Roanoke Dentist Office First in World With Passivhaus Technology

From Left Dr. Singleton, Dr. Dickey, Dr. Lynch, Mayor David Bowers.

From Left Dr. Singleton, Dr. Dickey, Dr. Lynch, Mayor David Bowers.
From Left Dr. Singleton, Dr. Dickey, Dr. Lynch, Mayor David Bowers.

A trio of Roanoke dentists today hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to show off the first dentist office in the world built with “Passivhaus,” a low-energy building technology that typically reduces energy use by 70 percent.

The new building for Drs. Randolph Dickey, John Singleton and Sean Lynch, at 1510 Franklin Ave., boasts such energy-saving features as a passive geo thermal ground loop, 92 percent efficient heating and cooling energy recovery systems that deliver complete fresh air to the interior and an airtight building envelop insulation system that significantly reduces the need for oversized mechanical equipment.

It was designed and built by Structures Design Build of Roanoke, which has adopted Passivhaus as its hallmark building technology. Co-founder Adam Cohen is a “Certified Passivhaus Designer” in both North America and Europe.

“Passivhaus technology has demonstrated results, and it’s gratifying that a local business has stepped forward with a strong interest in saving energy, saving money, and reducing its carbon footprint,” Cohen said. “Passivhaus technology has existed in Europe for more than 20 years and now Structures Design Build is the leading firm in the U.S. building this ultra low-energy model and high-quality building system. It is here to stay and now has a home right here in Roanoke.”

Passivhaus, the German term for a trend in construction that raises the bar in energy efficiency standards, typically uses up to 90 percent less energy for heating and cooling than conventional buildings. Passivhaus buildings also have a footprint that reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than 70 percent over other new buildings.

There is no reason for anyone to build a regular building any more, says co-founder Steve Strauss.

“At Structures, we have developed and refined our method of building so we can now design and build a Passivhaus structure at cost parity to standard construction,” Strauss said. “Everyone can now have an ultra low-energy, newly built building, whether it’s a commercial or residential, built to Passivhaus standards.”

At 5,050 square feet, the new dentist office has architectural design features such as large overhangs and external arches similar to that of a railway passenger terminal. Its new construction also adheres to the strict architectural standards of the Old Southwest neighborhood.

Some of the many energy-efficient features found in the building include:

· Triple pane energy efficient widows that are airtight.

· Heating and cooling energy recovery systems that operate at 90 percent efficiency.

· A building structure that has no thermal bridges between the interior and exterior

· A fresh air ventilation system that brings in 100 percent fresh air without recirculation of any interior air resulting in healthier interior air.

Structures, now the nation’s largest Passivhaus firm, designed and built the first public school, The Center for Energy Efficient Design, in Rocky Mount incorporating Passivhaus standards. The company is now completing a 40,000-square-foot dormitory at Emory & Henry College built to Passivhaus standards and recently completed the Malcolm Rosenberg Hillel Center for Jewish Life in Blacksburg, the first religious building incorporating the propriety technology and standards to achieve low-energy usage certification.

After two years of operation, the Rocky Mount school used 68 percent less energy than “built to code” buildings of its size.

“With today’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, we’re seeing the continuation of a trend toward businesses of all kinds seeking out low-energy solutions because they make business sense,” said Nell Boyle, Roanoke’s sustainability outreach coordinator.

The building’s owners say there’s more at stake than saving money on energy use. By using construction material such as extremely energy efficient mechanical systems, high quality windows and doors, air tight construction, and high-quality construction techniques, the building is fitting for a business focused on the health of patients.

“We know that our investment in a Passivhaus building will yield a significant financial benefit over time, and in the meantime we immediately noticed the building is fresher and cleaner with better air quality,” said Dr. Randolph Dickey. “The atmosphere just feels better, healthier; and that’s important for our staff and patients.”

Structures Design Build is the only architectural firm and design/builder in the mid Atlantic region that offers Passivhaus technology. For more information, go to: