Thornton Tomasetti, the international engineering firm, is providing passive house consulting for Village Centre Apartments, a 48-unit affordable housing community in Brewer, Maine. The 54,400-square-foot project is pursuing the rigorous PHIUS+ certification for ultra-low-energy buildings under the Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS).
Thornton Tomasetti was retained by the owner, Community Housing of Maine, to manage the PHIUS process. This includes performing the detailed energy analysis required for certification, coordinating energy usage and air tightness with the various trades, and working with the contractor and mechanical engineer to optimize building systems for extreme low energy usage. The project team includes CWS Architects and general contractor Wright-Ryan Construction.
• The PHIUS+ standard has some of the most stringent energy performance criteria in the world, resulting in a reduction of building energy use by 60-80 percent. When completed, Village Centre Apartments will be one of the largest PHIUS+ developments in the United States.
• One of the project’s greatest challenges was meeting the cost cap imposed by the Maine State Housing Authority. While the project required more insulation and high-performance triple-pane windows than typical affordable housing projects, cost savings were realized by simplifying and downsizing the mechanical systems. The project illustrates the possibilities for affordable housing developments.
• Thornton Tomasetti’s Colin Schless and Michael Pulaski guided the project team through the selection of the most cost-effective R40 wall system—a double-stud wall filled with cellulose insulation. They also analyzed more than 10 mechanical systems, taking into consideration price point and the ability to achieve the level of efficiency needed to meet passive house standards.
• The significant reduction of heat loss through exterior walls and windows means the apartments can be heated with only a small electrical baseboard of 500 watts—about one third the output of a typical hairdryer.
• High-efficiency energy recovery ventilators were installed to provide fresh air and regain heat from the exhaust air. Simple ductless mini-split air conditioning units were used to provide cooling when needed.
About Thornton Tomasetti (www.ThorntonTomasetti.com)
Thornton Tomasetti provides engineering design, investigation and analysis services to clients worldwide on projects of every size and level of complexity. We fulfill the needs of our clients at every stage in the building life cycle through seven integrated practices in Structural Engineering, Façade Engineering, Forensics, Renewal, Construction Engineering, Property Loss Consulting and Sustainability. Founded in 1956, today Thornton Tomasetti is an 850-person organization of engineering, architecture, sustainability and support professionals collaborating from offices across the United States and in Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
Great Ink Communications – 212.741.2977
Eric Gerard/Lindsay Church/Tom Nolan
Thornton Tomasetti – 917.661.7800
James M. Kent, JKent@ThorntonTomasetti.com
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