Manhattan's First “Passive House” Apartment Building Set for Harlem

Manhattan is set to get its first residential building that measures up to passive house standards, a set of green guidelines that aim to cut heating costs by 90 percent through the use of solar energy, better insulation, and other measures. Developer Synapse Capital recently closed on a 9,900-square-foot lot at 542 West 153rd Street and has plans to construct a 40-unit passive building on the site.

The site's architect will draw on cutting-edge yet relatively inexpensive techniques of passive houses, including heavily insulated walls, triple-pane windows, and an overall airtight structure, to build the property. Although the techniques are innovative, the materials used are not. As a result the project can be energy-efficient at no great additional cost. Fresh air in passive houses is typically pumped in through a device called a heat recovery ventilator, which uses the warm outgoing air that has already been in the house to heat the incoming cool air.