Posts tagged with "Passive House":

Cornell Tech campus opens with three high-tech buildings

Yesterday Cornell Tech's campus opened on Roosevelt Island, a strip of land between Manhattan and Queens perhaps best known for housing medical institutions and mental hospitals. This development definitively stakes a new identity for the island. Created through an academic partnership between Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the project is the winner of a New York City competition for an applied-sciences campus initiated by the Bloomberg administration. The campus spans 12 acres and houses three new buildings by Morphosis, Weiss/Manfredi and Handel Architects. So far, what makes the buildings stand out is their aim to be among the most sustainable and energy efficient structures in the world. The four-story, 160,000-square-foot Bloomberg Center, designed by Morphosis Architects, serves as the heart of Cornell Tech. With its primary power source on-site, it is one of the largest net-zero energy academic buildings in the world. Smart building technology developed in collaboration with engineering firm Arup includes a roof canopy supporting 1,465 photovoltaic panels designed to generate energy and shade the building to reduce heat gain, a closed-loop geothermal well system for interior cooling and heating, a rainwater harvesting system to feed the non-potable water demand and irrigate the campus, and a power system conserving energy when the building is not in use. Another striking element is The Bloomberg Center’s facade, which is comprised of a series of metal panels designed to decrease the building's overall energy demand. The Bridge, designed by Weiss/Manfredi, is a seven-story “co-location” building intended to link academia to entrepreneurship. It houses a range of companies from diverse industries that have the opportunity to work alongside Cornell academic teams. The loft-like design of the building encourages dialogue between the University's academic hubs and tech companies. The building orientation frames full river views and brings maximum daylight into its interior. At the ground level, the entrance atrium opens onto the center of campus extending into the surrounding environment through a series of landscaped terraces. The House, designed by Handel Architects, is a 26-story, 350-unit dormitory for students, staff, and faculty. It is the tallest and largest residential passive house in the world, meaning it follows a strict international building standard to reduce energy consumption and costs. The House is clad with a super-sealed exterior facade created from 9-by-36-foot metal panels with 8 to 13 inches of insulation which are projected to save 882 tons of carbon dioxide per year. Yesterday’s opening comprises just the first phase of the campus development project at Cornell Tech. 

AEC professionals behind Cornell Tech Passive House reveal key to high energy performance

Today at Facades+ New York, The Architect's Newspaper's conference series on innovative building envelopes, AEC professionals gathered for a day of talks on the challenges and opportunities presented by the design and construction of high-performance facades.

To kick off the afternoon session, Blake Middleton, partner at Handel Architects and Lois Arena, senior mechanical engineer at SWA convened to talk about “The House” at Cornell Tech. The 26-story, 350-unit building, on Roosevelt Island on the East River, is the largest Passive House–certified structure in the world. AN editor-in-chief William Menking was on hand to moderate the post-talk Q+A.

Passive House certification, Arena explained, is the most rigorous building standard in the world. Why? The certification is based on performance—and the performance levels that Passive House demands are five to ten times higher than current building codes require. So, to meet the exacting standards, Arena and Blake revealed just how they rose to that challenge with their project at Cornell Tech.

There are six key factors, Arena said, to achieving the certification: siting, compact shape, the proper enclosure, a low energy HVAC system, energy efficient appliances and lighting, and, crucially, user-friendliness.

The Cornell Tech building is sited due south to maximize solar gains. Middleton added that minimizing the facade’s exposed surface area was key to the certification: the designers used a “wrap” metaphor for what the facade might be, a form that's connected to the geology of the island. With a facade that’s 23 percent glass, “the design goal was to break down that scale and solidity with banding,” he said.

Functionally, the team used a prefabricated panelized wall frame for the facade, both for quality control and to achieve desired R-values of 19-40, depending on the wall’s thickness at various points.

