass building where the wall thickness is 2 inches? That is a lot more developable floor area because the wall thickness was counted as part of the floor area of the building.”

However, three years ago, Benedict successfully lobbied the New York City Planning Commission to allow floor area bonuses for extra insulation on both preexisting and new construction. As a result, on new construction in New York City, any building that has a wall thickness of more than 8in does not count as floor area so long as the wall assembly has a higher R-value than the current building code’s R-value requirement.

The change in the zoning code is already paying off for Benedict’s clients. On the market-rate passive house Manhattan apartment building that Benedict designed, she has been able to recover about 800ft2 of floor area for the developer in exchange for providing walls that exceed the New York City Building Code’s insulation requirements. This amount “was the cumulative extra thickness of insulation that didn’t have to count as floor area,” she said.

Currently, there is a debate within the US building science community as to which passive house standard to adopt. Most of the existing passive house buildings in the United States have received their accreditation from the original Passive House Institute (PHI), founded in Germany. And in order to receive PHI certification, an inspection is required by one of the institute’s accredited inspectors. However, there is also a Belgian Passive House standard, as well as a Swedish Passive House standard. In 2007, several architects split from the German passive house standard and founded their own organization called Passive House Institute US (PHIUS).

One of the big bones of contention between the German-based PHI and PHIUS is a difference of opinion over what a building’s maximum energy loads should be in order to qualify for certification. Benedict says that the PHI standards are impractical for very hot or very cold climates in the US that are unlike that of Germany, and that it would be more practical to have limits on peak energy loads rather than on yearly energy use. “One of the reasons we haven’t had the huge launch that could have happened in this country is because of the rift and the fighting that has been going on,” she says. “That has confused the marketplace a bit, and it also has confused practitioners who hear one thing and then another, so they don’t know which way to turn.”

It will doubtless take time for the competition between the different passive house institutes in this country to play out, and perhaps there is room for several different types of standards. Meanwhile, it has become much easier to build these types of buildings as a result of passive house technology becoming significantly more affordable and regulatory barriers being removed in places like New York City. With US cities tightening their energy codes, it seems clear that the building industry in this country will soon need to know a great deal more about passive house technology than it does now.

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Press in Dwell : R-951 New York, New York by Paul Castrucci

This project page was created by community member  Patrick Sisson

This project page was created by community member Patrick Sisson

The R-951 project shows ultra-efficient, green construction is possible in the big city.

At the edge of the Prospect Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn, near the Barclays Center, a new development is pushing the edge of sustainability and green construction. R-951, a series of three 1,500-square-foot, open-loft style apartments that went up this spring, are some of the city’s first Passive House-certified and net-zero buildings, bringing solar-powered living to a medium-density section of New York. According to architect Paul Castrucci, “It’s important for me not to be wasteful and use more fuel for many reasons, so I’ve been designing more energy-efficient buildings. This is the most aggressive so far. With the solar array on the roof, it’s like each apartment has its own solar system.” Castrucci showed us the spacious interior, which despite its green bonafides still captures the airy, open feel normally associated with urban living.

Architect Paul Castrucci found that when designing a passive house for an urban environment, he didn’t have to take many extreme measures as long as the apartment layout was smart and strategic. Like many efficient homes of this caliber, the 13-16 inch thick walls provide serious insulation and a tight envelope.
— Patrick Sisson
“We estimate for a high-quality, efficient project like this, there will be a five percent premium on standard costs,” says Castrucci, who worked with Further Inc. on the project. “It’s not an extreme cost.” The kitchen includes white oak flooring, stone countertops, and Electrolux appliances.

“We estimate for a high-quality, efficient project like this, there will be a five percent premium on standard costs,” says Castrucci, who worked with Further Inc. on the project. “It’s not an extreme cost.” The kitchen includes white oak flooring, stone countertops, and Electrolux appliances.

As far as Castrucci is concerned, he’s a modern architect with a modern view of the world, and that includes sustainability and aesthetics. “Good architecture will always relate to the sun and light; that’s important,” he says. In addition, with a solar array on the roof providing about a 4.2 kilowatt system per apartment, it’s like each resident has their own utility company.

As far as Castrucci is concerned, he’s a modern architect with a modern view of the world, and that includes sustainability and aesthetics. “Good architecture will always relate to the sun and light; that’s important,” he says. In addition, with a solar array on the roof providing about a 4.2 kilowatt system per apartment, it’s like each resident has their own utility company.

Castrucci has been trying to build something like this for a few years, and now feels his team has proof of concept. “We feel that anybody building in this area could achieve a net-zero building. This is showing what’s possible in the future for other developers.”

Castrucci has been trying to build something like this for a few years, and now feels his team has proof of concept. “We feel that anybody building in this area could achieve a net-zero building. This is showing what’s possible in the future for other developers.”

Castrucci has also built in a rainwater collection system that will, based on estimates, will be able to take care of just about all the irrigation and landscaping needs of the property.

Castrucci has also built in a rainwater collection system that will, based on estimates, will be able to take care of just about all the irrigation and landscaping needs of the property.

