New York City and the rest of the tri-state area are getting their first wave of "passive houses," a type of construction in which a building is so well-insulated that it doesn't require heating in the winter.

Imagine a New York sans all those giant heating oil-delivering trucks lumbering about in the winter. Not to mention: sans the associated costs to keep the city's inhabitants warm.

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That's the vision of architects like Floris Buisman, who founded a U.S.-based branch of the German "Passivhaus" movement. Last year, there was only one passive house in all of New York State. This year, 12 are in construction, with 15 more planned.

One of them, a retrofit of a classic Brooklyn brownstone in Prospect Heights, will be turned into a four-unit building that builders believe renters will be willing to pay a premium for. And why not? They’re not just easy on the utility bill — they’re also party central. "If it's a very cold winter night, you just have a party — the extra body heat will do the rest," Buisman told the Wall Street Journal.

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