LEED for Homes Platinum Townhouse

BIA is nearing completion on an eight thousand square foot townhouse owned by Kurt and Shyanne Roeloffs, founders of Protean Company. The project will be New York City’s first townhouse in a landmarked district that will be achieving LEED for Homes Platinum status and full Passive House certification. The superior energy performance of the planned LEED Platinum certification was greatly facilitated through the use of Passive House principles and dual certification by PHIUS, Passive House Institute US. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification program of the U.S. Green Building Council that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. By achieving the standards required of LEED Platinum certification in this townhouse, operation costs decreased significantly with reduced energy and water bills. In turn, the value of the building itself increases by providing a higher quality of life and a more comfortable environment for its occupants.

Through strategic planning sessions early during construction, all parties were able to target collective goals for the LEED home. A third party monitor created awareness around all design and construction decisions made between architects, contractors, and clients to guide construction towards the LEED goals. A master checklist was continually updated to monitor completion and trajectory towards the LEED for Homes Platinum goal. To achieve optimum performance, REM/rate software was used to create energy models that evaluated energy savings and guided decisions for insulation, windows, air sealing, heating and cooling equipment, hot water systems, lighting, and appliances.

All of these installed measures were individually tested onsite during pre-drywall phase and after project completion to verify compliance with US Green Building Council protocols. The testing included assessments of unit tightness, ventilation flow rates, and duct tightness.

Infrared thermal image- Our LEED project (left) and Neighboring townhouse (right)

LEED for Homes encourages awareness of the environmental impact of materials being sourced as well as materials leaving the site. During construction, materials such as floor joists and bluestone pavers were consciously recorded as re-used on site. Other materials were recorded as recycled off-site or discarded. Wood building material was either salvaged from original joists, recycled from the Coney Island boardwalk, or sourced locally from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified Northeast forests fabricators. A commitment to sustainable forestry practices was maintained in the use of all non-local eucalyptus and mahogany woods and low/no VOC paints andvarnishes were applied
The townhouse utilizes the penthouse roof as a greenroof and solar panel platform. Rain water is collected in cisterns to reduce combined sewer overflow risks and to irrigate the indigenous plantings.
The contractor, Robert Taffera, Inc., went through training on the theoretical and installation principles relating to the unique exterior envelope construction necessary to achieve the energy performance standards required by Passive House and the LEED Platinum certifications.

The final result is a townhouse that is:
➢ Healthier through LEED measures and through the continuous introduction of filtered fresh air of the ERV system.
➢ Highly insulated with a well-sealed envelope resulting in a draft free environment with equalized temperature differential as per Passive House standards.
➢ Resulting in a home that decreases it’s heating and cooling requirements by over 60% compared to typical construction as per Passive House standards.

After factoring in the significant reduction in mechanical and electrical demands as well as the increased value retention and longevity, the cost of initiating LEED and passive measures proves to be an extremely valuable investment that will soon be the new standard in construction

Insulated walls

Zola triple glazed window detail