A Milestone for Engine 16


We're excited to share that Engine 16 recently passed its final blower door test. This was a huge step for the project, which is seeking passive house certification from the Passive House Institute.

But what is a blower door test?

A blower door is literally a temporary door with a fan that can blow air in or remove air from a building. This allows you to measure how leaky the building is (or isn't). We often use the blower door throughout the construction process and before finishes are installed, so that we can handle any leaks and prevent working backwards. The final blower door test is an important step in the certification process. It can also identify what would otherwise become issues later. All of this lengthens the life of the building.

Constructing a certified passive house is an important way to create a truly healthy home. Like a high-quality runner's jacket, a passive house is vapor-open, creating a sealed but comfortable indoor environment. Once you have a sealed envelope, you can introduce filtered, fresh air 24/7 through an ERV. Instead of air entering your home through cracks and crevices, you can be confident that your inside air is clean and filtered.

We are thankful to be working with the R. Sutton team and bldgtyp Passive House Consultants, and are incredibly happy to have Kevin Brennan, who implemented the air sealing on this project. The support of such an amazing team allowed us to focus on creating interesting spaces, which included reusing most of the historic elements of the firehouse.

As Luke Delaney of R. Sutton noted, "when the end of a project like this approaches, and the final blower door test is being set up… it's good to take the time to reflect on all the hard work put in by everyone to get to this point. This building presented its challenges, but the attention paid to the many details resulted in a successful final blower door test and a job well done."

Not only is Engine 16 a NYSERDA Buildings of Excellence award winner, but it was also an incredibly complicated restoration and renovation. Located in Kips Bay, Manhattan, and sandwiched between two other equally old buildings, Engine 16 exemplifies the idea that passive house retrofits are possible anywhere.