Car horns. Jackhammers. Loud cell phone conversations. As anyone who has a home in New York City knows, living among a steady stream of noise comes with the territory. Or does it?

Passive House design is gradually changing the way New Yorkers think about noise in relation to their home. Of course, we’ve always wanted a quieter, more peaceful place to reside and never wanted to put up with too much noise around us. But…it’s New York. What are you going to do?

For one, you no longer have to settle.

A home that employs a Passive House design features airtight seals and triple-paned windows, which often does wonders for consistent and comfortable air quality. However, it doesn’t take long for city dwellers to discover another invaluable advantage of this design – an amazing level of noise reduction.

Imagine that. An energy-efficient home in the heart of New York City that’s actually quiet, despite all of the potential noise from the outside world!

Throughout many of the Passive House designs we’ve done at Brace, we’ve found the beauty of our approach is that it results in a true win-win for the homeowner: In the process of designing for a more eco-friendly space, we’re also designing for noise reduction. That’s because the elements of Passive House design, including its thicker windows and ample insulation, contributes directly to cutting down on noise penetration. There’s also no central air that’s getting turned off and on, so the ambient noise is reduced.

By the way, consider that this significant noise reduction is happening long before we’re even adding a large amount of other materials to the home that might further reduce noise levels.

Construction Clatter? Traffic Noises? You Wouldn’t Even Know.

Recently, NK Architects, an architecture firm with offices in Seattle and Pittsburgh, asked the acoustic engineers at SSA Acoustics to evaluate how extensive the noise reduction in Passive House buildings truly is. The firm compared two versions of an exterior wall in a typical multi-family unit: One using conventional construction and double-paned windows while the other employed Passive House’s signature thickness, insulation, airtightness and triple-paned glazing.

The result? The Passive House building reduced noise penetration by approximately 10 decibels, which is equivalent to being 50% quieter than the conventional building! At that level, there’s just no mistaking the clear difference in noise levels between the Passive House and a traditional home. So, in the course of designing for a home for the environment, we’re also designing for sound.

In fact, check out this demonstration of noise reduction within a Passive House. Wait until the narrator on the video closes the window. You won’t believe how much Passive House design locks out all noise from outside machinery as a turnaround driveway is being constructed.

When you approach Brace about Passive House design, we’ll talk about some of the sources of noise you’ve experienced to get an understanding of the local environment you’re living in. It’s only going to help as we design a space that you view from an entirely new perspective – one that’s pleasing to the senses, from your view to the quality of the air you breathe in to blocking out the noise of the outside so you can focus on only the people you care about within. That’s the balance and enlightenment of living in a Passive House. Discover more about it can apply to your own world with a conversation with Brace at 212.457.9796.