Passive Housing Techniques Increase Efficiency and Reduce GHG Emissions in NYC Buildings

Article: Sendero Verde, country’s largest Passive House project, tops out construction on phase one, by City Realty Staff


Article: East Harlem’s affordable Sendero Verde project to get 37-story mixed-use building, by Ameena Walker

Post by Joshua Herrig, jlh2208

Sustainability Problem: Many, if not most buildings, are energy inefficient and are big greenhouse gas emitters. In New York City, buildings account for 47% of all GHG emissions. Another problem is that this technique costs more upfront, usually making it inaccessible and unaffordable.

Solution: Passive Housing techniques are being built into new buildings and retrofitted into old ones to make them, in some cases, 90 percent more energy efficient. One such apartment complex is being built in East Harlem called Sendero Verde. Sendero Verde is also affordable housing and is making this technique affordable and accessible.

Passive Housing must use 5 principles: 1. High quality insulation 2. Heat control and robust windows (often triple planed glass) 3. Airtight construction 4. Heat recovery ventilation 5. Thermal bridge-free design. The whole system is succinctly explained in this video: Passive House Explained in 90 Seconds.

This technique, once implemented, is cost efficient to the point where some buildings can be heated by the sun alone and reduces the heating bill to almost zero. As more and more buildings in NYC become electrified they will also need to retrofit their buildings unless the tenants will have to start paying higher heating costs. As of now, most NYC buildings run off of oil heaters which are terrible GHG emitters and polluters but building owners pay for it, not the tenants.

Which is why Sendero Verde is such an appealing project. The vision of the project is to build a “Community of Opportunity.” and will have very affordable heating and cooling bills for its tenants. The poor in New York City must often choose between paying their heating bill and paying for groceries and they often choose groceries. Passive housing techniques will significantly lower bills allowing them to not have to make that decision.

Stakeholders: 1. New York City government. 2. Architects 3. Construction and building managers 4. Tenants of the building 5. Citizens of New York

Implementation of this technology: 1. Teaching architects, builders, city planners of the Passive Housing techniques 2. Change of policy requirement (passive housing will work nicely with Local Law 97, which is requiring buildings to greatly reduce their GHG emissions. 3. Building and retrofitting buildings with passive housing techniques


Indian firm makes carbon capture breakthrough

1) Sustainability Problem:

Excess CO2 contributing to a greenhouse effect and global warming.
Category: Energy

2) Technology Summary:

  • A coal-fired power plant in southern India can now capturing carbon at industrial scale without subsidy
  • Unlike the well known CCS process, the plant is converting captured storage into baking soda. This is known as Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU)
  • CarbonClean, the inventor, has developed a new, more efficient chemical process which reduces operations and initial fixed costs
  • CO2 capture capacity: 60,000 tons of CO2 per year
Article: Indian firm makes carbon capture breakthrough
Website: The Guardian
Tags: #CCS #CCU #technology #GHG

3) Organizational stakeholders

  1. Merchant power generators
  2. Utilities
  3. Chemical process raw material manufacturers
  4. Energy regulators

4) Steps in deploying this technology

  1. Identify wider customer base for CO2 chemical raw material
  2. Identify price at which CO2 can be profitably removed
  3. Attracting financing for this technology
  4. Expand production of the new CO2-stripping chemical
Uni: jz2805

Algae Scampi

NWF+shrimpProblem: Carbon emissions
People love to eat shrimp, but some estimates place their carbon impact as higher than even beef, mostly due to the destruction of natural habitats near shrimp farms.

Technology: Algae Shrimp

  • New Wave Foods has developed a highly realistic synthetic shrimp that is made out of algae, which is ubiquitous and solidly occupies a bottom rung on the food chain.
  • Algae needs only sunlight, water and CO2 to grow. In contrast shrimp are fed wild-caught fish. Producing 1 pound of shrimp is estimated to use up three pounds of fish.
  • Algae uses CO2 to perform photosynthesis, serving to convert carbon into useable, sequestered energy (food calories).
  • Scientists analyzed and mimicked the molecular structure of shrimp flesh in order to create a realistic substitute out of red algae.
  • The shrimp industry globally utilizes a lot of slave labor, particularly for removing the shells and appendages. Algae shrimp does not require anything preening, which could eliminate the worst labor practices.

