Delegation of the European Union 
to the United States

Ice Box Challenge Brings a Different Kind of Cool to D.C. by Demonstrating the Benefits of Passive Buildings

09/07/2018 - 16:27
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With temperatures hovering around 100 degrees in Washington, D.C., staying cool is not easy. But taking the Ice Box Challenge in Farragut Square, N.W. from July 7 – 20 may provide you with the solution. This unique public science experiment demonstrates the efficiency of buildings constructed to Passive House standards – and shows just how much cooler a highly energy-efficient building can be.

Over the weekend, two small structures were placed on Farragut Square with 1,800 pounds of ice each. One structure is built to the 2015 International Building Code, the other to the highly energy-efficient Passive House standard. We invite people to drop by to see the colorful houses and take the Ice Box Challenge by guessing how much ice will be left in each of these houses at the big reveal on July 20th at 12:30 pm. Prizes will be awarded for the closest guesses.

The Ice Boxes’ original design by Stark Architecture was inspired by The Lions peaks in Vancouver, Canada. The Washington, D.C., edition of the Ice Box Challenge is presented by the European Union in partnership with the Embassy of Belgium, with dedicated support and sponsorship led by Nicholson Kovalchick (NK) Architects. Other partners include the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District and the Office of the Secretary of Washington, D.C., in conjunction with their Sister City program with Brussels, and the District Department of Energy and the Environment.

"We're already seeing the benefits of new energy efficiency measures in the European Union with lower energy bills, more comfortable dwellings, and new jobs," said EU Ambassador to the United States David O'Sullivan. "Ensuring sustainability is in our DNA as citizens of the European Union, but it is also our duty as residents of the city of Washington and as advocates for a clean planet to promote environmentally conscious solutions in every way we can."

In Washington, D.C. – as is the case with most U.S. cities - commercial and residential buildings account for the majority of the city's greenhouse gas emissions. With heating and cooling being a leading contributor to CO2 emissions, adopting the hyper-efficient Passive House standard is a practical step we can take to protect our shared environment.

“This project demonstrates, in a fun way, how sustainable practices can make a difference. In the Golden Triangle, millions of square feet have been redeveloped in the last few years, with a big push toward green building practices,” said Leona Agouridis, Executive Director of the Golden Triangle BID.

Noting that more and more people around the world have discovered the health and planetary benefits of Passive House buildings, Brandon Nicholson, President of Passive House Western Pennsylvania and founding principal of NK Architects, said, "because Passive House provides a cost-effective way to create better buildings, these buildings have the potential to transform the market."

Passive House buildings use up to 90% less energy for heating and cooling than other structures. To meet the standard, the Passive House Ice Box is generously insulated with Rockwool mineral wool, air sealed with high performance SIGA tapes, and glazed with triple-pane Cascadia windows.

In 2015, Brussels, Belgium - headquarters of the European Union - became the first city in the world to require the Passive House standard for all new major renovation and construction, producing more than 15 million square feet of Passive House buildings.  The adoption led to an impressive 15% reduction in energy consumption and 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in Brussels. "This showcases the environmental benefits high performing building standards can have while at the same time promoting economic opportunity and well-being" said Belgian Ambassador to the United States, Dirk Wouters.

To learn more about the many benefits of Passive House buildings and how to enter the Ice Box Challenge, please visit:

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