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Building the World We Want by ClimateYou Editor Abby Luby

Last month, the North American Passive House Network held their sixth annual national conference, NAPHN19, in New York City. For five days, a wide range of professionals attended including scientists, architects, engineers, owners, labor groups, educators, policymakers, students and high-performance building enthusiasts. Over one hundred speakers and experts were at the conference; a list can be found here.  The commercial and residential building sector accounts for 39% yearly of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the United States, more than any other sector. … Most of these emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels to provide heating, cooling and lighting, and to power appliances and electrical equipment.

The conference featured 30 sessions ranging from general policy to highly technical specifics.

Reducing a building’s carbon footprint was the overarching theme. Workshops, conference sessions and tours focused on a wide variety of new, as well as tried and tested approaches to reduce carbon footprints, especially those of large buildings. An Expo showcased an impressive number and variety of businesses pursuing high-performance, energy-efficient systems for the green building sector.


NAPHN19 tours around New York City visited large office buildings and multifamily retrofits using sustainable materials. “The House” on Roosevelt Island, which is situated on Cornell Tech’s new 2.1 million square foot technology campus. The building is designed to reinforce a unique model of academic integration, multi-disciplinary research, and collaboration; it’s a lively and comfortable living place for informal social interactions between students and faculty. Several  houses known as Brooklyn Passive Row – one of which is the last surviving colonnade homes in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District, was rescued from near total disrepair and renovated into an open and inviting layout using all the Passive House elements. Others in the same neighborhood are currently being air sealed and insulated, retrofitted, constructed with horizontal and vertical expansions, triple glazed window replacements, mineral wool insulation, solar panels installed to provide 50% – 75% electricity for some of the buildings.

Conferences like this one are paving the way and changing the very core of constructing buildings and homes to give to each building’s carbon footprint. The theme of the conference was to “Build the World We Want.” It certainly seems that world is within our grasp.



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