In 2018, we published Pursuing Passive, a 50-page report detailing a hypothetical retrofit of an existing NYC multifamily building to EnerPHit standards. This month, we’ve released a 12-page Pursuing Passive Summary, condensing the report’s findings into an easily digestible package of strategies for success.

In light of recent building emissions mandates and increasingly ambitious climate policy objectives, it’s now more important than ever that we take into full consideration the opportunities presented by retrofitting our current building stock. Yet, extensive, holistic renovations are expensive to owners and disruptive to tenants. Meeting cities’ ambitious targets will require overcoming these challenges, disrupting a sector notoriously resistant to innovation with a radical expansion of existing building retrofits.

This study describes the feasibility of upgrading an existing multifamily building in New York City to meet the Passive House standard for retrofits. The building selected for study is a 15-story, market-rate residential building on a small campus of nearly identical buildings in Brooklyn. Constructed in 1950, the building has masonry exterior walls that enclose 163 apartments across 123,000 gross square feet.

The emphasis of the study is on selecting energy conservation measures and phasing these measures over time – while the building is occupied.  This report also describes how capital planning for such measures might be organized, code and regulatory barriers to pursuing this deep retrofit, and the most important technical and market challenges. An array of improvements to the envelope, windows, heating & cooling systems, ventilation, domestic hot water, lighting, and plug loads, were explored to determine the most effective solution that limits disruption to the occupants.

The goal of this high-level document is to guide building owners through the process of a phased deep retrofit that provides comfortable, healthy spaces aligned with the City’s building emissions mandates.

Download the Pursuing Passive Summary below. The analysis described in Pursuing Passive was performed jointly by Steven Winter Associates in New York, New York and the Passive House Institute (PHI) in Darmstadt, Germany.

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