North American Passive House Conference Features Two Presentations on Nuthatch Hollow Living Building

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At the 13th Annual North American Passive House Conference (NAPHC) in Boston from September 21-22, 2018, two presentations featured Binghamton University’s Nuthatch Hollow project. The NAPHC is the leading passive building conference for climate-specific zero energy design, construction, and building science expertise.

Nuthatch Hollow is an environmental classroom and research facility located proximate to campus on a 70+ acre nature preserve. The 3,000 square foot facility will be used primarily by the Environmental Studies Program for teaching and research, as well as by the larger University for gatherings and community-based educational programs. The project team is combining the pursuit of Living Building Challenge certification with pursuit of Passive House certification as a way to improve the overall resilience of the project, reduce the size and upfront cost of the on-site renewable energy system, and push the market for sustainable products and construction methods.

Nicole Schuster, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, CPHC, Associate Principal, presented with David Meyer, founding Partner of Pathfinder Engineers, on “Passive + Active: Batteries, Resilience, and the Duck Curve (CT).” As more and more buildings are incorporating on-site renewable energy systems, it’s becoming increasingly important to understand how those soon-to-be-ubiquitous systems affect the current grid structure, and to develop strategies for integrating the new with the old. At Nuthatch Hollow, which is pursuing Living Building Challenge (LBC) and Passive House Certification, the project team is tackling this issue from two directions. Starting with the “Passive” approach, the building is designed to meet the aggressive heating, cooling, and energy limitations of PHIUS +2015. On the “Active” side, the project incorporates a PV array on the roof, which will be sized to supply 105% of the project’s net annual energy needs, a Living Building Challenge requirement, along with a battery storage system, all of which is designed to be a self-sufficient system, although is grid-tied for flexibility.

Christina Aßmann, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C, CPHC, Project Architect, presented “Virtual Reality at Nuthatch Hollow – An Emerging Tool for Sustainability Design Visualization of High Performance Buildings” with Amber Bartosh, RA, LEED AP BD+C, Assistant Professor at Syracuse University and Co-Director of the Interactive Design and Visualization Lab (IDVL). Their presentation will highlight the application of Virtual Reality (VR) as a visualization and simulation tool to support the design process and educational outreach of Nuthatch Hollow. In addition to using VR as a design tool to represent the full-scale spatial and aesthetic qualities of the Nuthatch Hollow project, the design team aimed to extend VR capabilities to represent additional characteristics critical to achieve the Passive House targets including daylighting, ventilation and public education outreach. The creation of this multi-faceted representation of the project required the design team to implement a variety of tools and methods which engaged BIM modeling, simulation and analysis, and user interaction platforms intended for video game production.

Derek Goodroe