One of the fun things about owning an unusual house is you never know who is going to stop by. Today we welcomed two visitors from Farmingdale (N.Y.) State College on Long Island, which is gearing up to build a passive house on campus to serve as a model for the New York metro area.
No passive house yet exists in downstate New York, where nearly half of homes are heated by soot-generating fuel oil. Converting to cleaner fuels and reducing energy consumption are local environmental priorities.
As envisioned, the Farmingdale project would include a public space for meetings and workshops where visitors could experience a passive house up close, as well as a residence for visiting scholars, said Kamal Shahrabi, dean of the college’s School of Engineering Technology. Ideally students at the technology college would help build it.
A native of Iran, Shahrabi agreed “the time is ripe” for passive house technology to take hold in the U.S. He and Dawn Grzan, the college’s director of research and sponsored program development, traveled all the way here to Chicago for a day to get an idea of what passive house design can do. They were escorted by Chicago architect Mark Miller, who is executive director of the National Passive House Alliance.
The college received a $206,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to build its demonstration building, which will include solar panels, wind and other renewable energy sources, Shahrabi said. They hope to attract corporate sponsors to kick in the remaining $500,000 or so the project is expected to cost, plus more to continue research and operations down the road. The completion deadline is December 2013.
According to its web site, the college has a strong foothold in renewable energy research, including acting as the site of the first utility-scale photovoltaic demonstration project in the Northeast. It’s about 35 miles east of Manhattan.