Passive House Round up

Posted by nk on April 28, 2016

The delight and livability of Passive House is in the spotlight this month with projects from the U.S. to Central Africa making news. In particular, the Financial Times discusses how implementing the building standard can turn the tables on climate change not only reducing energy dependence but creating cooler, more comfortable living environments reducing the need for air conditioning as temperatures rise. Read this and other our choices  top Passive House stories on the web this month.

Financial Times: Divine Insulation: Passivehaus Architecture

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The planned shared Dutch and Belgian embassy in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Image credit: A2M Architects

 “The combination of a world that is warming up and a population that wants to cool down poses an architectural quandary: how to design buildings that can maintain a comfortable temperature without consuming quantities of energy that contribute to further climate change.”

Sunset Magazine: Top 6 benefits of A Passive House

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San Francisco Passive House. Image credit: Sunset Magazine

“Since a passive home has a killer ventilation system, it filters out pollen quickly—a major bonus for anyone with allergies. The airtight building also lets far less dust in (and filters out what ends up in the air), meaning less time spent cleaning.”

New York Times: The Passive House in New York City

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A Passive House retrofit in Brooklyn, NY. Image credit: New York Times

“…With the cost of meeting passive-construction standards apparently dropping, Passive House proponents see a role for the standards in the creation of affordable and low-income housing.”

Follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for more Passive House news.

National Architecture Week

Posted by nk on April 14, 2016

It’s National Architecture Week and we have plenty to celebrate, including a showcase of Passive House designed projects across the region in this year’s Passive House Northwest book. We’re happy to be featured with our two award-winning Passive House projects: Park Passive, Seattle’s first certified Passive House, and View Haus 5, the city’s first certified Passive House townhome. These projects, along with others, including the acclaimed Orchards at Orenco, North America’s largest affordable Passive House by William Wilson and Ankrom Moisan Architects, demonstrate the industry-leading direction of Passive House in the Northwest.

See a few of the region’s on-the-boards projects in the book, and click here to read about Hudson, one of Seattle’s first multi-family Passive House projects.

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Hudson in Columbia City, designed by NK Architects

Follow us on LinkedIn to for more Passive House news from NK.

Smith & Burns Completed in Wallingford

Posted by nk on April 11, 2016

The recently completed Smith & Burns, a 150-unit urban mixed-use project in the Wallingford neighborhood pays homage to Seattle’s traditional character while connecting to the city’s new modern aesthetic with site-salvaged brick and wood finishes, bright commercial spaces, and vibrant public art displays.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Leitz

Clad in high-quality, durable materials with contextual massing, NK’s design responds to three unique streetscapes, seamlessly transitioning from commercial to residential districts.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Leitz

Developed by Mack Urban, the project is comprised of open studios, 1-bedrooms, and 2-bedrooms designed for young urban professionals who value walkability and sustainability. Pending LEED Silver certification, Smith & Burns was constructed using low-emitting building materials and finishes, high-efficiency plumbing fixtures, reclaimed barn wood, and sustainable carpeting. Other features include a 138-bike storage area, electric vehicle charging stations, and an easy walk to neighborhood cafes, shopping, and transit.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Leitz

Residents enjoy deluxe amenities with a library, fitness center, and hobby room, equipped with creative supplies, work tables, and a demonstration kitchen.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Leitz

Outdoor spaces abound, Smith & Burns offers a central courtyard, private patios for select units, and a large rooftop deck with entertainment spaces and dedicated hops gardens.

Follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for more NK news.


Passive House Insights

Posted by nk on March 31, 2016

This month our team attended the PHnw7 conference in Portland where we garnered great insight into national trends and industry themes.

Notably, principal Joe Giampietro, and founder of Cascade Built, Sloan Ritchie, detailed the design and goals of Zero Hudson, one of Seattle’s first Passive House-constructed, net-zero mixed-use apartment projects. View the presentation here.

