An apartment block being built in New York is claimed to be the city's first market-rate rental building designed to Passive House standards. Perch Harlem will provide simple and community-focused urban living and will also use 80-90 percent less energy than a conventional equivalent.

Located in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Harlem, Perch will provide residents with views of the George Washington Bridge to the north and of Midtown Manhattan to the south. Perch Living says its goal is to foster a sense of community using well-thought-out communal spaces.

Among the features of the building aimed at helping to achieve its sustainability goals are 8-in (20-cm) of insulation on front and rear to reduce energy use, high performance triple-pane glazing tuned to the specific climate and solar conditions and a system that stores heat output from cooling systems in the summer to produce hot water. The apartments are also compartmentalized to minimize air movement.

Each apartment will have its own central heating and cooling system, as well as an energy-recovery ventilator, allowing occupants to adjust the temperature and fresh airflow as desired. It will also be possible for residents to manage ventilation by opening small windows, while larger, fixed windows will help to bring natural light and warmth into the units.

These features will help to ensure that the building's energy use is only an estimated 9.57 kWh/sq ft (103 kWh/sq m) every year. This is well within the 11.15 kWh/sq ft (120 KWh/sq m) allowance for Passive House certification. In addition, a blower test, which measures the number of times in an hour that indoor air is replaced at pressure, recorded 0.6 at 50 Pa, which also meets Passive House requirements.

The 40,000 sq ft (3,716 sq m), seven-story building will have a façade of glass squares and rectangular shapes and will house 34 one- and two-bed units. The apartments will each have interiors designed by Me and General Design, featuring reclaimed wood floors and natural material wall coverings, floor coverings and furniture.

Perch says that the apartments will be sound- and smell-resistant, so as to ensure peaceful and private living for residents. Smart technology will provide some level of home automation, while residents will be able to benefit from discounted delivery services provided by partner companies. Other amenities will include a private gym, a rooftop terrace, storage, car and bicycle parking, a residents' lounge and a virtual doorman, a means of providing concierge services (often contracted) via an online portal.

Perch Harlem will be the first Perch Living location in the US, with another planned for Brooklyn. The Harlem location has topped out and is expected to be completed by May. Passive House US and Passive House Institute certification are being sought.

Sources: Perch, Synapse Development Group, Me and General Design