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Proactive Cornell starts first Passive Residential High-Rise

Proactive Cornell starts first
Passive Residential High-Rise

P R E S S   R E L E A S E  |  Jul 21, 2015

In the heart of New York City, Roosevelt Island is taking shape as an innovation hive not unlike Chicago's Goose Island. Bolstered by Cornell University, the island's most iconic project will advance the tech research campus’s overall commitment to sustainability and ingenuity. Designed by Handel Architects, the new tower has now broken ground. Below, the press release from Cornell. For more, click here.

Renderings of the Cornell Tech Campus, located just south of the 59th Street Bridge connecting Manhattan to Queens. Construction has started this summer, aiming for completion in 2017. (Images c/o Handel Architects.) 

Renderings of the Cornell Tech Campus, located just south of the 59th Street Bridge connecting Manhattan to Queens. Construction has started this summer, aiming for completion in 2017. (Images c/o Handel Architects.) 

New York City-based Cornell Tech announced last month that the first residential building on its Roosevelt Island campus, developed in partnership with the Hudson Companies, will become the first high-rise residential building in the world built to Passive House standards.

Passive House (PH) is the strict international building standard that drastically reduces energy consumption while creating a healthier and more comfortable living environment for a fraction of residents’ usual energy costs. The building will become the beacon of the Cornell Tech campus and a symbol of the school’s unwavering commitment to innovative sustainability. Construction began this summer on the 270-ft-tall building which will house some 350 residential units. It is slated to open as part of the campus’ first phase in 2017. 

To achieve PH standards, Cornell Tech Residential will incorporate a number of sustainability-focused design elements. The façade, constructed of a prefabricated metal panel system, acts as a thermally insulated blanket wrapping the building structure. At the southwest façade, facing Manhattan, the exterior façade opens to reveal a louver system that extends the entire height of the building.

A building that breathes

This reveal is designed to be the “gills” of the building, literally providing an enclosed exterior space where the heating and cooling equipment live, allowing the building system to breathe. Low VOC‐paint, which limits off‐gassing and improves indoor air quality, will be used throughout the building, among many other elements. Compared to conventional construction, the building is projected to save 882 tons of CO2 per year, equal to planting 5,300 new trees. 

“Constructing the first Passive House residential high-rise in the world is the latest and most exciting example of our effort to set new benchmarks in sustainability and innovation,” said Cornell Tech Dean Daniel Huttenlocher. “We hope this will serve as a model for how Passive House standards can be brought to scale in the U.S. and create a new template for green design here in New York.” 

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“We have spent the past two years working with an incredible team of engineers and designers to establish this new standard for a 26-story building,” said David Kramer, principal of the Hudson Cos. “We hope that this boundary-pushing development will serve as a living lab and enduring inspiration to the community of next-generation problem solvers who will live within its (well-insulated) walls.”

The plans to achieve PH standards on this project were developed by a team that includes Handel Architects, structural engineers Buro Happold, research consultant Steven Winter Associates, residential contractor Monadnock Construction, and Hudson partner Related Companies. 

We are quite literally breaking new ground with the development of the world’s first high-rise residential Passive House.
— Luke Falk, Assistant VP of Sustainability, Related Companies

“We are quite literally breaking new ground with the development of the world’s first high-rise residential Passive House," says Luke Falk, Related's Assistant VP of Sustainability. The team aims "to create a paradigm-shifting campus in New York City... the culmination of unprecedented collaboration between the public and private sector.”

Considered by many to be the most rigorous energy efficiency standard in the world, PH buildings consume 60-70% less energy than typical building stock, surpassing modern standards like LEED and NYSERDA. The design also has a tremendous economic benefit for residents. Cornell Tech Residential tenants can expect to see this savings reflected in their electricity bills. 

Passive buildings incorporate a super insulated building façade, an airtight building envelope and an Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) system to create a comfortable interior climate without drafts and cold spots. The ERV system constantly pulls in fresh air and removes stale air, while recovering the energy in the climate-controlled air leaving the building. The PH requirement for the airtight facade (measured as air changes per hour, or ACH) is 0.6 ACH, 10 times tighter than typical new construction, which average 6-8 ACH. Typical brownstones average 25 ACH.

For more information on Cornell Tech, as well as the companies involved, head here. 

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To see additional coverage from the NY Times, click here.

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