New York Passive House

Open House : Sunnyside Gardens Residence at New York Passive House Days by Paul Castrucci

Sunnyside Gardens Residence Open House: 2018 New York Passive House Days

47th St Sunnyside, Queens | Friday - June 8 @ 4-6 PM
Link to RSVP


4:00 Informal tours with Sissily Harrell and New Deal Home Improvement Company Inc

5:00 Questions and Answers with Project Architectural Designer Sissily Harrell and New Deal Home Improvement Company Inc

5:30 Meet the architect Paul A. Castrucci

6:00 open house shut down
---> after party walk to . . .
46-10 Skillman Ave

New York City – May 25, 2018

Paul A. Castrucci, Architect and ZeroEnergy Design joins New York Passive House (NYPH) for the Summer International Passive House Days. NYPH tours offer the public and industry experts a first hand interaction with Passive Houses. Paul A. Castrucci, RA and Sissily Harrell will guide the open house tour on Friday, June 8 from 4-6pm. 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. This open house is notable because it will be the first Passive House in Sunnyside Gardens project.

The Sunnyside Gardens Residence is a 1000 sqft single family row house located in the Sunnyside Gardens Historical District in Queens, New York.  Built in 1925, this compact 3 bedroom row house was design by Clarence Stein and Henry Wright in the Art Deco style. The structure will undergo an extensive renovation that carefully incorporates Passive House EnerPHit standards with the building elements that contribute to the special architectural character of the district, including siting, style, scale, material and detailing.

Sunnyside Gardens was built from 1924 to 1928 as a philanthropic effort to ‘encourage greater equity in housing production, location, and design’ and stands as one of America’s best examples of low-density, low-rise residential development. Inspired by the English Garden City movement, the district was based on a concept that combines resource and environmental planning of typical urban and rural conditions to create an alternative for suburban living. A key signature for the Garden City style is the combination of single-, double, and triple- family private homes with rental apartment buildings and their arrangement around common gardens and pedestrian-friendly thoroughfares. Long-time resident Lewis Mumford called Sunnyside Gardens “An exceptional community laid out by the people who were deeply human and who gave the place a permanent expression of that humanness.”

Paul A. Castrucci Architect has worked closely with the clients, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, NYS Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, Parks Department, Queens Community Board #2 and the Hamilton Court Association to create a design that respects the character-defining features of the building and its historic context. Restoration of both primary and secondary facades begins with a particular sensitivity to the original Hudson River Brick and its corbeled detail in the entablatures of each facade. The firm received full approval from the Commission, the first in the district, on the Passive House-certified simulated double hung windows - designed to incorporate historic elements into the energy-efficient triple pane design, including shadow lines, simulated divide lights, and a simulated double-hung function (a better performing window very similar in look to the historic wooden single pane double hung window). Paul A. Castrucci Architect has carefully developed windows; paying close attention to original relationships of wall planes to windows, site lines from the street, color and material, and proper installation of all components by the contractor.

Paul Castrucci, Architect developed air sealing and brick restoration details for this project and will follow up with contractors’ training to ensure proper installation. 
A new R-40 roof assembly integrated with the Sunnyside Gardens Residence’s mechanical system is designed to minimize energy use. High-efficiency mini-split HVAC units heat and cool the home, taking up much less space than the typical apartments’ due to the buildings reduced heating and cooling loads. Interior space is limited in this single-family rowhouse, so ductwork is kept to a minimum size to take up as little space as possible as it passes through the interior. Precise air sealing installation will prevent thermal breaks.  Hot water is supplied with heat pump hot water heaters. Energy-efficient appliances and LED lighting is used throughout. Finally, a 3.5kW Solar Photovoltaic array will be installed on the roof to achieve near Net Zero energy capability. The solar layout is hidden from street view in order to respect its historical context. The home operates entirely on electricity - no natural gas or fossil fuels are used.

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. 

ZeroEnergy Design is an architecture and mechanical Passive House design firm specializing in high performance homes and buildings. The firm’s commitment to innovative and ecologically sensible design is reflected in multidisciplinary knowledge base, which spans architecture, mechanical design and financial analysis. The firm  supported the project as passive house consultant.

