The New Gravity Housing conference took place virtually this year, from August 5 to August 8, and Multifamily Passive House: A round table discussion of lessons learned was a conference highlight. One of the presenters, Michelle Apigian of Icon Architecture, has three Passive House multifamily projects under her belt, including Harbor Village, currently under construction in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The firm has six more in design.
It’s a truism that one of the major challenges associated with achieving Passive House performance in any project is getting the details as drawn recreated on the construction site. Apigian related her experiences with that struggle and her solutions, sharing some outstanding details. In her previous projects, she had come to realize that her two-dimensional plans were not detailed enough to communicate precisely what needed to be done at tricky junctions in order to maintain a consistent air barrier. So she changed up how she presented her details, building 3D axonometric drawings that call out the step-by-step construction sequence, often with the products specified for each step (see Figure 1).
Great as they are, these improved details are not a 100% solution. “Often a detail we drew could not be executed,” says Apigian, “so you need to have humility.” Other critical steps to successful construction are building mock-ups of sections or junctions that could be new to the trades on-site, as well as making sure that subcontractors understand how their work fits into the bigger picture.