HANAC Corona Senior Residence designed by NY Engineers is now 100% PHI certified!

Topics: affordable housing, HANAC, HANAC Corona Senior Residences, senior housing, passive house

Michael Tobias
Author : Michael Tobias on October 19, 2020

The HANAC Corona Senior Residences project, which uses an MEP  and fire protection design by New York Engineers, was fully approved as a Passive House Certified Building in October 2020.  This certification is managed by the Passivhaus-Institut from Germany, and is characterized by its challenging energy efficiency requirements. 

  • New York City has more than a million buildings, but there are less than 100 Passive House projects as of 2020, and HANAC has now joined this exclusive group.
  • HANAC is also the first affordable senior housing project in NYC that meets the demanding Passivhaus standard.
  • The project was completed in 2018, with 68 dwelling units and 50,000 sq.ft. of floor space. This makes it one of the largest senior residences in the USA with a Passive House Certification.

Think! Architecture and Design were the project architects for the HANAC Corona Senior Residences, while New York Engineers provided the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection designs, along with consulting services. The HANAC Corona Senior Residences prove that a project can achieve energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality, while being affordable.


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A passive house design benefits from nature, taking advantage of site conditions like wind, sunshine and shading. This reduces dependence on energy consuming systems such as lighting fixtures and HVAC equipment. Thanks to these design features, a passive house consumes over 90% less energy than a typical building.

In addition to energy efficiency, the Passive House Certification also seeks a high level of indoor air quality and acoustic comfort, creating pleasant indoor spaces. Although the certification name uses the word “house”, it can be used in residential and commercial projects alike.

What Are the Requirements of a Passive House Design?

To become a Passive House Certified Building, a project must meet several performance levels in terms of space heating, primary energy consumption, airtightness, and thermal comfort. The following table summarizes the requirements of the international standard:

Passivhaus Requirements

Performance Level Required

Space heating efficiency

Maximum energy demand of 15 kWh per m2 per year, or 10 W per m2 at peak consumption.

Space cooling efficiency

Same as space heating efficiency, with an allowance for dehumidification  that changes by climate zone.

Primary energy use

Appliances should not exceed 120 kWh per m2 per year.

Airtightness

Maximum airflow is 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals.

Thermal comfort

Indoor temperature should not exceed 25°C (77°F) more than 10% of the hours in a year.

 

The HANAC Corona Senior Residences achieved the following performance level, meeting the international criteria for a Passive House Classic certification:

This performance level is possible with a combination of architectural and MEP design features that minimize energy consumption. The HANAC Corona Senior Residences will have a minimal need for space heating, which is the top energy expense for most NYC buildings.

How Can Passive House Design Benefit NYC Buildings?

Passive house designs could play a key role in meeting the NYC emissions reduction targets. The Climate Mobilization Act, also known as the NYC Green New Deal, will introduce building emission limits in two steps in 2024 and 2030. It is estimated that the first limits will affect 20% of buildings, while the second set of limits will affect 75% of buildings. 

A passive house design consumes 90% less energy than a typical building, and emissions are strongly related with energy consumption. For developers who are planning building projects in NYC, an effective way to meet the emission limits is by getting a passive house design from the start. This will save expensive retrofits during the next decade, and also thousands of dollars in energy bills. Emissions can be reduced further if a building also uses renewable energy technologies like solar panels or geothermal heat pumps.

The indoor air quality of a Passive House Certified building also provides a safety advantage during the COVID-19 pandemic, since health and engineering authorities agree that low air quality leads to a higher infection risk.

A new construction project provides an excellent chance to use design concepts from the Passive House Certification, since the architecture and building envelope can be optimized for energy efficiency. Passive house design features can also be applied in existing buildings, but their use is limited by the existing structure.

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