New York Developer’s Guide to Multifamily Passive House Certification

New York Passive House has published a great free guide to certification of multifamily Passive House buildings.

One of the example projects is the 68-unit affordable senior housing building that Duncan Architect is consulting on in Corona, Queens. HANAC

If you’re interested in high performance multifamily construction, download the guide.

With Passive House as an identified incentive by New York State Homes and Community Renewal for affordable housing financing, and funding organizations like the Community Preservation Corporation also recognizing Passive House, it is important to demystify the process and provide support to those developers interested in pursuing Passive House construction.

The Guide provides 8 clear steps most useful in making a successful project, 7 important reasons to get your development project certified to the international Passive House Standard, and a succinct outline of the certification protocol to get you across the finish line.

White House announces Passive House initiative in New York

President Obama announces new actions to bring renewable energy and energy efficiency to households across the country, advancing clean energy technology innovation, cutting energy bills, and creating jobs.

The White House press release includes an initiative of New York State Homes and Community Renewal to add Passive House certification to its RFP for preservation and creation of high quality affordable multifamily housing. Passive House is a proven method of providing comfortable, healthy, energy-efficient buildings that complements other programs, such as LEED. Certifying to the international Passive House Standard provides proof that your building is among the best performing in the world.

Duncan Architect’s experience in multifamily Passive House design would be a great addition to teams applying for funding through the New York HCR RFP. Contact for more information.


June 2015 Passive House Events in the New York Region

June, 2015, is a big month for Passive House events in and around NYC.

Following the NYC mayor’s office’s report, One City Built to Last, which calls for Passive House as part of the solution to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2050, interest in the Passive House Standard for building comfort and energy efficiency has exploded.

June 1: Seal it Tight, Make it Right – AIA Event

June 2: Passivhaus: Lessons from Europe – A Building Energy Exchange Event

June 5: Facade Performance 101, including an overview of the Passive House Standard

June 8-12: Certified Passive House Tradesperson Training in NYC by Passive House Academy with NYSERDA funding

June 9: Advanced Passive House Consultant Training – PHILADELPHIA

June 11: NY15 Conference and Expo – Built To Last: Passive House

June 12: Advanced Passive House Consultant Training – New York City

June 15: Passive House Meets Net Zero – Online/Live Streaming


Passive House Engeldamm in Berlin

Passivhaus Engeldamm (PHED) is a mixed-use multifamily and office building in the Luisenstadt neighborhood of Berlin. Glass and concrete may seem like unusual materials for a “green” building, but it shows the design freedom of the Passive House Standard. The apartment building faces a beautiful park where the Berlin Wall used to divide the city. Unfortunately, economic divisions continue, and anti-gentrification protesters vandalized the building a few years ago.

The concrete balconies have a nice texture from the OSB formwork.

Passivhaus Engeldamm Berlin

The building’s architects, Scarchitekten, have their offices on the ground floor.Passivhaus Engeldamm Berlin

Growth of Passive House Standard in New York


NY Times launches Passive House above the fold in Real Estate section

New York City’s rapid embrace of the Passive House Standard for comfort, health, and energy efficiency made The New York Times cover story in its Real Estate section on Sunday, March 29, 2015.

Duncan Architect is the Passive House consultant for a senior residence with a pre-K on the ground floor. This project is one of those featured in the Times article.

 A social services organization, the Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee or Hanac, has also jumped on the passive-construction bandwagon for its eight-story 68-unit senior housing development, to be completed in Queens in summer 2017, said John Napolitano, Hanac’s director of community development and planning.

Part of the allure of passive house is the ability to withstand some of the effects of power cuts, he said.

“We’ve had several blackouts, and keeping the seniors in their homes during those periods, in an environment where we can maintain thermal controls in the units for a period of at least five days without disturbance, resonates with us,” Mr. Napolitano said. “We can do that with passive house.”

