The formula for the design and development of passive home certified multifamily projects is becoming much more precise. These projects, shared here by Curbed, give us insights into the extra costs to make it happen and the subsequent enormous cost savings, along with benefit to the environment.

When Sendero Verde, a 100-percent affordable apartment development in East Harlem in New York City, opens its doors in 2022, it’ll live up to its name, which means Green Path in Spanish. Within the city block where the new series of high-rise towers will stand, residents of the 361 apartments will be able to stroll through new landscaping and public spaces. A charter school will be on-site and a short walk away.

The development will also exemplify a green path in a more symbolic sense: Sendero Verde will be the largest passive house apartment building in the nation, exemplifying environmentally sound construction practices.

Building designed and constructed to the passive house standard have a number of sustainability goals in mind—including a tightly sealed exterior, sustainable energy use, and improved air quality—making them both efficient and extremely cheap and sustainable to heat and cool. And this style, once reserved for expensive single-family homes, is becoming increasingly popular for new multi-family projects.

A rendering of a forthcoming apartment complex in Manhattan with a large courtyard.
Sendero Verde (“green path”), a 100-percent affordable project in East Harlem, will be the nation’s largest passive house project when it opens in 2022. Courtesy L+M Development Partners
Sendero Verde is far from the only large-scale passive house apartment project in the works. In Kansas City, the under-construction Second and Delaware Project will add 276 luxury rental units to the Market City neighborhood when it opens this fall. And in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the under-construction Finch Cambridge passive house project will be the largest affordable housing project completed in the city in at least the last four decades.

This building style offers a significant benefit to tenants, especially those living in affordable housing. Residents of a passive house building enjoy lower utility bills and better air quality. The nation’s underfunded affordable housing stock—which loses 10,000 units annually due to deterioration and lack of maintenance—will need to be replaced and expanded in the coming years. Such an investment was a key plank in the housing platforms of many Democratic presidential hopefuls this year, including the People’s Housing Platform of representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, which would set aside billions of dollars for clean energy retrofits.

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