If I say the words “passive house,” you might picture a storybook cottage surrounded by lush meadows and gently rolling hills, completely off the grid somewhere in the German countryside. At least that’s what I think of (maybe because that’s where the structures that use insulation, carefully placed windows, and a few other architectural tricks to heat and cool themselves without much energy originated). But Ruth Mandl and Bobby Johnston, the husband-and-wife architects behind CO Adaptive, are here to prove that a passive house with zero energy output can be anywhere and look like anything—even a 1889 brownstone in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.
The couple found the townhouse in 2016 after six months of looking for a place to call their own and many drives through the streets of Brooklyn. “We could
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