An additional benefit of this kind of home construction is the quiet produced by triple-glazed window and a thick building envelope. For those wanting to escape the noise of the city, there's nothing better.

An additional benefit of this kind of home construction is the quiet produced by triple-glazed window and a thick building envelope. For those wanting to escape the noise of the city, there's nothing better.

Each unit in the building was priced at roughly $1.5 million

Each unit in the building was priced at roughly $1.5 million

Press CurbedNY : Mapping New York City's Booming Passive House Movement by Paul Castrucci

Wednesday, April 8, 2015, by Jessica Dailey

Seeing as Brooklyn is the artisanal, organic heartbeat of New York City, it should come as no surprise that the latest trend in sustainable building is spreading across the borough. Passive buildings, built to "passive house" standards imported from Germany, are popping up all over the place (even the Times is noticing), and they have an intrigue not found in plain ol' LEED certified buildings. It's not that they look exotic (though sometimes they do), but it's that they function entirely differently from traditional buildings. Passive houses are all about insulation, so they are virtually airtight and use up to 90 percent less energy to heat and cool, making standard heating and cooling systems completely unnecessary. From single-family homes to affordable housing complexes, dozens of developments across New York City have adopted the eco-friendly building techniques. To track the trend, we mapped 21 28 passive buildings in New York, most of which are in Brooklyn. Know of one we missed? Please do leave a comment or drop us a line.

Select Passive Houses in New York City

(as seen in CurbedNY)


abcnorio.jpg

ABC NO RIO

156 RIVINGTON ST, NEW YORK, NY 10002

(212) 254-3697

WEBSITE

 

For years, art institution ABC No Rio has been planning to makeover its Rivington Street headquarters, and work is finally supposed to start in 2015. Renderings were revealed in 2012, and the tenement will be renovated to passive house and LEED standards.


951 PACIFIC STREET

951 PACIFIC STREET, BROOKLYN, NY 11238

WEBSITE

Prospect Heights is getting a batch of futuristically named condos on Pacific Street. Called R-951, the small building will hold just three apartments, and it is aiming to be net zero, allowing owners to live without external power sources. It will have rooftop sun panels, rainwater harvesting system, and extreme insulation measures, as passive houses do. All units are about 1,500 square feet and priced between $1.49 million and $1.57 million.

Press in Inhabitat : Brooklyn’s First Passive House Condo Building Rises in Prospect Heights by Paul Castrucci

by Bridgette Meinhold, 04/14/14

Brooklyn is quickly becoming a hotbed of passive design, and the borough is set to have another Passive House feather in its cap soon. The R-951 Residence is an ambitious three-story project that is currently under construction in Prospect Heights. When complete, the building is expected to be the first net-zero, solar-powered, passive house condo in the area. Built and designed by Paul Castrucci Architect and Ray Sage of Race Age, Inc., the three-family residence will feature a net-metered, rooftop solar system to provide enough energy for all three households as well as a backyard, deck and rooftop space for residents to enjoy the outdoors and grow their own food. We're definitely putting ourselves on the waiting list!

Read more: Brooklyn's First Passive House Condo Goes Up in Prospect Heights | Inhabitat New York City 

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Currently under construction, the R-951 Residence in Brooklyn is aiming to become the first net zero, solar powered, passive house condo project in the area. Designed by Paul Castrucci Architect and builder Ray Sage, of Race Age, Inc, the three unit walkup is a unique project with an ultra-efficient design, tight and highly insulated multi-family residence. A net-metered, rooftop solar system provides enough energy for all three tenants and backyard, deck and roof top space provide plenty of room to spend time outdoors and grow their own food.

Read more: Brooklyn’s First Passive House Condo Building Rises in Prospect Heights R951 Residence-Paul castrucci Architect – Inhabitat New York City 

Press : A Passive House Movement Grows in Brooklyn by Paul Castrucci

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September 25, 2013

A three-unit condominium project under construction in Brooklyn is one of many Passive House projects that are springing up in the Borough

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The unit on the right, constructed of ICFs, is expected to achieve Passive House certification   Photo Credit: Alex Wilson

I was in New York City over the weekend where I spoke at the Annual Meeting of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. What I most relished about the trip was an opportunity to explore a new infill housing project in Brooklyn that’s being built to Passive House standards and may well achieve net-zero-energy performance.

Passive House is a certification system that originated in Germany and has been picking up steam over the past few years in North America. To achieve certification, buildings must have modeled energy performance that does not exceed a very stringent limit for heating and cooling as well as total annual primary energy consumption below a specified threshold.

Getting a glimpse into New York’s Passive House community

It was actually through my daughter that I got to know builder Ray Sage, of Race Age, Inc., and architect Paul Castrucci, of Castrucci Architect. In addition to building high-performance buildings, Ray manages some rooftop beehives in East Village from which he harvests honey; my daughter was writing an article about raising bees in the City for her CSA (community supported agriculture) newsletter and spent an afternoon with Ray, his wife Wendy Brawer (who runs GreenMap, a nonprofit network that produces maps of cities highlighting green living resources), and their friend Paul, to learn about beekeeping and help out with honey extraction.

