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Cornell Tech Set to Build World’s Tallest, Largest, Passive House Building in NYC

hand holding eco house icon in nature

By 2018, it’s estimated that the majority — 84% — of new single-family home building will incorporate “green” or eco-friendly practices. However, the zeal in which energy efficient homes are being built is also spilling into the commercial and educational sector.

Cornell Tech, an applied sciences program part of Cornell University, is currently building a massive futuristic campus located on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. The best part of the campus won’t be the academic buildings or even the green spaces, however; surprisingly, it’s the student dorms.

The campus’s staggering 250-foot tall residential high-rise is set to be so energy efficient that it will set the standard for the way other buildings are constructed in New York City, if not the entire country.

Housing 520 people upon its completion in 2017, the high-rise will become the world’s tallest and largest passive-house building, meeting the uncompromising energy efficient requirements established by Germany’s renowned Passive House Institute.

Compared to a normal building, the new campus will save 882 tons of CO2 each year. While that may seem like a lot, it barely puts a dent in the average yearly emissions of coal power plants, which can produce as much as 3.5 million tons of C02 each year. However, the eco-friendly campus sets the stage for a future in which highly efficient passive house buildings become the norm and emissions savings become standard.

Earning a reputation for being among the most eco-friendly buildings in the world, Passive House buildings require very little energy in terms of heating and cooling. In order to meet Passive House’s high energy standards, “You need to have every crack sealed,” according to Blake Middleton, a partner at Handel Architects, which designed the building. As such, the building will have to be completely airtight to pass.

The $115 million campus will use up to 60% to 70% less energy than other buildings of its size. Though it will cost nearly 5% more to construct and develop, that money will be recouped several times over in energy savings.