Passive House Design and Quality Living

Located in Corona, New York, the HANAC Corona Seniors Residence is one of the first affordable senior housing development in the United States to meet the Passive House Institute design standards. Designed by Think! Architecture + Design and constructed by Bruno Frustaci Contracting Inc., the eight-story, $27-million building spans 57,675 sq. ft.  It houses 68 affordable units geared to low-income seniors on floors two through eight, while the first floor serves the community as a 5,000-sq. ft. early childhood education facility.  The residence’s intergenerational community model promotes social engagement and learning opportunities through structured and unstructured programming, as well as the use of open and inviting spaces designed for maximum benefit of those who live, work and visit the mixed-use facility.  As such, the development includes a shared rear yard with a vegetable garden, seating and tables for residents and a children’s natural play area.  A seniors-only open space is located on the fifth floor terrace, accessible through a community room.    

The goal: Ground-breaking sustainable design                    

Efficiency, sustainability and occupant wellness were primary considerations for the building’s design. Earning Passive House certification was a key objective for the project, with the goal of achieving 75 per cent energy savings compared to traditional construction.  The desire was to create an efficient, safe and comfortable space to provide opportunities for connection and increased quality of life, while contributing to New York City’s climate action and sustainability targets.

The Challenge 

First and foremost, and in keeping with the Passive House strategy, the design team zeroed in on the building envelope in an effort to minimize air leakage and heat loss and promote efficiency.  Comfort and safety were integral considerations, given the potential vulnerability of the occupants. 

The Solution

Beneath the ventilated façade of the HANAC Corona Seniors Residence is the building’s continuous exterior insulation, ROCKWOOL Comfortboard™ 110 stone wool rigid board insulation.  The product was chosen to optimize energy performance because of its high effective R-value that remains stable over time and the need for minimal penetrations and thermal bridges.  Comfortboard™ 110 also contributes to a more stable indoor environment, along with ROCKWOOL Comfortbatt® and AFB® which were installed throughout the building’s exterior cavity walls and partition walls respectively.  Creating a well-insulated building was not only an important Passive House measure, but it was also an essential consideration given the building’s occupants—largely seniors and young children.  Designers were sensitive to the vulnerability of the end users, and thus, the decision to use noncombustible stone wool insulation supported a variety of other key objectives including passive fire protection (ROCKWOOL achieves this without the need for added chemical flame retardants), sound attenuation, and indoor air quality—all expected to impact the wellbeing of those who use the space.  The role of the ROCKWOOL Building Science Team was also a factor, as they conducted comprehensive 3-dimensional thermal modelling  that ultimately supported the specification of ROCKWOOL insulation into the HANAC Corona project.  ROCKWOOL stone wool insulation also helps achieve better building resiliency and complements the building’s sustainability profile.  Passive House construction epitomizes sustainable design, aiming to minimize adverse environmental impacts and reduce the energy consumption of a building, while contributing to the health and productivity of its occupants—a definition that could easily be applied to ROCKWOOL products themselves.  ROCKWOOL stone wool insulation products are made from natural and abundant raw materials and recycled content in a highly sustainable manufacturing process.  The performance advantages and sustainable nature of ROCKWOOL products were considerable reasons that they were incorporated into the HANAC Corona Senior’s residence and continue to be a best-in-class solution for the growing Passive House Movement in New York City

HANAC Corona Seniors Residence

54-17 101st St.,
Corona, NY