Zero Hudson
Zero Hudson, a multi-family Passive House project designed by NK Architects 

We were also inspired by Zack Semke’s, of Hammer & Hand, thought-provoking discussion on “Debunking the Jevons Paradox.”

The Jevons Paradox, built on the coal explosion of the 1800’s, says energy efficiency leads to more use of energy not less. Various climate denial thinkers have vigorously adopted this theory. Zack presented the counter argument in clear, humorous and undeniable examples that the average rebound is only 20%, making energy efficiency 80% effective.

Zack also walked us though the “Black Swan” events theory of unexpected change, one we are now seeing with renewable energy production and the drop in energy prices. The result of this unforeseen combination is that 75% of fossil fuels are becoming “Stranded Assets.” They have no profitable way of being extracted and processed when a barrel of oil is $50 or less.

The takeaway? “The times they are a changing,” and simple Passive House design strategies are here to lead the way.

Additionally, Passive House incentives were widely discussed, specifically those in the Northeast making affordable housing projects even more cost-efficient. See this contribution from our CEO, Tim Weyand detailing how Seattle can follow suit.

And we were excited to learn about multi-family Passive House projects popping up across the country with these new developments under construction.

Next month NK’s Founding Principal, Brandon Nicholson; CEO, Tim Weyand, and Joe Giampietro will be traveling to the 20th International Passive House Conference in Darmstadt, Germany. Check back for their takeaways.

Follow us on LinkedIn for more Passive House insights.

Featured Projects from PHnw7

Posted by nk on March 16, 2016

This year’s Passive House Northwest conference, PHnw7, highlighted how developers are successfully applying high-performance Passive House design strategies to multifamily projects of all sizes. Of note, Kansas City’s groundbreaking 276-unit multifamily mixed-use project has garnered the attention of high profile real estate investors, serving as a needed example of Passive House feasibility in the U.S.

Second and Delaware Residences

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Kansas City’s Second and Delaware Residents developed by Arnold Development Group

NK’s Passive House expert, Joe Giampietro, and founder of Cascade Built, Sloan Ritchie, shared insights on Zero Hudson, a 37-unit apartment project in Columbia City – slated to be one of Seattle’s first Passive House-constructed net-zero-ready multifamily projects. The presentation demonstrated how developers can build a financially successful high-performance market rate apartment project in one of the nation’s hottest multifamily real estate climates.

Zero Hudson

Zero Hudson

Cascade Built’s Zero Hudson apartment project designed by NK Architects

Two additional inspiring projects featured at this year’s conference included Cornell Tech Student Housing and Orchards at Orenco.

Cornell Tech Student Housing
 Cornell Tech

Cornell Tech 350-unit Passive House student housing in New York City designed by Handel Architects

Orchards at Orenco

Orchards at Orenco

A 57-unit Passive House apartment project in Hillsboro, OR designed by Ankrom Moisan Architects

Follow us on LinkedIn for more thoughts on PHnw7.

Passive House in the News

Posted by nk on February 29, 2016

Passive House design is gaining worldwide attention, especially here in the U.S. We’re rounding up the top Passive House stories on the web; here are our choices for February.

Photo by Aaron Leitz Photography

Ireland’s Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County now requires all new homes to meet the rigorous Passive House design standards – Gizmag featured our Park Passive project for its exemplary design and efficiency.

Greenpoint Passive House via Curbed New York

New York City is experiencing a Passive House boom with over 20 projects in the works. Curbed New York featured this 4-story apartment project in the city’s Greenpoint neighborhood.

Image courtesy of Kansas City Star

Kansas City’s first Passive House-constructed multi-family apartment project is under way. The 276-unit River Market development will provide a mix of market-rate and affordable housing.


Don’t forget to register for the annual Passive House Northwest conference, PHnw7,  taking place in Portland March 10th & 11th.  Our own Joe Giampietro, and founder of Cascade Built, Sloan Ritchie, will share insights during a presentation on Zero Hudson, one of Seattle’s first Passive House-constructed net zero ready apartment projects. Register today and plan to attend the session on March 11th.

