Over the course of the semester, students designed and built two 8 x 8 x 8 feet ice box structures from scratch after learning about sustainability industry manufacturers’ products and methods. The first structure was built according to the NYC building code, while the second was built to Passive House standards. Ice blocks were then placed in the finished structures for a week to test which one had superior thermal performance and could better preserve the ice.
“The students learned both the Passive House principles and standards and how to inspire others in climate action through their exploration of high-performance building design and its
positive impact on environmental, health, economic, and social resilience,” said In Cho, visiting assistant professor of undergraduate architecture. “Pratt students will be able to actively engage in the growing workforce of the green economy that aims to reduce 80% of carbon emissions by 2050.”
Passive House refers to a set of five building principles developed in the late 20th century by Dr. Wolfgang Feist to improve the air quality, thermal control, and energy efficiency of housing. In recent years, Passive House has been recognized as key to efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and achieve the Paris agreement’s goals of curbing climate impacts.
New York City is updating local building codes to achieve its own climate targets and align with Passive House—an initiative that Cho, co-founder of the advocacy organization Passive House for Everyone, has been involved in. Whereas 40% of emissions come from the built environment worldwide, that number rises to more than 70% in New York due to the city’s density. Incorporating Passive House standards into both new and existing buildings would greatly reduce New York’s energy consumption.