Passive But Pushy: Eco-Conscious Houses Popping Up All Over Brooklyn

passivehouse Passive But Pushy: Eco Conscious Houses Popping Up All Over Brooklyn

The rendering. (Chris Benedict, via Curbed)

Insulation isn’t generally considered glamorous (it is, after all, wedged between walls most of the time), but its moment has finally come. Brooklyn, that most eco-conscious of boroughs, is getting two new passive house apartment buildings, Curbed reports.

The borough already claimed the distinction of having New York’s first certified passive house, a brownstone at 23 Park Place in Park Slope. The German-based passive house institute certifies buildings that meet its stringent environment standards—the home must be insulated well enough to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature without active heating or cooling systems.

Several other passive house projects, including a multi-family townhouse retrofit in Prospect Heights that The Observer visited this spring, are also expected to earn certification. Not that Manhattan will let this trend pass by—the Lower East Side’s ABC No Rio is also revamping itself to meet the standards.

Brooklyn’s two newest apartment buildings, designed by architect Chris Benedict, are much larger that the borough’s previous retrofit projects, Curbed reports, with 24 units a piece. They’re also in Bushwick. And why not? The neighborhood could use some more architectural distinction and it will be nice for the artists living in frigid lofts to have a place to warm up in the winter. The apartment building at 424 Melrose Street is already underway; 803 Knickerbocker Avenue has yet to start construction.

Ms. Benedict tells Curbed that one of the biggest challenges facing the new apartments is that New Yorkers don’t quite feel at home unless there’s a radiator clanking in the corner—a feature that passive houses, with their integrated heating, cooling and ventilation systems, lack.

“There’s a sense of security New Yorkers have about their hot, blasting radiators… A New Yorker who feels a cold radiator experiences fear.”

kvelsey@observer.com