To really double down on efficient energy use, The House has a feedback system to encourage occupant participation whereby residents can see how much energy they are using. The system, as a result, promotes friendly competition between floors to meet or beat projected energy use. Meanwhile, a centralized mechanical ventilation system helps maintain optimal airflow, but each room—per Passive House standards—comes equipped with fully operational windows to encourage natural ventilation.

Building on the success of the Cornell Tech project, the team’s next projects include a 700-unit Passive House–certified affordable housing development in East Harlem. To find out more about The House, check out another Q+A AN did with Blake earlier this week as well as more previous coverage here.

AN speaks to one of the architects behind the world’s tallest Passive House building

Due for completion this year, the Cornell Tech campus going up on Roosevelt Island in New York is edging closer to seeing the world's tallest Passive House building erected. The building in question is a 270-foot-tall (26-story) residential tower that will house roughly 350 units for students and save 882 tons of CO2 per year relative to standard construction—the same as planting 5,300 new trees. I got the chance to speak with Blake Middleton, FAIA, of Handel Architects, the New York–based architecture firm behind the project and discuss how the firm approached the project. Jason Sayer: I understand the project will use a prefabricated metal panel facade system. Could you expand on this? How was this devised?  Blake Middleton: While the RFP from Cornell stated LEED Silver was the minimum bar for energy efficiency, we knew from early on that for this building we wanted to achieve a robust rating, at least Gold. We also knew we had to deliver the building at a cost to make the rents affordable for students. This meant using as much “off the shelf technology” as possible. We also knew that to achieve a really super-tight exterior wall: the fewer joints and penetrations in the exterior envelope, the better. This could not be an all-glass building—we would never have met our energy reduction goals with a glass curtain wall—and the average ratio of window to solid wall  was going to be much lower than most typical residential towers in New York (about 30% vs 45-65% typically). This led us quickly to select a prefabricated wall system where the windows could be installed in the factory, quality control was more robust, installation time significantly shortened, and fewer joints needed to be sealed. We likened the super insulated, super-air-tight wall to a big, thick wrapping “coat” around the building. It quickly became known as The Wrap, and became a central feature of our design expression. Likewise, could you tell me about the louvers the building uses? If The Wrap is the big coat around the building, the louvers are like a “zipper” for the coat. Behind the louvers are condenser units on each floor that power the variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system which is the actual heat and cooling source for each of the spaces in the building. Did you set out to achieve the Passive House standard from the start?  While formulating our response to the Cornell RFP, we became aware that Passive House principles had been applied to a large building in Germany. Our client was intrigued and came away from a visit to that building excited about the possibilities of applying this protocol to the Cornell project. Because of the immense uncertainty at the early stages—could our construction team meet the challenge? Could we afford it?—the development team remained cautious about committing to actual Passive House design requirements. Once deeper into the research and design process, and more familiar with what was required, all involved became more confident we could make this work. Everyone stepped up to commit to the effort. The development team of Hudson/Related, along with Cornell, wanted to make this a showcase of “applied science": a beta test that, if successful, could have a dramatic impact on how super energy-efficient design can be applied to buildings of scale.  And in turn, how to make a meaningful impact on greenhouse-gas reduction with each building we erect in the future. Blake Middleton will be speaking at the next Facades+ conference in New York on April 6 and 7.  Without going into too much detail, what will you be speaking about at the Facades+ conference? My goal for the presentation at Facades+ is to have the audience understand how the fundamentals of Passive House design can be applied to a very large building. Heretofore most Passive House projects in Europe and the Americas have been relatively small in scale. The House at Cornell Tech takes a proven set of principles and applies them to a very large building—over 270,000 and 26 stories—and is being built within a relatively tight construction budget. My hope is that people will come away from the presentation excited and encouraged that Passive House is scalable, is affordable, and can be a powerful arrow in the quiver of robust energy efficiency strategies to combat global warming. Middleton and Lois Arena of Steven Winter Associates will discuss the Passive House building in further detail. Seating is limited. To register, go to facadesplus.com.

