The internationally recognized U.S. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification system has so far been dominating the country’s property development industry. But hold your houses everyone, because there’s a new kid on the green block. Rumor has it he’s better, greener, and most definitely more German.
Passive House Institute, founded in Darmstadt, Germany in 1998, is now making its way into the U.S. market. The comprehensive Passive House system utilizes natural resources, e.g. free solar energy is captured and applied efficiently. Other design concepts such as high performance triple-glazed windows, super-insulation, airtight building shells and balanced energy recovery ventilation help to ensure significant reductions in energy use and carbon emission. The result? 60-70% less energy use and 90% less heat than comparable buildings. For those who struggle with the numbers: that’s a lot.
Well on its way to conquer our much greener neighbor in the east, Passive House has certified more than 25,000 buildings in Europe. In the U.S., only a fairly embarrassing number of 13 buildings have made the cut so far. Recently, however, American developers, builders and designers who specialize in LEED-certified buildings are now turning to Passive House design. Haus96, a four-unit condominium redevelopment in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, is the latest addition to the Passive House family. Architect Ken Levenson believes that this project is the start of a new trend in Brooklyn. “What’s happened is a lot of the LEED buildings and green buildings in general are still using way too much energy,” he says. And he might just be right, because there’s already a dozen sustainable projects and many more about to begin construction.
Perhaps Mrs. Merkel should forget about that whole single currency issue and focus on expanding this green trend way beyond the borders of Brooklyn. After all, there are billions to be saved. And reportedly, millions to be made: the first floor three-bedroom unit is listed for $1.4 million. Juicy.
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