Upstate New York Becomes the Bastion of Passive House Design
In the wake of increasingly prevalent destructive weather across the country, upstate New York is becoming one of the first to adopt building design and construction methods specifically aimed at help fight climate change.
In New York State hamlets such as Stone Ridge, Olivebridge, Callicoon, Cold Spring, Cooperstown and others, traditional design and building practices are being adjusted in an effort to combat climate change and acquire greater resilience in the face of extreme weather conditions.
One of the prime examples of this phenomenon is seen at Callicoon’s Seminary Hills Cidery, designed by River Architects of Cold Spring, NY The cider house was designed and built to meet rigorous passive building standards and receive certification from the US Passive House Institute (Phius), a 501c(3) organization working to make high-performance passive construction the dominant market standard. The result was a 40-60% reduction in energy consumption for heating and cooling. Like other buildings built according to Phius standards, the cider house can boast of offering a more comfortable, cozy and healthy interior space. All of these indoor air and soundproofing benefits make it a more welcoming place to enjoy sour ciders.
The Passive House is a building construction method that dramatically reduces energy costs and promotes indoor comfort through innovations in building envelopes and energy distribution. Studies have shown that the built environment produces 40-60% of annual CO2 emissions. According to climate change experts, reducing these numbers is a goal that must be pursued, and Phius certification has proven to be an effective way to achieve this goal.
Passive houses also offer the potential to sustain life in the event of prolonged power or heating outages, which some see as increasingly likely scenarios in an age of natural disasters brought about by climate change.
New York architects and developers have been quick to note passive house trends. Those who visit the rooftop garden of the nation’s largest passive house project, the 47,000-square-foot 425 Grand Concourse in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx, can observe another Phius development not far away. That building is Park Avenue Green, a 15-story, 154-unit development in the Melrose enclave of the Bronx.
Among the structures showcasing passive house design in upstate New York is the Gallatin Passive House in Gallatin, New York. The new two-story wood-frame single-family home construction was completed in 2020 and features 3,307 square feet of space. Built on the site of an existing Dutch barn built in the 18e Century, the house was designed and built in response to its owners’ quest for energy autonomy and their interest in the latest thinking and approaches in sustainable construction.
Designed by architect North River Architecture and Planning and built by North River Design Build, it was the winner of the single-family category of the Phius 2021 design competition during PhiusCon 2021 in Tarrytown, NY
Another passive house design can be seen in Olive Passive House in the hamlet of Olivebridge, County of Ulster. The 1,484 square foot single family home was built in 2020 using a pre-engineered panel system just 25 miles away in Kingston, NY The following year the home won the Phius Best Project by a Young Professional, won by his 35 years. the old architect Allesandro Ronfini then the 34-year-old builder Owen O’Connor. Designed to run on electricity alone, the house uses nearly 80% less electricity than homes in the same area. This is partly due to its orientation, designed to limit solar heat gain in summer.
Ronfini, founder of DEMO Architects, designed and built Olive Passive House to conclusively demonstrate that comfort, durability, and the elements and materials of modern architecture can all co-exist.
If he and other Passive House enthusiasts in upstate New York are successful, an area known for qualities ranging from natural beauty to baseball history will have yet another bragging rights over and over. .