Find out how Cornell Tech will have the world’s tallest Passivhaus building

On Roosevelt Island, Cornell Tech (in collaboration with the Hudson Companies) is going through the motions of realizing a brand new 2.1-million-square-foot technology campus—one that will come complete with the world's tallest building made to Passivhaus standards. The building in question is a 270-foot-tall (26-story) residential tower that will house roughly 350 units for students and save 882 tons of CO2 per year relative to standard construction—the same as planting 5,300 new trees. Construction began in 2015 and the building is due to open this year. New York practices Handel Architects and Steven Winter Associates, along with engineers Buro Happold, worked on the project and made use of numerous "sustainability-focused design elements" to achieve Passivhaus certification. One of these includes a facade that comprises a prefabricated metal panel system. The screen, according to Handel, acts a "thermally insulated blanket." On the southwest side, which looks onto Manhattan, a louver system has been designed to be the structure's "gills." This feature provides an enclosed exterior space where the building's services (such as heating and cooling equipment) lie with sufficient ventilation. In addition to this, low VOC paint caps gassing and improves the air quality inside. “High-rise multifamily housing is a vital part of the solution to the challenges we are facing with increasing world populations and a changing climate,” said Blake Middleton, FAIA, of Handel Architects. “The Cornell Tech commitment to innovation was the impetus to rethink how these buildings are designed and built, and we expect this project to be a game-changer, creating a new paradigm for affordable, high-performance buildings to meet this challenge.” “Constructing the first Passivhaus 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 Passivhaus standards can be brought to scale in the United States and create a new template for green design here in New York City.” The building will open later this year. Blake Middleton will be speaking at the next Facades+ conference in New York April 6 and 7. There he and Lois Arena of Steven Winter Associates will discuss the Passivhaus building in further detail. Seating is limited. To register, go to facadesplus.com.

New collaboration aims to combine PassivHaus performance and prefab

EcoCor, a construction firm from Maine, hopes to bring PassivHaus-quality dwellings to the U.S. Originating in Germany, PassivHaus standards mandate super energy-efficient homes that use little heating or cooling. EcoCor has their eyes set on integrating PassivHaus's quality controls with prefabricated housing. To do so, they are importing specialized tongue-and-groove panel technology from Sweden and working with Pennsylvanian architect Richard Pedranti, who himself has worked on numerous PassivHaus projects in the U.S. https://youtu.be/MvRvvkXcfaQ As reported by Treehugger, EcoCor strays away from entire modular prefab units, instead producing panels, thus saving space and transportation costs. Panels, floors, and walls are assembled in-situ, allowing for more floor plans than would usually be available. Services and finishes such as plumbing and electrical fittings are installed after the panels go up. "The wall has everything; a big space for electrical wiring on site, piles of cellulose insulation, MENTO moisture control membrane, and then a substantial rain screen space," said architect and green design specialist Lloyd Alter. "At the end of each panel there is a special layer of cellulose that squeezes together to the next panel, making the seal very tight." The dwellings sit on raft foundations—where concrete is poured over a raft of rigid insulation—which stops heat loss through the ground. As Alter said, "If it works in Maine, it will work anywhere."

A “New Blue House” in Germany brings together energy industry, science and public sector

"To make sure that all sustainability criteria are considered, we coordinate an integrated general planning team with clear communication structures and a customized working process from the first conception until the phase of use." - kadawittfeldarchitektur

