architecture - engineering - construction blog

The results are in on the First-Ever US Collegiate Design-Build Passive House Ice Box Challenge with Pratt Institute School of Architecture

May 18, 2023

Sto Corp., the innovative world leader in complete single-sourced solutions for the building envelope, has teamed up with Pratt Institute and Passive House for Everyone (PHFE) as an advocate sponsor for the first-ever US Collegiate Designed and Built rendition of the International Passive House Ice Box Challenge. Created to demonstrate the essential role Passive House standards can play in mitigating the global climate crisis, the Ice Box Challenge has been an effective illustration around the world. Passive House design and construction has five principles that are fundamental to the energy efficiency of buildings, drastically reducing a building’s energy use while enhancing health and comfort.

©Passive House for Everyone
©Passive House for Everyone

The Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn Ice Box Challenge demonstrated these principles effectively and publicly as the architecture students designed and constructed two ice box structures, one according to local standard building codes and the other guided by high-performance Passive House building standards. Students and onlookers alike were able to observe how a half-ton of ice blocks inside each structure fared over one week.

In Cho, Pratt Institute visiting professor and founder of the climate education non-profit Passive House for Everyone, was overseeing the challenge as part of her curriculum. Pratt Institute’s iteration of the international Ice Box Challenge is notable on multiple fronts. The students at Pratt were the first to feature a modular construction technique, which allows the two ice box structures to be deconstructed and reassembled on other campuses for future Challenges.

Sto was honored to be a part of this project and attended the reveal event on Monday, May 8 at the Rose Garden on Pratt’s main campus. Esteemed speakers and the weighing of the ice made for an exciting event. Dan Canova, Construction Design Manager at Sto Corp., worked with the students to provide hands-on training and spoke at the event. 

“Sto’s mission statement is Building with Conscience. Today’s event represents this concept of being conscious of our future, sustainability, and change in building codes. I am confident that this next generation of architects will ensure it happens,” said Dan. 

After sitting for one week, the 1,144-pound block of ice in the Passive House standard box still weighed 900 pounds! The box constructed according to New York standard building codes was still very much intact, at 737 pounds. The remaining ice weight in the Passive House structure was 20% higher than the NY building code structure. As Pratt Institute visiting professor and founder of the climate education non-profit Passive House for Everyone, In Cho, mentioned in her remarks at the event, the hope was that the two structures would perform on par [roughly equal]. The NY code has improved since the last time the Ice Box Challenge was conducted in Time Square in 2018, but to see the results at the event emphasizes the benefits of Passive House principles.


©Passive House for Everyone


©Passive House for Everyone


©Passive House for Everyone

See the entire event:

Sto Corp. is more than just an advocate sponsor of the Ice Box Challenge. “This project was about educating our up-and-coming generation, so it was a real treat to get to work directly with the students,” Canova notes. His instruction was essential to this challenge as Sto Gold Coat®, an air and water-resistive barrier will be applied to the Passive House structure. Additionally, Sto is a contributor to the Passive House movement with a wide range of systems designed to minimize energy consumption. “Energy efficiency is a major focus of what we do at Sto. So we’re excited to be a part of Pratt Institute’s Ice Box Challenge and to support these rising students,” says Jose Berlingeri, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sto Americas, “Together with the next generation, we can start a new era of Building with conscience for new and retrofit construction.”

According to Cho, current building practices are a leading cause of climate change. “Buildings contribute up to 40% of carbon emissions that are conducive to climate change, and in dense cities like New York, that number is almost up to 70%.” Cho says Passive House principles can go a long way toward addressing these issues by lowering “heating and cooling energy demands by up to 90%.” While climate action is the primary thrust of Passive House principles, its appeal is multi-faceted. Cho added, “It’s great for energy efficiency, but it also creates incredible comfort and health,” referring to the cleaner, filtered air and more consistent temperatures inside Passive House buildings.

The Pratt Institute’s Ice Box Challenge launched on May 1, 2023, in the Rose Garden of the main campus, with the final result revealed on May 8th.

@StoCorp #StoCorp #building #offices #stoventec

Company: Sto Corp.

Product: Coatings