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Thu Feb 24, 2022, 09:45 AM

'It's a sanctuary': the magic of quiet, low-cost, allergy-free 'passive' homes

The first night Stephanie Silva spent at her new Brooklyn apartment was uncommonly quiet. So was the following morning and the next day. The 32-year-old native New Yorker had forgotten the last time she was able to mute the city of 8.2 million.

“It’s like a sanctuary,” Silva says, but as soon as she opens the street-facing windows, the bustling outside noise fills her living room. Once she closed the windows again, the difference was instantly noticeable. “Since moving here my anxiety went out the window,” Silva says, referring to the 10-floor affordable apartment in Ocean Hill, part of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. But what sets this 67-unit building apart from the rest of the housing in the city is its “passive” element.

A passive building is designed to use minimal energy. To be efficient in heating and cooling, the space is sealed with airtight insulation – like a vacuum flask – so that it can keep the heat in during winter while keeping it out during the summer. Homes, schools, offices and other buildings built to passive house standards usually use thicker, high-performance windows – like triple-pane models, which have three layers of glass. Another key step is using the energy recovery process in the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. Known as ERV, the ventilator, by way of two fans, acts as the lungs of the building, drawing in clean, fresh and filtered air and pushing out the stale air.

In New York and other cities, passive design is catching on as a popular option for new apartment buildings and homes, and it’s easy to see why: people love living in them.

“I did not suffer an allergy attack the way I usually would,” said Silva, who has dust and seasonal allergies. “The building purifies the air and I can sleep through the night.”

The continuous exchange of air, coupled with superinsulated construction, means no more smell of whatever the downstairs neighbors are cooking, no more traffic noise in the living room, and no more clickety-clack of old radiators. Each room in Silva’s three-bedroom apartment has its own heating and cooling unit, allowing her family to heat one room at a time instead of the entire home. “My daughter hates heat, while I like my room to be nice and warm,” Silva says. “I love the fact that each room has its own separate temperature.”


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Reply 'It's a sanctuary': the magic of quiet, low-cost, allergy-free 'passive' homes (Original post)
Jilly_in_VA Feb 2022 OP
Hermit-The-Prog Jan 1 #1

Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Sun Jan 1, 2023, 07:48 AM

1. Wish I had gone further toward this when building my house.

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