March 8, 2016

475 On-Site: Cornell Tech Details

Deborah Moelis of Handel Architects Shares Designs Of The World’s Tallest Passive House

4The Cornell Tech residential tower project has been widely covered in the media – from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal,  Treehugger and The Atlantic. But those stories have only scratched the surface. As a company dedicated to providing in-depth information to professionals, we were hungry to dig in and share detailed knowledge.  And Deborah and the team at Handel Architects, in keeping with the spirit of the Passive House movement, have been very forthcoming in sharing their process and opinions with the architectural community.  As Deborah states in the video below, “We are looking to change the way buildings are built… Any New York City Housing project should absolutely be going this route, there is really no question.” We at 475 couldn’t agree more, and we can’t wait to help architects and builders across North America make it happen.

We’re very proud that INTELLO Plus is providing the interior airtightness and vapor control for this project. As we do with many of our customers, 475 worked closely with project team to help create details that solved design problems and worked with the needs of the project.  And from the acknowledgement of Passive House standards in New York City’s building plans, to Mayor de Blasio’s supporting statements at the Cornell Tech groundbreaking ceremony, we’re seeing high hopes for low-energy building design.

Recipe for the Cornell Tech Passive House air barrier

  • INTELLO Plus – Membrane providing continuous interior airtightness and smart vapor control
  • TESCON VANA – For sealing INTELLO Plus membrane seams
  • TESCON PROFIL – For airtight connections around windows and doors
  • CONTEGA SOLIDO SL – For sealing INTELLO Plus connections to masonry and metal
  • ROFLEX gaskets – Quick, easy, and robust airtight EPDM gaskets for around pipes
  • KAFLEX gaskets – EPDM gaskets, similar to ROFLEX for around wire and cable penetrations

As you can see, the above material list is no different than the list we would provide for a tiny house. It’s simply a matter of scale.

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4 Responses to 475 On-Site: Cornell Tech Details

  1. Ed McGuire March 8, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

    How are panels repaired/replaced in the event of damage to the panels after building is completed? Once and done seems to deny reality, say exterior storm damage. With the air barrier inside the panel system; is simple access to resealing the air barrier designed into the interior finish wall system?
    The design looks well thought out in getting an air-tight building up and running, but maintaining that design throughout the life of the building is a bigger challenge than getting a contractor on board with making the design a reality.
    There has to be a way to efficiently maintain the integrity of the building throughout it’s lifetime.

    • Ken March 8, 2016 at 5:28 pm #

      Hi Ed,
      Replacing an entire wall panel whether the airbarrier is inboard or outboard will require substantial disruption to the interior of the building – based on the clipping, firestopping and other systems involved. The beauty of the interior air barrier is that it is easily testable and repairable all the way up under construction. The only long term maintenance expected for such a system is the recaulking the outboard joints after they fail in 20 years or so.

  2. Bob March 10, 2016 at 10:28 am #

    Does the contractor building the job have any input or contribution in the design of the details to achieve the Passive house standards?

    • John March 10, 2016 at 2:44 pm #

      Bob, we like to say: Passive House is a team sport. There is a high level of understanding, communication, and feedback between all the parties involved – and if you don’t have that, you’re going to have a hard time. For this particular project, it is our understanding that there was a large amount of communication between the architecture team, the company building the panels, and those installing the panels to ensure designs with the greatest success, ease of assembly, and long-term durability.

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