Prefab Passive House

A 25 unit carbon-neutral Passive House-designed community demonstrates the scalability of using prefab components. 

The Catskill Project (TCP) is a planned 90-acre community of 25 Passive House-designed, carbon-neutral homes, meeting rigorous design standards for exceptional air quality and consistent, comfortable indoor temperature year-round. TCP homes are high-quality, high-performance homes, with air-source heat pumps, induction stoves, and energy-efficient appliances. 

The Livingston Manor, N.Y.-based community is Green Builder’s Green Home of the Year for 2024, in the Offsite Construction category. 

Project Stats

HOTY-2024-logoFName: The Catskill Project, Livingston Manor, New York

Builder: Dariusz Chiach, Professional Construction Group of New York

Architect/Designer: Buck Moorhead, Buck Moorhead Architect

Developers: Greg Hale and Peter Malik, Manor Falls Associates
Landscape Architect: Michy McCreary, Mittsu Landscape Architecture 

Photographer: Marcus Brooks, The Heliograph Project; Pavel Bendov, ArchExplorer; Sergio Saade, Sergio Saade Photography

According to Greg Hale, co-founder and principal of project developer Manor Falls Associates, all homes are airtight, with continuous insulation, triple-pane windows, no thermal bridging, and energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) with MERV 13 filters for superior indoor air quality (IAQ). 

Houses in the community are all-electric, with onsite solar and storage to ensure the power source is clean. The homeowner also has the option to obtain power through a community solar subscription. 

The-Catskill-Project-Livingston-Manor-Feature Corner

Precise Panelized Construction

By partnering with homebuilder Bensonwood and utilizing its Tektoniks offsite, panelized construction system, TCP benefited from its prefabrication capabilities. A typical example: A stringent airtightness standard (0.6 ACH@ 50 Pa).

“The precision possible in Bensonwood’s factory makes Passive House performance a replicable outcome instead of an exceptional achievement,” Hale says. “Because of this approach, developers can apply these principles to an entire development versus one home at a time.”

While some people may have doubts about how efficient Passive House really is, TCP often alleviates them. “We have confirmed for ourselves that Passive House really works,” Hale says. “The average monthly utility bill for our first house is $69 over two years of operation, while the indoor temperature is consistently comfortable. We also conducted a test in the winter, switching the heat off for a week in mid-January when temperatures dipped below zero. The indoor temperature never dropped below 50 degrees during the entire test period.”

Healthy Home Features

For today’s buyers, a healthy home is important—and perhaps more so—than an energy-efficient one. TCP demonstrated its resilience in 2023, when Canadian wildfires resulted in New York state being draped in smog as the wildfires drifted south.

“Thanks to our airtight homes…the air quality inside the model home wasn’t compromised and remained particle-free unless you opened the door or window,” Hale says. “This is an important reason why we are building more resilient homes, and it helps us to explain to those who might not ‘get it’ why we build to higher standards.” 

In addition to zeroing out operational carbon through the community’s design process, the TCP team has prioritized minimizing the community’s embodied carbon from the beginning. From the selection of ethically sourced building materials and key project partners to the paper used for marketing collateral, the team is constantly strategizing on the best products to use to reduce embodied carbon, Hale notes.


Carbon Neutral Achievement

An important extension of TCP’s values is to show others how carbon neutrality can be achieved, thereby impacting one of the primary carbon emissions sectors in the economy, he adds.

The Catskill Project is the only single-family residential carbon-neutral community under development in the Northeast. TCP’s developer and architect prioritize the importance of including embodied carbon in the definition of carbon neutrality when thinking about strategies to use and hurdles to overcome in TCP’s quest for carbon reduction. 

“The Earth’s resources are finite,” Hale notes. “Using fewer resources leaves more to go around for everyone and everything else.”

People are getting the message. “Dozens of people have come to tour the project — and it is in most cases immediately obvious that those who ‘get it’ are interested in exploring it further,” Hale says. “The bifurcation at a very early stage of the visits is quite remarkable. People who understand high-performance buildings respond very positively to the home and community design.”  