Do you have something to add? Follow us on LinkedIn and share a comment.

Join us at PHnw7 March 10th & 11th

Posted by nk on February 25, 2016

In a hot multifamily real estate market, do you know how to build a financially successful zero energy project? You too can make Passive House Pencil. Join us at this year’s Passive House NW conference in Portland to gain insights from NK’s Passive House expert, Joe Giampietro, and founder of Cascade Built, Sloan Ritchie, during a presentation on Zero Hudson, one of Seattle’s first Passive House-constructed net zero ready apartment projects. Register today and plan to attend the session on March 11th. Together we can make net zero the new normal.

What: PHnw7
When: March 10th & 11th
Where: Ambridge Event Center, Portland

PHnw image grouping


Design Begins on Northgate Townhome Project

Posted by nk on February 12, 2016

NK’s design for a new urban townhome project on Roosevelt Way NE will promote walkability and enhance the streetscape with bright ground-floor commercial spaces. Developed by Noren Development, the 42,904 sf Built Green 4-star project will have twenty 3-bedroom units including 7 live/work and 13 townhomes with private rooftop terraces and access to a landscaped interior courtyard. The project’s elevated podium design reduces construction costs while providing at-grade parking for each unit and creating privacy for the upper floors. The project will be just a mile from a future light rail station, dining and shopping.

Construction is scheduled to begin fall 2016. Visit us on LinkedIn for more project updates.


NK’s Team Grows with Four New Staff

Posted by nk on January 28, 2016

We are excited to welcome Leon Holloway, Project Manager; Emily Evenson, Project Architect; Alex Gallagos, Staff Architect, and Chris Anderson, Intern, to our team!

Leon Holloway brings 10+ years of multifamily and institutional project experience. He is passionate about applying his expertise in building code to shape the city’s future environmental landscape with durable cost-efficient high-performance projects. Leon is the President of the NOMA NW and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity.


Emily Evenson joined NK with five years of architecture and historic preservation experience. The breadth of her work has focused on mid-rise mixed-use residential projects, including the award-winning 12th Avenue Arts building in Capitol Hill. Her primary interests involve creating healthy living environments and preserving distinct urban neighborhood character.


Alex Gallagos joined NK to design living environments that achieve the highest sustainable standards for occupant health and comfort. His expertise includes both architecture and interior design for multifamily residential, retail, and hospitality projects. In his free time he designed and is constructing an off-the-grid tiny house from salvaged materials near the Olympic National Forest.

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Chris Anderson supports NK’s project managers, staff and project architects with graphic design and project research. She is working towards a degree in architecture with a particular interest in Passive House design. In her spare time, Chris enjoys printmaking, snowboarding, and home remodeling.

Chris Anderson

Get to know the rest of our team on our People page.

Stream Fifteen Completed in Capitol Hill

Posted by nk on January 20, 2016

The recently completed Stream Fifteen is a welcomed addition to North Capitol Hill. The 34-unit apartment project achieves the difficult transition from commercial district to residential zones by using varying materials, modulation, color and bold massing elements.

Echoing the commercial district’s feel, NK’s design integrates dominant brick masonry, a vibrant two-story projecting bay, and a 3,400 sf continuous storefront commercial base anchoring the corner of 15th and Mercer. Contrasting materials, balconies, color and smaller scale massing offset the building’s upper residential floors.

Photo courtesy of Derek Reeves

Developed by Stream Real Estate LLC, units span well-equipped studios to 1-and-2-bedroom apartments. Residents have access to a 23-space below-grade parking garage, private outdoor spaces and a common rooftop deck with views.

Photo courtesy of Derek Reeves

Centrally located, Stream Fifteen features a Walk Score of 91. Pending LEED GOLD certification, sustainable features include energy efficient appliances and lighting fixtures, and no-VOC paints, adhesives and carpets.