Pratt Ice Box Challenge:

Empowering Tomorrow’s High

Performance Designers

If you can’t take the heat, build a better kitchen–that’s the moral of the story from last year’s Pratt Ice Box Challenge, when students from Pratt Institute set thousands of pounds of ice outside in the city heat for an engaging demonstration of the power of Passive House Building Standards. Students built two boxes–one to New York City codes, and one to the rigorous standards of Passive House–before placing a block of ice in each and leaving them in the sun for the next week.

The results were predictable for anyone who is familiar with Passive House standards. Seven days later, 900 pounds of ice were left in the Passive house box, compared with only 737 pounds of ice left in the box built to code.

The Ice Box Challenge has a long and international history of similar demonstrations that have taken place in Belgium, Brussels, Colorado, and most recently, India, but Pratt’s demonstration distinguishes itself by being the first student-led Challenge to take place in the United States. It’s a strong indicator that the next generation of architects will be paying close attention to the climate impacts of their designs

Next week, Pratt Institute is teaming up with Building Energy Exchange to celebrate the work of these students and the results from last year’s challenge in a new exhibit, the Pratt Ice Box Challenge: Empowering Tomorrow’s High Performance Designers. The celebration will be joined by experts from NYSERDA, the NYC Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice, Passive House for Everyone, Rockwool, and The Passive House Network who will highlight the role that high-performance buildings can play in reducing energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and combating climate change. The full list of speakers includes:

  • Loic Chappoz, Senior Advisor, NYSERDA
  • Joe Chavez, Deputy Director, Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice
  • In Cho, Co-Founder, Passive House for Everyone
  • Jeremias Emestica, Student, Pratt Institute
  • Tyler Haas, Student, Pratt Institute
  • Todd Kimmel, US Senior Manager – Sustainable Solutions, Rockwool
  • Ken Levenson, Executive Director, The Passive House Network
  • Carolyn Shafer, Director, Center for Sustainable Design Strategies, Pratt Institute
  • Richard Yancey, Executive Director, Building Energy Exchange

You can join the celebration and see the showcase next Tuesday, May 14th, at the Building Energy Exchange. Register for the event and find more information here.