NY Engineers has expertise in design and consulting of passive house construction projects in New York.


Mechanical - HVAC Engineering


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Principle of Passive House Construction

Passive House Diagram


The basic principle of Passive House construction is designing building envelopes with a high level of thermal performance and air-tightness. This minimizes or eliminates the need for heating and cooling systems, reducing the building energy footprint. Mechanical ventilation is complemented with heat recovery to reduce heating and cooling requirements even more. Air quality is also improved because all outdoor air is handled by the mechanical ventilation system, dehumidified and purified as needed. In other words, unwanted air leaks are prevented almost completely. Passive House is an energy performance standard that is applied globally. The original name of the standard is Passivhaus and it was developed in Germany in the 90s.

Is the Passive House standard exclusive for homes?

Although its name suggests residential applications, Passive House construction can also be applied in commercial and industrial buildings. Any construction that meets the standard is considered a “Passive House”, even if it is not a house strictly speaking.


How does the Passive House standard compare with the NYC Energy Conservation Code?

The Passive House standard is much more demanding than the NYC Energy Conservation Code. In fact, the energy code will be reviewed in 2019 and 2022 to increase its performance requirements, but Local Law 32states that requirements cannot be more stringent than the Passive House standard. Another key difference between the Passive House standards and the NYC energy code is in how performance requirements are laid out:

• Passive House focuses on overall performance metrics and low energy intensity.

• The NYC energy code provides prescriptive measures, with specific requirements for each building system.


What are the performance requirements for a building to be considered a Passive House?

As previously described, buildings must meet several demanding performance requirements for certification under the Passive House standard. The performance thresholds are summarized in the following table: 

Energy Performance Target Description Required Value
Specific heating demand 15 kWh/m2/year or less
Specific cooling demand 15 kWh/m2/year or less
Specific heating load 10 W/m2 or less
Specific primary energy demand 120 kWh/m2/year or less
Air changes per hour 0.6 ACH or less (at 50 Pascals)


Is there a Passive House organization in the USA?

The Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) has the goal of promoting passive building practices in the country, and they also provide professional certifications. The PHIUS focuses on five main principles:

  • High-performance insulation
  • Airtight building envelope
  • High-performance windows
  • Heat and moisture recovery
  • Enhancing solar heat gain during the winter, minimizing it during the summer
Who can help me design a Passive House project in New York City?

New York Engineers has ample experience with code-compliant design and consulting. This includes Passive House construction projects like the HANAC Affordable Passive House Complex.

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