Keating Passive House in Massachusetts

Living in a Passive House

Recently, members of the studioTROIKA team attended a lecture organized by Passive House Massachusetts at the Boston Society of Architects Space. The lecture was given by Hank Keating, architect and owner of his very own passive house. Mr. Keating and his wife moved into their passive house about a year ago, after years of planning and 18 months of construction. What they have experienced is “…beyond [their] dreams.” The house is quiet, consistently comfortable, bright, and holds ambient warmth that creates a calming space throughout the year.

The house is quiet, consistently comfortable, bright, and holds ambient warmth that creates a calming space throughout the year.

“Passive house design” boasts several inspiring features in the planning and construction world. Unparalleled comfort is provided with thick wall systems that are super-insulated and airtight. ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilators) provide a constant supply of fresh air to promote a healthy and balanced indoor air quality.

The Keating Passive House also sports a solar array that provides the home more than enough electricity throughout the year, feeding the excess into the grid. During his lecture, Mr. Keating spoke several times about the windows and the beauty of the south facing glass, clearly thrilled with the effect that light and solar heat have on his home. The deep wall section also allowed the incorporation of window seats so that occupants can enjoy the warmth of the sun throughout the year. Best of all, perhaps, is that the Keating household never turned on their Mitsubishi Mini-Split heating system all winter last year! The house regulated itself by retaining heat during the day and holding it throughout the night.

The Keating household never turned on their heating system all winter!

While passive design principles were initiated in North America in the 1970s, the German Passivhaus Institut expanded on this research in the 1980s. Over the past several years, the Passive House Institute US has committed to developing performance standards for the diverse climate zones of North America. As these strategies become more mainstream, the desire for Passive House designation becomes increasingly popular in the design / build industry.

The studtioTROIKA team is working to integrate Passive House principles on larger scale projects throughout the Greater Boston Area. The clients of a recently acquired mixed-use project have already expressed interest in designing their building to Passive House standards. TROIKA is excited at the prospect of this rewarding and challenging design experience. However, the major question remains across the industry of how to market Passive House as a beneficial strategy for design in today’s world. The true benefits lie, as Hank Keating attests, in a vastly improved quality of life and a deep comfort rooted in this thoughtful and integrated design strategy.

– Contributed by Shannon Sickler of studioTROIKA

Happy Holidays from Studio Troika!

Wishing you all a happy holiday season and a happy new year!

We had a wonderful time celebrating the season with our clients and friends in the industry. Studio Troika kicked off the start of the holiday season at JCAs 20th year anniversary event in style at the excellent Royale Nightclub venue in Boston’s hopping theater district. A special thanks goes out to JCA for inviting us to multiple events this year. We so greatly appreciate their teams hard work in the industry and look forward to the coming year.

We were ecstatic to join in the festivities at Royale’s iconic dance space with live music and delicious food. It was a fantastic way to start the festivities of the season, seeing familiar faces and some new. Thanks again to JCA for a fabulous night!

As the holiday season continues into the New Year, we enjoyed our own office events at studioTROIKA, including our traditional Gingerbread House competition and Yankee Swap. This year we cranked up the festive with some particularly ugly sweaters. Our fairytale gingerbread competition surpassed last year’s in both scale and team effort with three awesome detailed works of art including the Little Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe, Cinderella’s castle and Rapunzel’s tower. A special thanks to David Cassady for coming to the gingerbread competition, our team always appreciates his support.

As this year comes to a close we want to say a special thanks to all the enthusiastic and hardworking teams that we have participated with on projects and wish everyone a very happy new year!­­­

-Contributed by Hal Becker of studioTROIKA

Harley Davidson Boston's roof: From Rocks to Solar Power

From Rocks to Solar Power

Harley Davidson gets its sun on.

While we were in the process of transforming the old Johnny’s Foodmaster into the new Harley Davidson of Boston, our engineer informed us that we needed to put ballast (rocks) back on top of our brand new rubber roof. On older rubber roofs, gravel used to be employed as ballast to weight the roof to keep it held down to the deck, but it’s unusual to use it on a newer roof.

In 2014, we had a tough time finding this to be an acceptable response. We asked Harley if they would be interested in putting solar ‘ballast” on the roof and they immediately agreed. Harley Davidson is an incredibly environmentally sensitive company.

The roof’s solar system has already generated over 700MW of power.

We partnered with SunBug Solar out of Somerville and placed 920 Sunpower 327’s on the roof, creating a 245,000KW system. To date this system has generated over 700MW of power in just 2 years of operation.

Much better than rocks.

– Contributed by Michael Samra, studioTROIKA principal.