Kadawittfeldarchitektur has built a modern energy efficiency center on the campus of Hochschule Niederrhein in Mönchengladbach, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The zero emission building is constructed to Passive House standards which require thermal bridge free design, superior windows, ventilation with heat recovery, quality insulation and airtight construction.  The driving idea behind the project was to unite the science and energy industry with the university in a collaborative effort to share innovative energy technologies with the public. The building accommodates an energy center for NEW, an energy and water utility company, along with an academic library, a startup center for new business ventures, and an energy laboratory for students. The building is designed to be an object in the landscape – a “solitaire” according to Mathias Garanin, Project Manager for kadawittfeldarchitektur.  “Due to its conception as a solitaire, it is a building without a rear elevation, a building that faces public space in all directions.” Garanin and the kadawittfeldarchitektur project team say the building volume was based on setback distances from neighboring buildings, creating a compact, five-sided volume clad with oppositely inclined blue tinted glass and photovoltaic panels coordinated with the orientation and incidence of solar radiation. “The NEW-Blauhaus building is kept at a distance in order to establish new relationships.” Benefits to the volumetric shape of the building include a favorable volume-to-surface ratio for energy efficiency and a relatively short interior travel distances to maximize collaboration.
  • Facade Manufacturer ertex solartechnik GmbH (photovoltaics), SUMMER facade systems (glazing)
  • Architects kadawittfeldarchitektur
  • Facade Installer SUMMER facade systems, A.Frauenrath BauConcept (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultants Rache Engineering GmbH (engineering)
  • Location Mönchengladbach, Germany
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System curtain wall system on five-story reinforced concrete structure
  • Products black aluminum profiles; floor-to-ceiling sashes with exterior soundproofing, fall-protection panes; dark-blue enameled panes; photovoltaic elements integrated in opaque panes; exterior solar shading device
While the architects have produced a formally engaging homogeneous skin, loaded with performative features acknowledging insulation requirements, acoustics, durability, and user comfort, perhaps the most important role of the building is to clearly communicate a high performance energy agenda. This is achieved in two ways: in the facade, which is clad with photovoltaic panels, and at the base of the building, where an energy center doubles as a showroom visible to onlookers from the exterior. Here, visitors can engage in displays showcasing sustainable energy, along with a specialized highly efficient reversible heat pump system involving an ice storage tank and chiller plant. kadawittfeldarchitektur says the facade is the building’s most exclusive means of expression. “As a significant part of the advanced energy concept, it communicates the approach to conserving resources to the outside and determines the identity of the architecture and its users in the urban environment.” A 4-foot structural grid establishes stacks of window and photovoltaic units that are variably rotated to most effective solar angles. Soundproofing panes located in front of the widow units work to compositionally complete the building envelopes patterned ornamentation. The window units are operable, providing individualized user comfort as required. The north facade receives enameled glass in place of the photovoltaic panels along the north facade were omitted from the design due to performative issues, and replaced with an enameled glass. The elegance of the envelope system inspired an interior design scheme of clarity and communication through “color blocking.” Based on the activity of the building as an energy generation system from dusk to dawn, the coloration of interior spaces combines hues of a defined color spectrum found in sunset and sunrise conditions.

Architect Gary Handel on designing the world’s tallest Passive House residential project

As designers and builders around the world have, in recent years, embraced Passive House standards, one question has remained: will it scale? Is the Passive House approach to sustainable design suited only to small-scale ("house") projects, or might it be applied to other, larger, building types? Handel Architects has answered the latter question with a resounding yes in its Cornell University Residences, a 26-story tower for the institution's new Roosevelt Island Campus. When complete, the project will be the tallest and largest residential building in the world built to the strict Passive House code. Handel Architects' Gary Handel will deliver a keynote address on the challenges and opportunities represented by the Cornell University Residences at the Facades+AM DC symposium March 10. The building's prefabricated metal-panel building envelope is a key contributor to its overall energy-saving strategy. "The facade design is the 'passive driver' of the thermal performance of the building," explained Handel. "Higher thermal performance of the enclosure means less energy used to heat and cool the interior. This in turn means smaller, more efficient equipment to deliver the heat or cooling, which means lower energy input overall and thus a lower 'carbon footprint' than a conventionally enclosed building." The high performance facade, in other words, is the metaphorical substructure upon which the project's "active" systems are built. As with any cutting-edge endeavor, the project has not been without hiccups. "Implementation of the details has probably been the biggest challenge, as some of these details have never been implemented in a building of this size," said Handel. As an example, he cited the difficulty of installing sealing tape along portions of the facade interior that are obstructed by the building structure. In addition, explained Handel, "having the entire team—designers, suppliers, contractors—buy into the concept of a world class sustainable building and be committed to the goal has been a constant challenge." The overall experience has nonetheless been rewarding. "Designing solutions to challenges . . . has been part of the learning process we've undergone," concluded Handel. Hear more from Handel and other key players in the world of facade design and fabrication next month at Facades+ AM DC. See a complete symposium schedule and register today on the event website.