Early adopters including Google’s cafeteria
New Wave Foods

Steps to implementation:
1) Run pilot at Google cafeteria.
2) Perform sustainability analysis of algae farms and production plants.
3) Develop campaign to fight misconceptions of algae as food.

Google’s Famous Kitchens May Serve Fake Shrimp Made of Algae

The Sharing Economy 2.0

Sustainability Problem

  • Substantial waste is created by our consumer society; capitalistic economy is founded on the unrestrained sale of goods and services to the buying public for continuous growth.
  • A majority of goods are intended for limited use and are frequently discarded prior to their lifespan; clothes are often discarded after one wearing.
  • Most of this waste is sent to refuse centers—ending in landfill—or sent to developing nations that have limited ability to manage the tsunami of products dropped on their shores.
  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans generated 254 million tons of solid waste in 2013; the waste leads in increase greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Developed Nations produce and buy more than we need, which drives the economy of developing and emerging markets.

Summary of Seoul Sharing City Executive Summary 2015

  • Seoul Metropolitan Management (SGM) has designated and supported 57 sharing organizations and businesses, and will promote 300 additional businesses, into their Sharing City initiative.
  • 5M Won ($4K) per company has been dedicated to sharing business strategy within Seoul, and 3.5M Won ($3K) for surrounding areas. Car sharing alone accounts for 400,000 members.
  • Sharing City includes 2,000 parking spots in 7 districts, 8,000,000 articles of children’s clothing, 230  daycare centers, a reduction of single-person households, and other businesses that might target the emerging Korean middle class.
  • Since implementation in 2014, Seoul has saved 12 Billion won annually, created 1,280 jobs, and reduced almost 30 thousand tons of CO2 emissions by reducing landfill.
  • Locally developed application allows Koreans to share products and services to reduce the overall footprint/cost of the population.


  • City Dwellers
  • Manufacturers
  • Retailers
  • Commercial industry


  • Continued adoption of crowd-sharing services will reduce car production through ride-sharing, Uber, Lyft), parking spots, children’s clothing, and material goods (local application of shared services).
  • Many applications have been launched successfully in Korea and have spread globally with reduced engagement. Additional resources will need to be provided to upsell shared services to the US and European markets.


New technology removes air pollutants, may reduce energy use in animal agricultural facilities

Sustainability Problem:

The increase in pollution has increased the need to produce food to sustain this growth. Growing livestock produces high levels of ammonia concentration in the barns. This has a negative impact on the quality of the air in the vicinity of the farm.


  1. Ammonia polluted air enters the biofilter.
  2. There is also a heat exchanger that captures some of the heat and transfers it back into the barn along with fresh air.
  3. The prototype has been proven successful in a farm with 5,000 chickens.


  • Farmers
  • People living around farm land

Steps for deployment:

  • Start by deploying technology is farms with more than 5,000 chickens
  • Approach national brands, because they have resources to implement technology


Hand Tree: Personal air purifier

The problem

Global greenhouse gas emissions are leading the world to a temperature increase between 2ºC and 4ºC, which could cause an environmental collapse in our planet. Moreover, the air is being polluted by toxic emissions from cities and industries.

The technology

The Hand Tree is a wristband that offsets your carbon footprint. It purifies the air around you, turning CO2 equivalents, other pollutants and even dust into oxygen. In other words, this bracelet works like a plant in your arm.


The stakeholders

  • User
  • Environmentalists
  • Investors
  • Retailers


The Hand Tree was designed by Alexandr Kostin for the Electrolux Design Lab competition, were students were challenged to create a technology to address the issue of global pollution.


Can Cultured Meat Save the World?

Sustainability Problem

  • Animal husbandry is responsible for more than 14% of greenhouse gas emissions; 65% of those emissions come from raising cattle for beef and dairy.
  • Producing one kilogram of beef uses 15,000 liters of water and adds 300 kilograms of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
  • Livestock and livestock feed occupies up to 30% of the earth’s ice-free land; 1-2 acres of rainforest are clear-cut every second to raise animals; the majority of crops raised are used to feed livestock, not people.
  • 335 million tons of animal waste is generated annually in the US alone. Animal waste is one of the main contributors to water pollution and of dead-zones in rivers and oceans.
  • The world’s population is projected to grow to 9.5 billion by 2060; the global diet has shifted to include more animal protein.

