Field Trip Friday: Passive House on 174 Grand Street

Last week OHNY staff members met Sam Bargetz, an architect at Loadingdock5 and certified Passive House consultant, to tour the Passive House at 174 Grand Street in Williamsburg. (Hae-In, who lives in Williamsburg, passes this site almost daily and was especially excited to see what lay beyond the hot pink door!)

Loadingdock5 Architecture, an architectural studio also located in Williamsburg, emphasizes sustainable design solutions and efficient technologies using the Passive House standard.

door to 174 Grand Street

The Passive House concept is a comprehensive system that aims to represent the highest energy standard, reducing heating energy consumption of buildings by 75 to 90% by creating a very well-insulated, virtually air-tight building that is primarily heated by passive solar gain and by internal gains from people and electrical equipment, so that energy losses are minimized.

staircase to the third floor

This includes high performance triple-glazed windows, super-insulation and balanced energy recovery ventilation to reduce energy use and carbon emission, as well as thinking about heat gain through shading and window orientation.


174 Grand Street is a mixed use building, with 1,500 square feet of residential space on three floors above 900 square feet of retail space on the street level and basement. With this project, Loadingdock5 aims to be NYC’s first new building that adheres to the strict German Passive House standard. To become certified as a Passive House, a structure has to meet stringent guidelines that are prescribed within the Passive House standards for energy efficiency, air tightness and construction quality.


The walls are load-bearing 8″ concrete masonry units with exterior insulation and the windows are reversible windows from Walch in Austria. Sam spoke with us about working to invent systems and find the materials, products and equipment that would help meet the Passive House standards. It can take longer (and sometimes be more expensive) to find some of the materials, and also requires the architects and engineers to be smart about material use and solutions.

rooftop cooling system

Sam also took us up to the roof to see the energy recovery ventilator, to meet heating and cooling demand.

Ultimately, the idea is that more certified Passive House buildings will help lead to greater energy independence and reduced carbon emissions in the U.S.

studio space (not part of the Passive House)

Although the residential space is Passive House certified, the downstairs studio and retail space is not, as it would be hard to have a retail space where the doors are constantly opening and closing, to meet the strict requirements. The retail store will open in May.


Although the concept is growing in the U.S., Sam mentioned that in Europe, over the past 10 years or so, more than 15,000 buildings, ranging from single and multifamily residences, schools and office buildings, have been designed and built to the Passive House standard.

174 Grand Street will be another new site during the upcoming OHNY Weekend, October 15 & 16, 2011! Follow the design and building progress by checking out their blog and map of Loadingdock5’s other projects around the city.

174 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211


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