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The first connection with builder Ray Sage was through his bees--on a rooftop in the East Village of New York.  Photo Credit: Alex Wilson

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Somehow the topic of green building came up, and it turned out that Ray and Paul were both familiar with my work with Environmental Building News. Ray and Wendy came to my Saturday evening lecture, and I was invited to visit the R-951 Residence, their three-unit Passive House condominium project under construction in the Prospect Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Along with working together on honey extraction, Paul, Ray, and Wendy are partners in Further, Inc., a design-build firm specializing in sustainable building, and the developer of R-951.

A four-story, three-unit walk-up

Being built on a narrow lot in a neighborhood of three- or four-story row houses, R-951 (named for resilience, R-value, and the address: 951 Pacific Street). The three-unit row house is tall and narrow, but with a remarkable amount of outdoor space. The first-story apartment includes a sizable backyard along with half of the basement space (the rest being common space for the three units). The second-story apartment includes a small front balcony and larger rear balcony plus an upper-level loft bedroom. The upper unit is also on two levels and includes front and rear rooftop terraces along with a small front balcony.

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Secton of R-951 showing the three multi-level apartments and extensive outdoor space. Click to enlarge.Photo Credit: Castrucci Architects

Each unit is about 1,500 square feet. Because the project is designated as a green building by the City, there was a 500 square-foot bonus provided to the developed area. “That is huge,” Paul told me, in that it allowed the addition of the terrace space.

The building is insulated with insulated concrete forms (ICFs) and lots of additional polyisocyanurate foam insulation. The exposed north and south walls are insulated to about R-46, the roof is insulated to R-59, and there is R-21 insulation under the basement slab.

Windows are state-of-the-art triple-glazed, vinyl-framed Schüco units from Germany with NFRC U-factors of 0.15 and remarkable 0.71 visible transmittance. In other words, these windows allow less than half as much heat loss as standard, American double-glazed windows with low-emissivity glass and argon gas fill), yet they are just as clear or even clearer. The solar heat-gain coefficient (SHGC) is 0.50—allowing plenty of solar gain for passive solar heating benefits.

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The Schüco windows provide visible transmittance of over 70% with unit U-factors of 0.15.  Photo Credit: Alex Wilson

Preliminary energy modeling using the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP), done by Grayson Jordan in Paul’s office, came out at 4.80 kBtu/ft2·year, which is slightly higher than the Passive House threshold (4.75 kBut/ft2·yr), but Paul thinks that with some tweaks to the envelope during construction the project will help them meet the Passive House requirements.

Indoor air quality will be ensured with the highest-efficiency heat-recovery ventilators on the market—those made by the Swiss company Zehnder (the same product we’ve installing in our house). As with our house, the small-diameter round ducts are snaking through R-951 by the dozens.

Net-zero-energy

The building is all-electric. A Mitsubishi mini-split air-source heat pump provides heating and cooling for each apartment. Hot water will be provided with Stiebel Eltron heat-pump water heaters, which I believe are the highest efficiency heat pump water heaters on the market. Induction cooktops and electric ovens will be used in the kitchens. Jordan Goldman of Zero Energy Design, consulted on building science and mechanical systems design for the project.

A rooftop solar array will provide a total of 12.2 kilowatts (kW) of solar electricity (4.2 kW for one unit and 4.0 kW for each of the other two). These will be net-metered systems that “spin the meter backwards” when the system is producing more electricity than the apartment is using. The solar system is being installed by AEON Solar and will tie into the Con Edison power grid.

The solar system will not include battery back-up, but will use SMA’s new transformerless inverters with access to some power when the utility grid is down and the sun is shining. I wrote about this new inverter last month, and love the resilience benefits it provides.

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High-efficiency Zehnder HRVs will ensure good air quality in the apartments. Photo Credit: Alex Wilson

The solar system will come close to making the project net-zero-energy, but whether it actually gets there will depend on how efficiently the homeowners operate their apartments.

The cost for all these added features to achieve Passive House performance is about 5%, according to Ray, though such a small surcharge for the green features in part reflects the generally high construction cost of multi-unit condominiums in Brooklyn.

Ray, Wendy, and Paul anticipate that these features may boost the selling prices slightly compared with standard condos in the neighborhood—one of which is going up next door (with a common wall) and offers a clear comparison.

You can watch the project take shape at R-951.com.

Burgeoning interest in Passive House

After our visit to R-951, Ray, Wendy, and I drove through a few neighborhoods of Brooklyn looking at a number of other projects that are currently being built or renovated to achieve Passive House certification—and one being built to the Passive House performance standards, but that will not be certified (because the owner wanted a fireplace). And these projects were all within a few blocks of R-951.

I was amazed to learn of so much activity. In fact, Wendy told me that there are over 700 members of the NY Passive House MeetUp Group! That doesn’t mean that all those people are actually building Passive House projects, but clearly there is a great deal of interest.

Alex is founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. and executive editor of Environmental Building News. In 2012 he founded the Resilient Design Institute. To keep up with Alex’s latest articles and musings, you can sign up for his Twitter feed.

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