This tiny ultra-efficient PassivHaus was built in just ten days in Australia

Known for being economical in terms of space and sticker price, prefabricated homes are also boasting increasingly abbreviated build times. One modest-sized dwelling in Castlemaine, Australia took a mere 10 days to construct and garnered an esteemed sustainability marque from PassivHaus to boot. One of the world’s fastest-growing energy performance standards, ‘Passive House’ accreditation is doled out solely to homes operating on 90 percent less energy than traditional homes. For consideration, three eco-friendly parameters are paramount: thermal performance, airtightness, and ventilation. The most efficient homes use the sun, internal heat sources, and heat recovery for insulation, avoiding the need for energy-guzzling radiators even in the icy throes of winter. At just 419 square feet, the Passive House in Castlemaine, Australia (the first in the country to receive this certification) comprises a wooden frame with wool and fiber insulation and a facade clad in steel to confer a modern look. Further insulation comes from the triple-glazed windows and specially engineered seals protecting the windows and floors, which is made from an air-tight membrane called Intello. Keeping the interior snug and toasty year-round is an energy recovery system which, contrary to ordinary logic, funnels air into the house, heating it in the winter and cooling it in the summer at low running cost while also keeping moisture out. The system also tamps down heat transfer, giving the exterior of the house a u-value (heat transfer coefficient) of 0.261 watts per square meter. The lower a home’s u-value, the better its insulation. As a result, annual heating, electricity and hot water demands for the Castlemaine Passivhaus are a mere 11 kilowatt hours per square foot. Designed by Australian architectural firm CARBONlite, which specializes in prefab homes, the various sections of the Castlemaine dwelling were built off-site over a 5-day period. Once assembled on site, the exterior was erected and the building made wind and watertight that same day. The house has a mono pitch roof with an overhang to provide shade and minimize overheating during Australia’s scorching summers.

Passive House Laboratory by GO Logic

Architects deliver a North American first with Warren Woods Ecology Field Station.