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 affordable residential buildings, arts facilities and community centers. The firm’s body of work reflects the firm’s commitment to sustainability in design and construction. The firm’s projects typically incorporate systems like passive and active solar heating, photovoltaic electricity generation and schemes for natural day lighting and ventilation. 

Press contact:    T. 212.254.7060 x 612

Partnership Organization and Special Thanks to New York Passive House, ZeroEnergy Design and Owners of Sunnyside Residence

Brooklyn Open House in June by Paul Castrucci

International Summer Open Passive House 2017

Saturday, June 17

Location : 158 Clifton Place, Brooklyn
with our partner SawKill Lumber


EnerPhit Rehab of existing 3 story plus Basement plus Cellar two family building. Passive House wood frame rowhouse renovation with extensive use of reclaimed wood throughout, including Sho Shugi Ban (burnt Douglas Fir) front facade and recycled Ipe from the Coney Island Boardwalk on the rear façade.  This renovation reduced the energy demand of the building to the extent that the planned rooftop solar installation brings the Owner’s unit into Net Zero capability.


Project Team:

Paul A. Castrucci, Architect

Alan Solomon, Sawkill Lumber Company

Right Environments, MEP and PH consultant

Blue line Construction



Contact Person: or 212.254.7060

Published on Jun 14, 2016

Video about 158 Clifton Place, Brooklyn NY by Sandra Beltrao


Details and Progress Documentation

ABC NO RIO In Progress – Demolition Phase by Paul Castrucci

ABC No Rio is now in the demolition phase. ABC No Rio's events, programs and the essence of community that it brings about continue "in exile"

The programming work ABC No Rio engages and the design work Paul Castrucci Architect are doing helps to strengthen progressive communities in response to the recent elections.  


Networking + Educational Event : New York Passive House EnterPhit Meet-up by Paul Castrucci

Meet the Expert Series: EnerPHit Session

At the Urban Green Council

Meet the Experts is a new series by NYPH to promote the exchange of much needed knowledge and expertise on topics related to the high performance building standard. Some topics that will be explored include passive house retrofits, passive house performance, HVACs, passive house financing, etc. 

This session provided an in-depth look into three different EnerPHit projects in NYC. Speakers will share their experiences certifying to EnerPHit, discuss available feedback from occupants, and share biggest hurdles and creative solutions. A Q&A session will follow after the panel presentation.


• Amy Shakespeare (Redtop Architects) 

• Michael Ingui (Baxt Ingui Architects) 

• Stas Zakrzewski (zh-Architects)

The firm enjoys partnering with New York Passive House. In the fall (date to be determined) Paul Castrucci Architect will participate in a Meet the Experts Series.

Press in Sallen Foundation : Getting Active On Passive House by Paul Castrucci

By: Nancy Anderson, Ph.D.

I'm a fan of Passive House. Ever since visiting the top-to-bottom renovation job for an elegant 19th century home in Brooklyn Heights undertaken by architect Ken Levenson back in 2011, the potential for constructing — or in this case reconstructing — urban buildings to keep occupants really comfortable year round without boiler heating or air conditioning in every room has been my yard stick to measure all other climate-friendly buildings. Levenson's Snapshot column was the first introduction Sallan readers had to Passive House, and since then, Ken's been one very busy Passive House advocate.

Still, he wasn't the first to use lots of wall and roof insulation in new ways, install super energy efficient windows and deploy other techniques to make energy efficiency and indoor air quality top priorities in NYC residential buildings.[1] Chris Benedict, using an approach similar to that of Passive House, seems to be the first architect to execute extraordinarily energy efficient design for both new construction and gut renovations in the City, with an emphasis on affordable housing. She also makes the claim that radically energy efficient building design opens the door for a drastically simpler building energy code, which means much less time and effort on the part of owners and architects when applying for permits. And that's not all. In June 2015, at the fourth annual New York Passive House (NYPH) conference, Benedict and her partner Henry Gifford received the NY Passive House Pioneer Award from Levenson. Earlier this year, Sallan introduced readers to the Passive Net Zero Energy condo in Prospect Heights Brooklyn undertaken by architect Paul Castrucci and Green Map maven Wendy Brawer. Cheers to all!

