Last night we talked about the Living Building Challenge, a certification system that rates the sustainability of a building over the course of a year. Here's a followup about 23 Park Place, a Brooklyn Heights townhouse that's probably the most energy efficient home in the city, thanks to its Passive House certification.
If you're not familiar with Passive House, here's a primer: it's a 25-year-old building system founded by a group of German and Swedish architects who proved that insulation and airtight construction can cut energy costs in typical buildings by as much as 90 per cent. The (very) basic idea is that a properly insulated building needs far less artificial heat, because it retains heat gain from the sun and the people inside. It's a hugely popular concept in Europe, but it's taken a long time to catch on in the US.
According to Curbed, this thermal image was taken on a freezing cold night last winter. While its neighbours are leaking red and orange heat all over the place, 23 Park Place, right in the middle, is almost completely blue. It's a pretty remarkable illustration of how inefficient most homes are -- and how unassuming the fix can be (this is what the house looks like IRL). SgBuild, the firm behind the project, talks about how Passive House is changing the city without, you know, changing the city:
Soon the whole city will look like this. You won't see the change, they will just be there looking like the rest. But they are different, like a ghost building that was nearly removed from the energy map. It sits there consuming less, giving more and caring for their occupants while the city goes on around them.