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Bushwick Passive Building Saves Energy, Provides Peace

Could passive design be the future of home architecture? This Bushwick apartment proves it should be.
Knickerbocker Commons
Knickerbocker Commons. Credit: Google Maps

Residential Bushwick development, Knickerbocker Commons, is providing tenants with affordable housing, clean air, protection from extreme weather ... and a quiet respite from the sea of noise just outside its windows, reports The Guardian.

“Not only are you changing the life of the building,” said Satpal Kaur, an architect who helped deliver Knickerbocker Commons, “you’re changing the life of the people who are in there.”

Knickerbocker Commons Facade
The facade of Knickerbocker Commons, which shades windows in the summer and maximizes solar exposure in the winter. Credit: @NYCHousing on Twitter

Utilizing light and shade, the apartment's unique facade replaces traditional heating systems. It also uses low-voltage equipment and water reuse. Overall, this apartment consumes 20% of the energy an average NYC building of its size uses.

Passively-designed buildings feature airtight insulation and thicker windows, ​​along with energy-efficient heating, cooling and ventilation systems. As a result, passive houses are estimated to use 70% less energy than traditionally-insulated buildings of the same size.

With lower energy use, comes lower utility bills. In Ocean Hill, passive design cut resident Stephanie Silva’s utility bill from $135 to $57 the first month after moving in.

Riseboro, a NYC nonprofit, developed Knickerbocker Commons in 2014. Since then, Riseboro has constructed over 30 affordable, passive apartments around the city.

“If we just make this a standard practice, comfort would be for everyone,” Kaur said.

Katey St. John

About the Author: Katey St. John

Katey St John is a journalist, documentary filmmaker, activist, and baker whose passions lie where food and sustainability intersect.
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