New York Passive House Conference to Present Hero Award to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio

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Further Awards Announced for Passive House Pioneers Chris Benedict and Henry Gifford

New York Passive House Conference & Expo

They are showing us how to make Passive House the new normal.

The 4th Annual New York Passive House (NYPH) Conference and Expo happening June 11th in New York City will begin with the presentation of two awards: The NY Passive House Pioneer Award and the NY Passive House Hero Award. The awards will be presented by Josh Fox, director and producer of the award-winning documentary, Gasland, a film that demonstrates the perils of gas hydrofracking and argues the need for a fossil fuel free, low-energy future.

The NY Passive House Hero Award will be presented to Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability for building awareness of, and support for, the dramatic energy efficiency measures of Passive House. The policy to reduce city-wide carbon emissions 80% by 2050, as described in the One City: Built to Last plan, connects the global challenge to reduce carbon emissions with the local promise of making New York a stronger and more sustainable city, and also recognizes the health and economic benefits such measures can provide to all New Yorkers.    

Describing the sweeping transformation required to meet its aggressive targets, the plan notes, “overall, the City must cut energy use across all building sectors on average by at least 60 percent from 2005 levels and switch to renewable fuel sources…”. To do this, the report states that New York City will look to “Passive House, carbon neutral, or `zero net energy’ strategies to inform the standards.” The benefits of the plan will extend far beyond carbon reduction. This is “an affordability plan, an economic development plan, and a public health plan,” which the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability argues will create a healthier, more economically vibrant, sustainable, and resilient city for all residents.

NYPH is honored to have the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Nilda Mesa, accept the award on behalf of Mayor de Blasio.

The NY Passive House Pioneer Award will be presented to the team of Chris Benedict of Chris Benedict RA and Henry Gifford of Gifford Fuel Saving Inc. for their deep commitment to low-energy building.

Having completed dozens of energy efficient renovations of existing buildings in New York dating back to award winning projects from the mid-1990s, as well as new buildings developed at zero cost premium, Benedict participated in the Green Codes Task Force report of 2010 which achieved significant changes to both NYC building code and zoning regulation that enable more efficient enclosures.

Benedict and Gifford have each demonstrated the significant potential of Passive House building in New York, and in doing so, opened the door for Passive House acceptance, adoption, and growth. Not only did their efforts precede the appearance of Passive House in New York by decades, but they have embraced Passive House and become its champions.

Benedict and Gifford’s recent work, Knickerbocker Commons Affordable Housing, is a Passive House project located in Bushwick, Brooklyn that was the case study called out in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s One City: Built to Last plan to represent how Passive House can help New York City achieve its goals.

“We intend to frame the day’s conversations with these awards,” said NYPH President, Ken Levenson, “Success in driving down our carbon emissions and making a more sustainable New York City will take the unwavering leadership of government as well as the unfailing commitment of individual practitioners willing to push the boundaries of what is normal. They are showing us how to make Passive House the new normal.”

NYPH’s event is curated for building professionals and owners interested in the future of low-energy building. Presenters and vendors of leading specialized high-performance products and services from around the world will demonstrate how Passive House is being successfully implemented.

The program features topics critical to New York’s low-energy future: retrofitting existing masonry and wood buildings, high internal-load buildings, multi-use buildings, multi-family housing developments, high-rise buildings, and integrated renewable solutions.

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Ken Levenson

Barry McTierney
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