Action Housing is building two apartment buildings with two different energy standards in Pittsburgh, Penn., in an experiment to test the efficiency of a passive energy design compared to current energy codes, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
To enable comparison, both buildings are to be built three stories high and 30,000 square feet.
A passive house is air tight with heat recovery ventilation. The design, which includes triple-insulated windows, is estimated to reduce energy consumption by 90 percent compared to a home built before code standards in 2009, according to Morgan Law of Kaplan Thompson Architects, Action Homes passive homes consultant, the paper reports.
A 2012 update to the 2009 codes will be used in the other apartment building. The updated standard is “pretty rigorous,” according to Action Housing.
Action Housing wants to track the buildings’ energy costs over a period of 15 years, the paper reports.
The high-rise building, home to 900 employees of the Austrian Raiffeisen-Holding Group, features superior indoor air quality and minimal energy consumption. The building’s energy is provided by a photovoltaic system as well as a combined heating, cooling and power plant. In addition, the waste heat from the data center is re-used; cooling partly takes place via the nearby Danube Canal.
Helping to achieve the Passive House Standard were the energy efficiency of the building’s glazed facade, the building component connections and the mechanical systems. In combination with optimized shading equipment, the heating and cooling demand was reduced by 80 percent compared with conventional high-rise buildings, says the Passive House Institute.