Description of Synthetic or Cultured Meat

  • Although fake meat has been around for decades, it has never successfully entered the market because many products are unpalatable and expensive. The complexity of meat, including the flavor and texture, is difficult to replicate.
  • An emerging method is to grow “animal free” meat. The process begins with the slaughter of an adult cow to extract stem cells, which is use to culture the muscle tissue, and a cow fetus to obtain a serum used to grow the tissue. The DNA from these two animals will be used to grow enough synthetic meat to replace herds of slaughtered cows.
  • Stem cells are fed into a broth consisting of around 100 synthetic nutrients combined with a serum extracted from the cow fetus. As the cells split over the course of a week they form sheets a few millimeters thick. The end result is mixed with other organic compounds, including beet juice, to simulate the texture of beef.
  • Science has not been able to recreate anything resembling steak or chicken, however a beef broth has been produced; it could help feed the world’s growing appetite for animal protein.


  • Animal farmers
  • Slaughterhouses
  • Meat replicators
  • Meat eaters
  • The environment


  • Following additional investments into R&D, “animal free” meat can be produced anywhere using significantly less resources that traditional animal husbandry.
  • The emerging industry’s goal is to create a 25,000 liter bioreactor, large enough to provide meat for up to 10,000 people per year.
  • There are two significant obstacles: the current process is prohibitively expensive and large-scale adoption of replicated meat will take a shift in culture/tastes.


Growing cement

cylinder_samples-960x525_c1. Problem: Energy

The cement industry requires massive amounts of energy and is a major carbon emitter, second only to the fossil fuel industry.


2. Technology: BioMason cement.

  • BioMason cement uses bacteria for hardening, rather than heat, cutting out the most significant energy-using and carbon-producing step in the manufacturing process.
  • The concept mimics the formation of coral reefs, wherein living organisms calcify sand and minerals, forming a very durable cement-like structure.
  • The dry materials can be shipped anywhere. All the recipient needs to do is add water and form into the desired shape. This reduces logistics costs (e.g. cement mixers, shipping).
  • Materials are all sustainably sourced.


3. Stakeholders

Construction firms.

Plant currently manufacturing the cement.

Government buildings departments.


4. Next steps to implementation

a) Meet with buildings departments to prevent unforeseen building code compliance issues.

b) Secure financing for plant expansion.

c) Identify firms seeking to reduce construction-related carbon emissions.

Hydrogen-Powered Tram

Problem: Greenhouse gas emissions

Greenhouse gas emissions are a large contributor to global warming. As the world is trying to stay under the 2 degree mark, we will need to find a way to drastically reduce our GHG emissions.


The China South Rail Corp developed the world’s first hydrogen powered tram, which just finished production in April. The tram’s only emissions will be water, it can be recharged in about 3 minutes, and has a 100km range. Not only will this tram be more environmentally friendly, but it will also reduce operation costs for the company.

See more:


  • China South Rail Corp (CSRC)
  • Engineers
  • City, regional, and national government (transportation authorities)
  • Investors


  • CSRC should negotiate with other neighboring cities to develop trams that can replace the current ‘dirty’ trains.
  • As China also pledges to formally adopt the paris climate agreement, the country could decide to implement clean transportation nationally- CSRC should negotiate with the government to be the official producer of trams for such a project.
  • Increase investment so that the CSRC can produce trams at greater scale



LightGrid: GE Partners with Oceanside, CA


  • Energy: Cities are wasting energy and money powering unnecessary or broken roadway and street lights.


  • LightGrid by GE is an outdoor wireless control system for street and road lights. The technology allows for remote operation and monitoring of all fixtures through a Web-based user interface.
  • The technology allows you to collect real time data for any light fixture or group of light fixtures.
  • In Oceanside, CA the city expects to drive energy and maintenance savings by an estimated $600,000 annually.
  • In addition, the installation of new lights is expected to reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 1.7 million pounds.


  • GE
  • Local government
  • Residents


  • Connect with cities and other municipalities to show them the benefits of installing GE LED street lights with LightGrid technology.
  • Install GE LED street lights with LightGrid technology on roads and streets, and in parks, parking lots, and other areas.
  • Monitor each light through the Web in real-time and respond to maintenance or operational needs and activate more precise “on/off” and light dimming schedules to save energy and money.