A new technology campus being built for Cornell University in New York will feature one of the most energy-efficient high-rises on the planet.
A 26-story student and faculty residence building at the heart of the complex is being built to Passive House energy standards and will be the tallest and the largest passive-house building in North America, if not the world.
Launched in Germany 25 years ago, passive-house construction remains uncommon in the United States, where it is mostly confined to one-off, self-consciously innovative homes.
The standard takes its name from its core principle: that instead of relying on active, high energy technologies to stay warm or cool, a building ought to “passively” remain comfortable, through design and construction. By effectively retaining heat in winter and keeping it out in summer, passive-house structures consume a fraction of the energy used by otherwise comparable buildings.
Typically architects position the building to capture steady southern sun; design a compact shape with a minimal exterior surface area; insulate and seal the whole thing snugly; and install super-efficient windows and ventilation.