Wood siding consisting of rough sawn green hemlock (left) and Gendai Shou Sugi Ban (right) offer resistance to mold, dry rot and insects. Credit: © Marcus Brooks/The Heliograph Project

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Dual- and triple-pane windows fill the house with natural lighting and temperature control throughout the year. Credit: © Pavel Bendov/ArchExplorer


Community houses are all-electric, with onsite solar and storage to ensure a clean, renewable energy source. Credit: © The Catskill Project


ENERGY STAR-certified appliances, such as an induction range and refrigerator, and locally sourced white oak kitchen cabinetry offer environmental and economic advantages. CREDIT: © The Catskill Project

Key Components

Appliances: Bertazzoni and LG induction ranges, Bertazzoni dishwashers and refrigerators, Whirlpool washer/dryers 

Building Envelope: Slab-on-grade foundation with Warmform insulation; prefabricated wall and roof panels from Bensonwood, Keene, N.H.: Tektoniks WFB10+ Wall Panel System; Tektoniks Ventilated Roof Panel System: Rockwool insulation for interior service cavities. Final wall system R-47+; final roof system R-60+. 

Cabinets, Shelves, Millwork: White oak custom kitchen cabinetry and millwork by T&M Custom Furniture, Narrowsburg, N.Y. 

Caulks and Sealants: Brands vary by location, including Sika, GE, DAP.  

Countertops: Richlite Black Diamond (100 percent post-consumer recycled paper) from Ecosupply. 

Decks: Natural cedar (untreated); Trex Select and Enhance composite decking; varies by location. 

Doors and Hardware: Exterior doors: Unilux ModernLine (triple-glazed, U-value 0.15); Interior doors: 8-foot solid core slab doors; Baldwin Reserve and Emtek hardware 

Electrical: Various electrical contractors, including Eastern Electrical Contracting, Liberty, N.Y. 

Exterior Finishes: Rough sawn green hemlock by Ghent Wood Products; Gendai Shou Sugi Ban by Nakamoto Forestry; Cupaclad Natural Slate Rainscreen Cladding (building skirt); Black Locust from Locust Lumber Co. (alternative building skirt material). 

Fire Protection: Hardwired smoke and CO2 detectors throughout 

Flooring/Trim: Site-harvested ash (flooring, trim) and cherry (stairs, ceiling); V3-engineered wood flooring from Shafer Hardwoods, Tecumseh, Mich.; Polished concrete slab in open plan kitchen/living/dining space

Garage Doors: Raynor from Dutchess Overhead Doors.

HVAC/Ducts: Fujitsu 1.5-ton air source heat pump; Mitsubishi 2-ton air source heat pump (varies by location); EZ Air Flow

Insulation: Densepack cellulose, Rockwool Comfortbatt, Steico wood fiberboard, Siga membrane (cellulose and fiberboard included in Bensonwood panel/roof systems, Rockwool for interior service cavities) 

Landscaping: Beaverkill Landscaping, Livingston Manor, N.Y. (finish landscaping); Mountaintop Landscaping, Livingston Manor, N.Y. (excavation and grading)

Lighting: Can, strip and optional cove lighting, all 100 percent LED; Decorative LED lighting by Stickbulb

Paints and Stains: Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams zero-VOC

Plumbing/Plumbing Fixtures: Watermark Brooklyn, Kohler Purist, TOTO (toilets), Duravit (sinks and vanities). Various plumbers including Spriggins Mechanical, Hurleyville, N.Y. 

Renewable Energy Systems (solar, wind, etc.): LG Neon 2 389AC roof-mounted PV (9.12 kW, 24 panels), Tesla Powerwall 2 Battery Storage (27.00 kWh); installed by SunCommon, Kingston, N.Y.; Estimated solar offset: 100 percent 

Roof: Standing mechanical seam metal 

Tile: Fireclay, Nemo, Porcelanosa

Ventilation: Zehnder Q350 Energy Recovery Ventilator, AAA Flanders EZ Flow air filters. 

Water Heating: A.O. Smith 

Windows, Skylights, Patio Doors: Unilux ModernLine Wood-Aluminum Clad (triple-glazed, U-value 0.15); Marvin dual-pane for three-season rooms (outside thermal envelope).