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Climate House: Passive House as an Opportunity

Winter 2019
A version of this article appears in the Winter 2019 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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December 09, 2019
Designing a new building in a flood zone can be a rigorous challenge but also an opportunity. In New York, Superstorm Sandy left behind devastated communities in low-lying coastal areas of Long Island. Some residents relocated for as long as one year and others opted not to return. Wanting to confront this challenge, I purchased a small lot in Freeport, Long Island, through a storm recovery program initiated by the Office of the Governor of New York State called New York Rising. The property included a storm-destroyed home that had to be demolished prior to reconstruction. The new building would have to be a climate-resilient home. I also envisioned the reconstruction as a chance to reduce its carbon footprint and adhere to strict energy efficiency standards. The Passive House (PH) concept was a natural fit, because these challenges are interrelated, and PH takes a whole-house approach. Central to the PH strategy is optimizing a building’s mechanical systems to greatly reduce energy use compared to typical construction, and creating a healthy indoor environment. The home would also be able to withstand climate extremes, as it did in the polar vortex that occurred in January 2019. An all-electric PH with an ...

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