Passive House Schools on the Horizon

Two new Passive House public schools are in the works in downtown Brooklyn, Alloy Development announced in December 2019. The schools are part of a major new development that will include the first all-electric skyscraper in New York City—a 38-story, 500-foot-tall tower. Only the school buildings, located in a very busy section of Flatbush Avenue, will be designed to meet the Passive House standard.

“We committed to Passive House standards during the public approval process in an effort to establish new standards for public school construction in New York City,” says Jared Della Valle, CEO and founder of Alloy. “We also believe that the interior qualities that Passive House affords are conducive to a healthy and focused learning environment.” The 489 State Street development is a public-private partnership with the city of New York’s Education Construction Fund.

Alloy has developed several Passive House projects in the past, including Della Valle’s personal home. The two schools—an elementary school and a Khalil Gibran International Academy high school—are expected to be the first passive schools in the city. They are being designed by the Architecture Research Office, a New York City-based architecture firm.

Buildings are New York City’s largest contributor to carbon emissions, which is why Alloy has committed to raising industry standards for lower emissions in building and development to combat global climate change. “We are focused on producing built solutions that foster healthy communities and positively impact environments,” says Della Valle.

Della Valle believes in the sustainable qualities of Passive House but does not find it suitable for all projects. The all-electric 100 Flatbush Tower, which will be triangular shaped, will not be Passive House, because the building’s envelope-floor area ratio would have made meeting that standard too difficult.

The tower and the two schools constitute the first part of a two-part development that will include 256 residential units along with 100,000 square feet of Class A office space and 30,000 square feet of retail space. This first part is set to be complete in 2023. The second part— a 69-story residential, office, and retail tower—will include 200 affordable housing units. The design standard for the second part has not been determined yet, but the development is set to be complete in 2026.

Author: Sydney Gladu