Project Square Footage (ft2):
Green Building Certifications:
Moshier Studio, Envinity, Inscale Architects, Michael L. Norris Associates, J.A. Luciano & Sons, Brace Engineering, Steger Masonry, Dinsmore Welding and Fabricating, Marcon Roofing, Allied Systems, Peak Building Products
Please provide a brief description of the project.
The West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund is a non-profit organization that provides investment capital and grant making to spur the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency. In 2019 WPPSEF purchased a vacant and decaying mid-block commercial building on US Route 6 in Kane PA, a rural community, and committed to renovating the building to the EnerPHit standard, in keeping with their mission as well as to demonstrate the Passive House strategies and train the local workforce in the methods necessary to achieve Certification.
How did the building's team work together to address sustainability and building performance?
Moshier Studio worked closely with Envinity, the Construction Manager during the entire design and construction phases of the project. Together with the sub consultants, sub contractors and material suppliers, the airtightness, insulation and building services systems were tightly integrated and carefully executed.
What were major challenges in the project related to building performance and how did the project team work to overcome them?
The 5 principles of Passive House, airtightness, insulation, high performance windows, thermal bridge free design and energy recovery ventilation are challenging to deliver in new construction, so trying to deliver these in a renovation was a challenge. An additional challenge was the pandemic and the ensuing supply chain issues. The entire team rallied around the challenges, the CM did a superb job of explaining the why and how of maintaining airtightness and thermal breaks, and we all learned how to be patient waiting for door hardware
What are the project's key sustainability features?
A major focus of the design and construction was airtightness. A fluid-applied vapor-permeable air barrier was applied to the party and rear walls after the inside surfaces were cleaned and pointed. The OSB sheathing on the roof and east wall have a factory-applied vapor-permeable air barrier attached, which was sealed with acrylic tape and flashing. The same sheathing product was used over the existing wood subfloor on the ground floor to separate the unconditioned basement from the conditioned upper floors.
The insulation scheme was to apply 200 mm of continuous insulation to the outside of the air barriers on the new construction and to the outside of the air-sealed and weather-sealed existing masonry. All wall insulation is graphite polystyrene (GPS) board, and the roof insulation is polyisocyanurate board. The ground floor over the basement has 300 mm of dense-pack blown-in fiberglass in the joist spaces, with 100 mm of GPS continuous below. Interior mineral fibre insulation was added at transition zones where the party walls intersected with exterior walls and inside the structural steel frame to mitigate conditions where the frame contacted the ground, and locations where the continuous insulation needed to be reduced due to adjacent construction.
The windows are a combination of fixed and operable UPVC windows and timber-framed curtainwall. All are triple-glazed with various low-e coatings tuned to the orientation. The east façade is clad with 50mm thick regionally sourced sandstone panels, and the rear façades are clad with ribbed steel siding. Both cladding systems are attached with thermally broken clip systems. The steel frame also allowed larger windows, admitting daylight and winter solar gain.
The mechanical system consists of a single Energy Recovery Ventilator serving the entire building. Heating and cooling is supplied by a Variable Refrigerant Flow heat pump with ducted and un-ducted air handlers throughout the building. Domestic Hot Water for the toilet rooms and office kitchenettes is tempered by small point-of-use demand heaters. The smoothie bar is served by a heat pump water heater that uses the heat rejected by the reach-in refrigerators and freezer in the bar’s storage room.
LED lighting is used throughout the building, and all appliances are Energy Star rated. One hundred and two 435-Watt PV panels on the roof, plus three 305-Watt panels on the front canopy supply 47,547 kWh/yr. of on-site renewable energy.
Beyond the performance results summarized below, the project successfully exposed the community to the concepts of Passive House and created interest in and familiarity with the standard. The community embraced and supported the projectenthusiastically during and after the construction period. Several dozen local tradespeople were trained in the craft of creating and maintaining an air barrier and thermally broken envelope throughout construction. During the project, the construction manager, who previously had his CPHT credential, also earned his CPHC, the local associated architect earned her CPHD, and the general contractor earned his CPHT credential. The project was designed and constructed during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in changes to material selections and delays due to supply chain and cost issues.
• Treated Floor Area 9838 ft²
• Space Heating Demand 4.41 kBTU/(ft²yr).
• Space Cooling Demand 1.91 kBTU/(ft²yr).
• Total Primary Energy Demand (Source EUI) 31.82 kBTU/(ft²yr).
• Total PER 15.02 kBTU/(ft²yr).
• Airtightness 0.23 ACH50.
What are your main take-aways or lessons learned from this project? Have these lessons informed other projects?
Own the envelope!” – Craig Stevenson
Model early. Model often.
Look for and manage thermal bridges CONSTANTLY
Build a culture of hypervigilance for air barrier and thermal breaks through the entire project team
Avoid metal inside the envelope assembly, especially penetrating the insulation
If you must use metal, bury it under continuous insulation, stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum
Advocate strongly for ongoing monitoring – RESET
What was the intended or actual impact of the project on its users or the surrounding community?
Major investment in downtown Kane
Renovated a blighted building
Affirmed the value of the town
Provides access to the neighboring building’s upper floors
A source of civic pride
Multiple tours and events during design and construction
Spurred the formation of a Building Science Based STEM Children’s Museum
Local Materials: Hardwood, Sandstone Cladding, Metal Siding
Exposed local trades to Passive House Practices
Formal Passive House Training
Associated Architect achieved CPHD
General Contractor achieved CPHT