The US Transitional Housing Corporation has cut the ribbon on the first multi-family Passive House certified residential project in Washington DC.

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Commons project involved a deep retrofit of three dilapidated 50-year-plus buildings into 36 apartments for low income or homeless families.

The apartments are expected to achieve close to net zero energy, through sustainability initiatives including ultra air tightness, a super-insulated building envelope, balanced ventilation with heat recovery, tuned solar shading, high performance window specifications, minimisation of thermal bridges, efficient active space conditioning and roof-mounted solar PV panels.

ESD consultants Passive to Positive said the then-mayor of Washington DC, Vincent Gray, perfectly captured the value of Passive House standards for low income families in his speech at the groundbreaking ceremony in October 2014.

“You know this Passive House design business, they tell me about it, and I am sure there are all these terrific explanations of what it is and how it works, but you know what it really means to these families that are going to live in these buildings? It means they will pay almost nothing for utilities! That is what it means to these people!” Mr Gray reportedly said.

THC’s executive director Polly Donaldson said the Weinberg Commons are proof that “regardless of income level, sustainable housing can be available for all.”

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