About 96 St. Marks
96 St. Marks, the first multi-family Passive House in the United States, used to be your typical four-story Brooklyn brownstone. Developer Brendan Aguayo of Aguayo and Huebner purchased the Prospect Heights property and teamed with architect Ken Levenson to renovate and redevelop the 80-year-old building into a forward-thinking model of green construction. Aguayo and Levenson anticipated higher construction costs and a longer time frame for the project, but many of the costs for 96 St. Marks have been offset by Passive House materials and smaller mechanical systems. A typical building retrofit takes about eight months; 96 St. Marks will be completed within a year.
Eco-conscious developers aren’t the only ones who reap the rewards of Passive House. There’s the environment, of course. Residents of 96 St. Marks can also count the benefits — through lower monthly energy bills and fewer maintenance costs. Passive Houses are heated primarily by passive solar gain and active gains coming from inside the home. Well-insulated, virtually airtight construction minimizes the loss of this energy, which ultimately saves up to 90 percent on space heating costs. In warm weather, Passive House works the opposite way, locking cool air inside and keeping heat out. Meanwhile, an energy recovery ventilator maintains a balanced fresh air supply. 96 St. Marks will use 60 to 70 percent less energy than other buildings of its kind.
In many ways, Passive House technology alleviates the unpleasant side effects of living in an urban environment. Airtight passive houses don’t have drafts, so temperatures stay regulated. They keep street noise out and are more fire-safe. Constant air filtration produces the healthiest possible indoor air environment. “A Passive House is ideal for people who want a better quality of life, whether they consider themselves ‘green’ or not,” says developer Brendan Aguayo.
The residents of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn fit the bill. Many are health-conscious and mindful of the environmental impact of the products they use. But more than anything, they’re everyday New Yorkers. They want to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer. They want to live in the safest, most comfortable home they can afford. They want the best for their families.
96 St. Marks is the first multi-family Passive House in the U.S., but it won’t be the last. The advantages and technology are already proven. Building a Passive House doesn’t cost that much more than typical construction – it actually saves money in energy costs and health benefits over time. “This isn’t a trend or a fashion,” says architect Ken Levenson. “Passive Houses will become the new standard. People in Europe are already on board, so it makes sense that New York is next.”