A 48-unit apartment complex in Brewer, Maine, has earned certification in the rigorous Passive House green building standard.

At more than 54,000 square feet, the Village Centre Apartments project is one the largest Passive House building in New England and the second-largest in North America. The complex, which opened in May, brought much-needed workforce housing to the greater Bangor, Maine, area. The building's energy-efficient design will mean low energy bills for residents, an important component of affordable housing, says Alyssa Parker, director of commercial project management at Wright-Ryan, the project’s construction manager.

In fact, Village Centre represents an emerging trend in affordable housing, Parker says. “The two largest Passive House projects in the country, Village Centre here in Maine and another development on the West Coast, are both affordable housing," she says. "We’re proving that through smart design and well-executed construction management radical energy efficiency such as with Passive House isn’t restricted to the realm of custom home building.”

The project team was committed to using high performing but cost effective strategies to meet its budget of roughly $139 per square foot. Wright-Ryan Construction developed cost-benefit analysis and detailed estimates to support challenging decisions between various window details, five wall section alternatives, and more than ten different HVAC options. Village Centre is estimated to be over 60% more energy efficient than a code building and is targeting a site energy use intensity of 22 kbtu/sf/yr.

The project is owned and developed by Community Housing of Maine (CHOM), and was designed by CWS Architects with sustainability consulting provided by Thornton Tomasetti. Horizon Residential Energy Services of Maine, the City of Brewer, Maine, and the City of Brewer Economic Development provided support as well.