This residential building is part of collaboration between American and Israeli universities. This residential building is part of collaboration between American and Israeli universities. This residential building is part of a collaboration between American and Israeli universities. (Photo: Handel Architects)

World's tallest residential passive house being built in New York City

Well, that's great. But what is a passive house?

There are tens of thousands of accredited passive buildings across the globe. And the world’s tallest residential passive house is now going up on New York City's Roosevelt Island.

The 270-foot tower is being built on the campus of Cornell Tech, a partnership of Cornell University in New York and Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel.

The passive house on Roosevelt Island will rise 270 feet making it the largest building of its kind in the world.The passive house residential tower on Roosevelt Island will rise 270 feet, making it the largest building of its kind in the world. (Photo: Cornell)

So, what is a passive house, you ask? It's an international design standard that cuts energy consumption in buildings by 70 to 90 percent.

“Maximize your gains, minimize your losses” is a maxim of the movement, which was pioneered in the 1970s by North American builders. In the late 1980s the German Passivhaus Institut (PHI) built on the initial research and principles and ushered the movement into the 21st century.

Among the principles of design are a building envelope that is extremely airtight, preventing infiltration of outside air and loss of conditioned air; the use of balanced heat- and moisture-recovery ventilation; and the minimal presence of a space conditioning system.

To achieve passive house standards on the Cornell Tech and Israel Technion campus building, the design team had to introduce a number of sustainability-focused design elements. For example, the façade will be constructed of a prefabricated metal panel system that will act very much like a thermally insulated blanket for the building.

The southwestern-facing façade opens to reveal a louver system that extends the entire height of the building. This reveal is designed to be the “gills” of the tower, literally allowing the building energy system to breathe.

Purified fresh air will be ducted into each bedroom and living room, providing superior indoor air quality. Use of low VOC‐paint, which limits off‐gassing and also improves indoor air quality, will be used throughout the building.

Compared to conventional construction, the building is projected to save 882 tons of carbon dioxide per year, equal to planting 5,300 new trees. Construction is now underway and is expected to be completed by next year.

MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE:

Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows

Related Topics: Architecture