When Belfast, Maine–based architecture firm GO Logic presented the University of Chicago's Department of Ecology and Evolution with three schematic designs for the new Warren Woods Ecology Field Station, the academics decided to go for broke. Despite being new to Passive House building, the university was attracted to the sustainability standard given the laboratory's remote location in Berrien County, Michigan. "We presented them with three design options: one more compact, one more aggressive formally," recalled project architect Timothy Lock. The third option had an even more complicated form, one that would make Passive House certification difficult. "They said: 'We want the third one—and we want you to get it certified,'" said Lock. "We had our work cut out for us." Thanks in no small part to an envelope comprising a cedar rain screen, fully integrated insulation system, and high performance glazing, GO Logic succeeded in meeting the aesthetic and environmental goals set down by the university, with the result that the Warren Woods facility is the first Passive House–certified laboratory in North America.
  • Facade Manufacturer Kneer-Südfenster (glazing), Neopor (structural insulation), pro clima (breathable building paper)
  • Architects GO Logic
  • Facade Installer GO Logic (general contractor), Ebels Construction (carpentry)
  • Location Warren Woods, MI
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System cedar rain screen with high performance glazing, integrated insulation
  • Products locally-sourced Eastern White Cedar vertical gap siding, Kneer-Südfenster windows and doors, Neopor insulation, pro clima Solitex Quatra-Fronta Building Paper, SIGA tapes
Warren Woods' envelope begins at ground level, with a shallow foundation utilizing GO Logic's patented L-shaped EPS insulation around the edges, and a continuous air-seal layer between the foam and the slab. "The system allows us to pour consistent slab-on-grade without any thermal bridging," explained Lock. The sealing layer connects into the wood stud wall backed by graphite-impregnated Neopor insulation. The architects chose the insulation for its high R-value, knowing that they would need to compensate for the relatively large amount of surface area dedicated to the exterior wall. Pro clima one-way breathable building paper allows the building to expel moisture. GO Logic installed a rain screen of Eastern White Cedar vertical gap siding sourced from the Upper Peninsula "because of the aesthetic goals of the client," said Lock. "They desired a contemporary aesthetic but also [the look of] a Midwestern barn." The architects planned the interior space and allotted glazing judiciously, locating the laboratory on the north side of the building. Its position, under the cantilever over the entry, maximally reduces solar gain—an important consideration given the heat generated by the equipment inside. The classroom space, on the other hand, is positioned on the building's south side, punctuated by a long strip of Kneer-Südfenster glazing. "We are highly critical of windows that are available domestically," said Lock. "The big drawback with North American windows is that the tradeoff for a higher R-value is significantly reduced solar heat gain." Instead, the firm imports Kneer-Süd's products directly from Germany. "In Northern Europe they know how to get all the heat from the sun that they can," he observed. "We also love the way they look." The windows and doors are fully integrated into the air-seal layer using one-way breathable tapes from SIGA, imported (like the pro clima paper) through 475 High Performance Building Supply in Brooklyn. A custom-fabricated stainless steel accordion screen shields the classroom-side glazing from both intruders and the sun. "It's good for security—the university likes that," said Lock. "But the screen was also big for us to control the amount of heat that enters during the summer months and shoulder seasons." The idea, he explained, is that when classes are in session and the weather is nice, the occupants can throw open the doors. When only the laboratory is in operation, the closed screen will cut back on heat gain. In addition, the steel mesh "became something that was also a really exciting design feature," said Lock. "It had a great effect—not just cooling the space, but also softening the natural light."

Packard Foundation Goes Green With EHDD

Net zero energy, LEED Platinum project raises the bar on eco-friendly office design.

