August 10, 2015
By Brigitta Berze
There was much excitement buzzing in Prospect Park, Brooklyn on the eve of August 5th, 2015 as Brooklyn’s Deputy Borough President, Diana Reyna, presented citations to the teams involved in the completion of the first certified net zero capable passive house in NYC. Paul Castrucci , the architect for this building, along with developer Further, Inc., and Aeon Solar were honored for their achievement.
R-951 Residence is made up of three duplex 1,500 square feet condominiums that which have unique outdoor spaces and beautiful interior design, as well as, sustainable function. The building does not require fossil fuel, and natural gas to heat, cool, or light the space. The living units have their own supply of 4kW Solar Photovoltaic systems on the rooftop that acts as shading for the roof accessible areas. This feature makes it possible for the on-site panels to generate enough energy to power each unit ‘over the course of a year’, as promoted per design.
The high performance building envelope is the most important feature of this and any passive house. The walls are insulated to R-40, the windows and doors are ‘tilt and turn’ R-9 triple glazed. The envelope is sealed to 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 pascals pressure, which also creates a soundproof effect for a quiet indoor environment. Passive design includes large south-facing windows to maximize winter solar heat gain, and the metal accordion style screens provide shade during the summer season.
Sample of wall construction. Insulated concrete form (ICF) with additional exterior rigid board insulation for R-40 value.
Some of the most impressive features of the house are the mechanical systems, where the magic truly happens. Ventilation is provided by an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) that recovers 94% of energy from air exiting the building. The Zehnder ERV filters indoor air for pollen and particulates, providing fresh air while minimize energy loss and reducing the need for heating and cooling equipment. Each unit is heated and cooled by electric heat pumps with a SEER rating of 16.5. Electric heat pumps are also used for domestic hot water production and also can cool indoor air. The ground unit has a spacious, green backyard, which has a 1,200 gallon irrigation rainwater harvesting system.
We would like to thank Paul Castrucci, Further, Inc. and Aeon Solar for allowing us to see R-951 Residence firsthand, and thank you to everyone who came out to support the progress of green buildings in NYC.