Cornell Tech’s Landmark Passive House Project Breaks Ground in New York City

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Set to become world’s tallest passive house project, Steven Winter Associates is facilitating Cornell Tech and its partners the Hudson Companies and the Related Companies to achieve this distinction for the residential building to be constructed on the Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island.

Cornell Tech Passive House Project Rendering

Architectural Rendering of Cornell Tech Campus

I see this project as more activist than passive. - Mayor Bill de Blasio

Construction has officially started on Cornell Tech’s high-rise residential building on Roosevelt Island after a groundbreaking ceremony last Tuesday where NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg made their first joint appearance. The 26-story, 352-unit residential high-rise will become the world’s largest and tallest residential project certified by the Passive House Institute (PHI), and will house students, faculty and staff. The development will be part of Cornell University’s Tech Campus – all of the buildings on the new campus will meet the city’s 80 by 50 climate plan goals.

Steven Winter Associates (SWA) is providing technical consulting services to guide the design and testing for Passive House certification, considered to be the most rigorous building standard for energy efficiency. The project, which is being constructed in partnership with owner Cornell Tech, developers, The Hudson Companies and The Related Companies, Handel Architects, and BuroHappold Engineering, is also being built to ENERGY STAR® and LEED® certification standards.

“One of the reasons we selected SWA for Passive House consulting on this project was SWA’s outstanding track record in the field with site supervision and monitoring,” said Arianna Sacks Rosenberg, Senior Project Manager at The Hudson Companies, the developer for the project. “One of the biggest challenges with this project is the implementation of the air sealing details at such a large scale. After past experiences with SWA and knowing they had staff that were well trained in Passive House and had already accomplished it at a smaller scale, we knew they were the right team to help us execute this building.”

When complete, the high-rise is projected to have an overall energy consumption that is 70% less than that of a conventional new multifamily building. To reach that formidable level of efficiency, Steven Winter Associates has provided technical consulting, energy modeling, and sustainability planning from the beginning of schematic design. The custom designed curtain wall facade is being constructed off-site and delivered with the windows intact, allowing for the quality control necessary to create an extremely air-tight building-envelope.

“In the city’s continuous race to the tallest, we are extremely proud to be incorporating Passive House into the conversation,” said Ryan Merkin, Senior Vice President, Steven Winter Associates, Inc. “SWA staff has worked tirelessly in coordination with the development and design team for inclusion of Passive House strategies. Still, the hard work has only just begun. It is one thing to design it, it is another to execute on that vision particularly on this scale.”

Throughout construction, SWA will perform all inspections and testing to verify adherence to the Passive House standard. In addition, SWA’s Accessibility Group, which consulted on the project during design, will conduct inspections during various stages of construction to ensure compliance with accessible design and construction requirements of applicable laws and codes. SWA is also serving as the LEED Commissioning Agent for the project. Post-construction, the firm will provide monthly tracking of the building energy consumption to ensure performance targets are being met.

About Steven Winter Associates, Inc.
Steven Winter Associates, Inc. (SWA) provides research, consulting and advisory services to improve commercial, residential and multifamily built environments for private and public sector clients. The firm specializes in energy, sustainability and accessibility consulting as well as certification, research & development and compliance services. SWA’s engineers and architects have led the way since 1972 in the development of best practices to achieve high performance buildings. For more information, visit http://www.swinter.com.

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Heather Breslin
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