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Building construction and subsequent operation in the United States account for almost 50% of all energy consumption and 40% of total carbon emissions. With statistics such as these, it is clear that architects have a responsibility to pursue environmentally sound principles wherever possible. Kindred Arch.Works focuses on selecting sustainable materials, employing the energy efficient solutions, including the use of geothermal systems, green roofs, and Passive House design. Virginia Kindred is a LEED accredited professional as well as a certified Passive House designer.


This certified Passive House retrofit in Park Slope has a completely new interior behind its turn-of-the-century brownstone façade. Although it was not a complete gut renovation, we were able to accommodate the installation of a continuous air barrier and insulation while keeping the house’s original staircase in place. Other historic elements such as wood doors and interior trims were removed, refurbished and reinstalled. A new ‘extensive-type’ green roof was installed on the leaving the upper roof available as a seating area.

To create the high-performance thermal enclosure, the exterior walls

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were framed out inside the house and filled with dense-packed cellulose with a vapor-intelligent membrane to hold it in place. The back wall has an additional four inches of EIFS installed over the original brick and the roof has four inches of continuous insulation installed over the top framing, with dense-packed cellulose and Intello within the framing below. A new concrete slab in the cellar was poured in order to add four inches of rigid insulation below. Windows are triple pane, with wood frames in the historic front façade and uPVC frames at the rear. The party walls were parge-coated with a high lime content mortar to fill the voids and then coated with a vapor-open but air-tight layer, completing the continuous air barrier. Final air tightness of 1.0 ach50 was achieved after extensive testing and leak fixing at various details, namely the joist pockets in the party walls.  Thanks to the high performance envelope, all heating and cooling is provided by one 2-ton multi-zone heat pump with 3 indoor air handlers and ventilation is provided by an ERV.


The climate regions in the United States range from sweltering heat to blistering cold, and everything in between. However, just a few feet below the surface of the earth, the temperature remains constant. In the winter, the ground temperature is warmer than the air above, and the opposite is true in warm weather.  Geo-thermal design takes advantage of the earth’s near constant temperature using a ground heat exchanger to exchange heat into the deep "geo- thermal wells” drilled into the ground. In the summer, the systems extract heat from a building and transfer it to the ground for cooling. In the winter, it takes natural heat from the ground and

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sends it back inside to create a warmer environment, thereby greatly reducing the energy required to provide heating or cooling.

These two projects highlight the range of possibilities for geothermal solutions. For the LEED certified library at Southampton College, a geothermal well field under a parking area was designed to provide heating and cooling not only for the new library, but for future buildings as well. The sandy soil on Long Island makes drilling this type of field an obvious solution when considering green technologies. For a Manhattan townhouse, a single well approximately 1,200 feet deep was drilled into the bedrock and delivers both heating and cooling through a radiant floor system throughout the house. In both of these projects, the need for mechanical equipment was dramatically reduced, freeing up valuable space.

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