As a partner in multiple City and State energy efficiency initiatives, the Building Energy Exchange set out to understand how a low energy building standard, like Passive House, might be applied across our building sector. In this briefing, we outline the guiding principles of the Passive House standard, review its successful application in other jurisdictions, take stock of the Passive House resources and projects in the city, and identify the major challenges and barriers to adoption.
Passive House is a rigorous and voluntary standard for energy efficiency in buildings. It depends on a well-insulated building envelope, air-tight components, and continuous ventilation that can save more than 70% of heating and cooling costs compared to a typical code compliant building. There is a small but growing population of passive projects in New York: nine Passive House Institute certified buildings in New York State and four in New York City. There are twenty more projects underway in the city, including several large-scale developments, which will create over 300,000 square feet of certified projects in the next few years. The majority of these projects are residential, often low-rise, and mostly in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Additionally, there are over 28 projects that have been built incorporating passive house principles. New York has one of the largest populations of certified passive house professionals in the country, with training courses offered by several organizations. This briefing examines some of the challenges inherent in building passive, including regulatory barriers, the lack of education, the lack of institutional support for high efficiency or passive projects, the need for a robust supply chain, and the uniquely dense urban fabric of the city.