In the fair — and recently finished — borough of Brooklyn, it appears that the aggressive onslaught of homes being both erected and retrofitted (mostly the latter) to meet the holy grail of green building-dom has reached a pinnacle of sorts: a recently completed, Marty Markowitz-approved passive house project dubbed Haus 96 is now apparently the first multi-family passive house project — four passive condos, to be exact — to hit the open market in the United States.
Unlike a certain LEED Silver-seeking arena up the road that’s due to officially open in a couple of days with a series of sold-out Jay-Z concerts, Haus 96 doesn’t stick out like a rusty, rubberneck-inducing sore thumb. Located in the leafy Prospect Heights nabe, from the outside you wouldn’t be able to tell that the unassuming four-story building has been gut-renovated to achieve stringent Passive House EnerPHit standards that will allow it to consume 60 to 70 less energy and 90 percent less heat than similar buildings. The building's exceptional energy performance is due in part to high levels of densely packed cellulose insulation, plastic sheeting, complex ventilation/heat recovery systems, and $60,000 worth of high-performance, triple-pane windows imported from Europe (a blessing considering the building's proximity to crazy-noisy Flatbush Ave.) Despite its airtight nature, Kim Velsey of The Observer points out that 96 St. Marks Ave., is “just another redbrick townhouse on a street chock-a-block with redbrick townhouses in a borough crammed with townhouse-lined streets."
Brendan Aguayo, a first-time developer and passive house-r who is brokering the four units himself, bought the pre-war building back in 2011 for $1 million and spent the last year working alongside seasoned passive house vet, architect Ken Levenson, retrofitting it. Explains Levenson on the Haus 96 website: "This isn’t a trend or a fashion. Passive Houses will become the new standard. People in Europe are already on board, so it makes sense that New York is next.”
The prices for the four units at Haus 96 are as follows: $1.4 million for a three-bedroom, 1,429-square-foot duplex with two full baths and $829,000 for the three, 833-square-foot units on the top three floors with two bedrooms apiece. The three-bedroom garden unit boasts a private patio while the other units share a rooftop terrace with city views. All units come with Restoration Hardware lighting fixtures, recessed hi-efficiency lighting, Bosch dishwashers and washer/dryers, energy monitoring systems, Toto dual-flush toilets, mini-split HVAC systems, Carrara marble floors in the bathrooms, and plenty of other high-end bells and whistles. Each unit also has a beautiful faux fireplace. “I liked the idea of it — something different to look at,” Aguayo tells the Observer. “I guess we’re letting them know that they never need to use a fireplace.”
And in the event that the residents of Haus 96 feel like decamping from their thermos-esque "boutique condos," I should mention that the building is in a primo location that’s just blocks away from two different subway stations and the restaurant-, bar-, and boutique-heavy Vanderbilt Ave. Prospect Park and Grand Army Plaza aren't too far off either. (The building's Walk Score is a near-perfect 98). And since the residents of Haus 96 will be paying next to nothing on monthly energy bills, they should have a bit of cash left over that will enable them to spend some QT with their new neighbors down the street: Barbara S., Justin B., and the stars of Disney on Ice.