This brief history serves as a lead up to my take-aways from this year's NYPH conference. Let's start with the numbers. They're small. At present, there are 28 Passive House projects in New York City. But the actual number of PH residential units here is about to surge. At the conference, Related Companies announced a residential high-rise project for the now-under-construction Cornell University applied sciences campus on Roosevelt Island. Described by the New York Times as the "world's tallest passive house", it will be a 26 story, 352 housing unit building on a campus with aspirations to being net-zero carbon in its operations. The Related spokesman Luke Falk said this residential tower will use just 25% of the energy of comparable new buildings, but unlike Passive House projects in northern European cities, air conditioning will be installed to cope with New York's notorious hot and muggy summer weather. Unlike Benedict's mid-size multi-family buildings, the large Cornell tower will have central ventilation and heat recovery systems. Determining how to get Passive House-performing ventilation systems to comply with New York City building code has been one of the learning curves in this project. The good news is that it can be done and this will make doing the next passive high rise and the one after that easier. This is certainly an encouraging take-away.

My other chief NYPH conference take-away, however, was that today's market demand for a Passive House is not robust here. At the "Developer Roundtable: Views From the Leading Edge of Market Rate and Affordable Housing", moderated by Stuart Brodsky, participants spoke frankly and in-depth about their experiences in New York City, Philadelphia and London. The Philadelphia-based Passive House architect and developer left me with the impression that the City of Brotherly Love was way out ahead of the Big Apple when it came to scaling up the number of new affordable housing projects that meet Passive House standards. Such leadership rests on the state's housing finance agency scoring system which gives extra points to Passive House designed project applications, but does not require projects to be Passive House compliant. The speaker, Timothy McDonald, stressed that this was a Passive House victory, but one not achieved through policy-making by mandate.

A London-based developer of renovated market-rate housing whose energy efficiency is way above the norm focused on his firm's market research. Here's where things got interesting. The research found that home-buyers were willing to pay more for good soundproofing, but not more for energy efficiency. Since the building envelope insulation that soundproofs a structure also makes it much more energy efficient, his marketing message emphasized the former along with the 'healthfulness' and thermal comfort of these properties. A Brooklyn developer describing new market rate condos designed to be an "energy intelligent building" ruefully conceded that Passive House standards were "not what closed the sale". Instead, for developers like him, however personally committed to cutting his carbon footprint, a more direct incentive to build green is found in recent zoning changes, which grant developers more floor area to build when they use more building envelope insulation than required by code. On the other hand, as was noted, "appraisers are god". Since Passive House up-front costs don't compute for them, appraisals act as an obstacle to energy-active projects.

NYPH 2015 was the fourth annual conference I've attended. Each year more people come, each year, the speakers have more projects to describe and more facts on the ground to report. These appear to be upbeat trends to a fan like me. It's heartening to hear that US cities like New York and Philadelphia are getting more Passive Houses. Experience counts. As well, forces to be reckoned with by every developer, like building and energy codes, zoning requirements and project financing criteria all play a role in shaping the adoption of super energy efficient building design — even if market demand does not lead the way — are trending in the right direction. Still, it does seem that Passive House has a long way to go before it becomes a contender for the title of the new normal in US cities. What will move the needle? In One City Built To Last, the de Blasio administration puts Passive House on its roadmap for shrinking the City's carbon footprint when it "Implement(s) leading edge performance standards for new construction." As well, the report One New York: The Plan For a Strong And Just City cites, "The first net-zero school is currently under construction in Staten Island by School Construction Authority. DCAS is exploring additional public buildings to serve as additional net-zero or Passive House pilot projects." Maybe at NYPH 2016 we'll be nearing the tipping point for getting active on Passive House.

[1] At its simplest, Passive House can be thought of as a set of cooking instructions rather than collection of prescriptive codes. It's outcome oriented. By combining the basic ingredients — a highly insulated building envelope with few thermal breaks — the result is a building with high thermal performance. Installation of a continuous ventilation system that runs on recovered heat ensures good indoor air quality, occupant comfort and low energy use. A building's EUI rating is the outcome-oriented standard measure of energy performance. For a more in-depth description and links to resources and project descriptions see NYPH

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