“The Passive House in New York” NY Times

New York Passive House reviewed the article

NY Passive House (NYPH) is particularly proud of this article because it features a range of work by NYPH members, including:  Stephen Lynch of Caliper Studio, 255 Columbia Street by Ben Igoe of JBS Project Management & Sam Bargetz of LoadingDock5, Steve Bluestone of the Bluestone Organization, HANAC senior housing with consulting by Greg Duncan of Duncan Architect, and Michael Ingui of Baxt Ingui Architects.

and followed up with more information about the upcoming conferences in Germany and New York City. Greg Duncan will be going to the International Passive House Conference in Leipzig, Germany on April 16 and the New York Passive House Conference on June 11.

Duncan Architect is glad to be able to help people jump on the “passive-construction bandwagon,” especially on a project like the HANAC senior housing that will be such a benefit to the community in Corona, Queens.




Passive House Books

Passive House is the world’s leading comfort and energy-efficiency standard for all types of buildings.

The Duncan Architect Passive House Bookstore has books for general as well as expert audiences.

I just added a link to Mary James’s 2010 book Recreating the American Home: The Passive House Approach. I reviewed her newer book, American Passive House Developments, stating:

“Passive House, a method of building that traces its roots to American pioneers such as Amory Lovins, is the world’s leading energy efficiency standard for buildings. It applies to all building types, allowing people to save energy in their homes and workplaces without sacrificing comfort. Now, Mary James, a leading voice in the American Passive House movement, lucidly articulates that Passive House is not just a residential phenomenon by showcasing a sampling of intriguing current projects including multifamily developments, commercial kitchens, and brownstone renovations.”

For Passive House designers, I would recommend Sarah Lewis’s book PHPP Illustrated: A Designer’s Companion to the Passive House Planning Package for an in-depth guide to the energy modeling software that is the basis for Passive House design.

For great photographs and accessible information, I would recommend Julie Torres Moskovitz’s The Greenest Home: Superinsulated and Passive House Design. Disclosure: she’s a friend of mine and one of our projects is featured in the book.

For those interested in the history of passive solar approaches to architecture, I would recommend Anthony Denzer’s The Solar House: Pioneering Sustainable Design. It includes “the work of masters of twentieth-century architecture such as Richard Neutra, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Paolo Soleri, Louis Kahn, Pietro Belluschi, Edward Durell Stone, and Harwell Hamilton Harris, and continuing with more recent innovations like the German Passivhaus movement….”

New York State Green Building Conference



The 2015 NY State Green Building Conference will include a presentation by Gregory Duncan about multifamily buildings designed to meet Passive House criteria.


“Passive House” describes a comfort and energy-efficiency standard for all building types. This presentation will focus on the design of multifamily buildings in our region to meet the Passive House criteria. The scale and form factor of multifamily buildings relative to single-family can be advantageous, while urban site constraints are often challenges that must be addressed. The audience will learn the advantages of a “fabric first” approach to design that emphasizes the importance of the building enclosure for high performance and thermal and acoustic comfort.


Gregory Duncan began his architectural career with an internship in Germany, the birthplace of the Passive House movement. Since 2000 he has primarily designed midrise multifamily and mixed-use buildings in New York City and surrounding areas. In 2009 he became a founding member of New York Passive House and is currently a Vice President. His Passive House consulting work includes the first certified Passive House retrofit in Connecticut.


This just in!

The program for the 13th Annual New York State Green Building Conference has been approved for Professional Development Hours (PDHs) for engineers, Continuing Education Credits (CECs) for landscape architects, and AIA Continuing Education System Learning Units (AIA CES LUs) for architects. A participant can earn a maximum of 8.0 PDHs, 5.0 CECs and 8 AIA CES LUs by attending the full Conference. (Some presentations are still under review) Please see the agenda for more information. LEED Professionals may earn up to 10 GBCI CE Hours by attending the full Conference. You may now self-report unlimited education hours toward your credential maintenance! (Sign in at sessions required to receive certificate.)