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Passive House Reaches New Heights

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

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When students move into the apartment housing at Cornell Tech’s Roosevelt Island campus in New York City next year, some will find themselves in a trendsetting structure: The world’s tallest passive house.

Cornell Tech Roosevelt Island campus rendering
Images: Handel Architects

The 350-unit apartment building is set to open next summer for the fall 2017 semester as part of Cornell Tech's new Roosevelt Island campus.

Designed as a team effort between Handel Architects and Steven Winter Associates, the Cornell Tech Residential building is under construction now, and will stand at 26 stories when students move in. The developers—The Related Companies and Hudson Companies—are seeking certification from the Passive House Institute in addition to LEED Platinum certification, according to the Engineering News-Record.

About Passive Construction

The goal of “passive house” building is to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures year-round while minimizing energy use. Passive structures employ efficient systems for circulating air and create a well-sealed building envelope that minimizes the effects of the weather outside on the climate inside.

Cornell Residential Tower rendering

The Cornell Tech Residential building is under construction now, and will stand at 26 stories when students move in.

The Cornell Tech building, which utilizes triple-pane windows and up to 10 inches of insulation, is constructed of metal panels, which will be sealed from the inside. A vapor retarder will add extra protection for the air-tight envelope.

The 350-unit apartment building is set to open next summer for the fall 2017 semester. Monadnock Construction is the general contractor on the building.

Setting the Trend

The developers behind the record-setting building project hope that it will encourage more passive construction, especially in the U.S., where passive standards are less well-known than in Europe.

“We hope that this boundary-pushing development will serve as a living lab and enduring inspiration to the community of next-generation problem solvers who will live within its (well insulated) walls,” Hudson’s David Kramer says.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article misstated the type of passive house certification the Cornell tower is being built to fulfill; the building will fit international Passive House standards, incorporating a facade that acts as a thermally insulated blanket around the building structure. According to a representative of Cornell Tech, the building is projected to save 882 tons of CO2 per year, equal to planting 5,300 new trees.


Tagged categories: Colleges and Universities; Energy efficiency; Passive house; Residential Construction; U.S. Department of Energy

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