For its new headquarters in Los Altos, California, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation put its building budget where its mouth is. The philanthropic organization, whose four program areas include conservation and science, asked San Francisco-based EHDD to design a net zero energy, LEED Platinum building that would serve as a model of cutting-edge green building techniques. “They wanted to achieve net zero in a way that was replicable, and that showed the path forward for others to follow,” said project manager Brad Jacobson. “It was not just a one-off thing, not just a showcase.” The building’s facade was fundamental to its success as an example of sustainable design. “We were surprised at how significant the envelope is, even in the most benign climate,” said Jacobson. “Pushing the envelope to really high performance made significant energy and comfort impacts, and could be justified even on a first-cost basis.” EHDD began by considering the building’s siting. Because the street grid in Los Altos is angled 40 degrees to the south, orienting to the street would result in a long southwest elevation. The architects asked daylighting consultants Loisos + Ubbelohde what penalty this would entail. “They said you have to keep all solar gain out of the southwest facade; if you do that, the energy penalty will be in the realm of less than five percent,” recalled Jacobson. “But you really have to do an excellent job on sunshading. That was our mission.” EHDD designed deep overhangs over much of the facade’s southwest face, and added balconies and shade trees for additional protection. Where the glazing remained exposed, they installed external movable blinds from Nysan that operate on an astronomic time clock. “The blinds worked really well,” said Jacobson. “We were surprised how easy they were to commission and get working, and how relatively robust they are.”
  • Facade Manufacturer Serious Materials (glazing; now Alpen HPP)
  • Architects EHDD
  • Facade Consultants Integral Group (energy), Atelier Ten (thermal modeling of wall), Loisos + Ubbelohde (daylighting)
  • Facade Installer AGA (glazing), DPR Construction (general contractor)
  • Location Los Altos, CA
  • Date of Completion 2013
  • System advanced framing wood stud walls with mineral wallboard insulation, triple element windows, external blinds, FSC western red cedar cladding, Mt. Moriah stone, copper cladding
  • Products Nysan external movable blinds, Roxul insulation, Serious Materials triple-element Windows, FSC-certified red cedar, locally-sourced stone, architectural copper
Thermal bridging was another area of concern for the architects. EHDD worked with Atelier Ten on thermal modeling of the wall, and discovered that any metal stud wall would sacrifice performance. They opted instead for wood stud construction, and switched to 24 on center framing to reduce thermal bridging through the framing structure. For insulation, the architects added one-inch external mineral wallboard from Roxul. On advice from structural engineers Tipping Mar, they installed FRP plates to separate external elements like balconies from the main structure. Because of the building’s location, EHDD did not initially consider triple glazing for the Packard Foundation offices. “We wrote it off at first,” said Jacobson. “We thought, that can’t be cost effective in this climate.” But Integral Group’s energy analysis convinced the design team otherwise. The improvement in comfort allowed by triple element windows from Serious Materials (now Alpen HPP) was such that the architects were able to eliminate a planned perimeter heating system, resulting in an estimated savings of twice the cost of the glazing upgrade. “It’s a really good envelope,” said Jacobson. “We did heat sensor testing of the building, and you can really see that it’s working as it’s supposed to. You don’t see the studs, and the windows are not leaking a lot of heat, so that’s been a real success.” The architects clad the building in local and sustainable materials, including FSC-certified western red cedar, stone sourced from within a 500-mile radius, and architectural copper. “Architectural copper is a really interesting material,” observed Jacobson. “It’s actually about 80-90 percent recycled because it’s valued. It doesn’t need refinishing and it patinas nicely. For a building being built to last 100 years, it has a good shot at never needing to be refinished or replaced.” Jacobson summarizes his firm’s approach to the design of the Packard Foundation headquarters as “Passive House light.” “At the same time we were doing a Passive House for a climate science researcher we’d worked with in the past,” he said. “We were working on both and learning from each. It’s a different type of building, but a lot of the same principles apply: good air sealing, eliminating thermal bridging, and pushing the envelope further than you think makes sense.”

Ice Cream Freezer Reinvented as Santa Fe Architecture Office

Santa Fe, New Mexico–based architecture firm WAMO Studio recently moved into a cool new office—a former walk-in ice cream freezer. The repurposed space, formerly used by Taos Cow Ice Cream to store frozen treats. The 550-square-foot freezer offers a sleek and industrial space with sheet metal walls and industrial-strength insulation. After a few adjustments, WAMO has transformed it from a frigid container to a viable workspace. Partner and architect, Vahid Mojarrab, described the space to the Santa Fe New Mexican as “a perfect fit” for the husband-and-wife architecture company, which specializes in energy-efficient and high-performance design. Mojarrab and his wife, Carol Ware, had been searching for office space for their joint venture since he split from his former architecture partnership earlier this year. When a friend from Taos Cow mentioned a vacant freezer for lease on the ice cream company’s property, WAMO Studio realized the conversion easily: cutting holes for three windows and a door, removing the freezer’s compressor, and adding a heat pump for temperature control. Mojarrab is excited to reveal that the unit is about 50 percent more energy efficient than a common office space because of the insulated sheet metal construction that served its original purpose. Finding a way to recycle current architecture while improving its energy efficiency is something he believes affects the inhabitants of a building as well as its proprietor. “[E]ventually, the tenant pays for it,” he told the New Mexican. “At the end of the year, your landlord comes to you and says, ‘Your utility bill is so high I have to raise your rent.’” The rest of the Taos Cow property, including two separate walk-in freezers, is still dedicated to ice cream storage. With the majority of the original structure, including the freezer door, intact, the office of WAMO Studio blends inconspicuously into its surroundings. WAMO Studio is dedicated to environmentally conscious and site sensitive architecture. They are currently focused on Passive House certified endeavors.