Solar radiation, fossil fuels and subsidies

RT @metrohippie For 2 billion years, life has flourished from one source of energy, solar radiation… Past 200 yrs, 90% energy from burning fossil fuels. Metrohippie

Study: U.S. subsidizes fossil fuels 2.5 times more than renewables:

Domain name housecleaning

TE Studio will continue to broadcast at, however, starting today, we will officially prefer as our main domain. You may update our email addresses and URL’s accordingly, or update your link to us. However, both domain names will continue to function simultaneously.

Passive House lecture tonight!

Passive House Certified Building Energy Standard & Deep Energy Reduction Retrofit
Tuesday, August 25, 2009: Time 6.30PM
free to LHP+L members, non-members: $5 donation

Linden Hills Power and Light

2720 W 43rd St, Suite 101
Minneapolis, MN 55410
(612) 925-4249

List of Certified Passive House (TM) Consultants in the US now online

PHIUS published a list of all Certified Passive House (TM) Consultants in the U.S. through Google. Please find the list at this link.

You may also find a link to it on PHIUS’ links page at:

Carbon Footprint added to Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Here is the link to the Merriam-Webster website entry.

Carbon footprint (1999): the negative impact that something (as a person or business) has on the environment; specifically: the amount of carbon emitted by something during a given period.

On that note, remember that Passive House building energy standard creates buildings with the lowest certified carbon footprint (for operation) in the world.

Utah Passive House on JetsonGreen

6a00d8341c67ce53ef011570dc1279970c-800wiMy colleague Dave Brach had his first Passive House project published on JetsonGreen. You can follow the project on Twitter @ourpassivehouse

Dave can also take credit for building the custom kitchen cabinetry in our house! We love the kitchen—thanks Dave.
Eian Kitchen 1

Dave Brach/Eian kitchen

Quick movie plug

End of SuburbiaI just watched “The End of Suburbia“. This movie is already 5 years old. However, it may actually be more fun to watch it now than it was in 2004. Many of the predictions made in the movie can be matched to today’s realites—especially the economic situation. I think it’s good food for thought. I am not trying to jump on a suburbia-is-bad band wagon here, but frankly, neither is the movie. It’s trying to put it into the context of 21st century challenges like energy, economy, social fabric, and aesthetics.

Here is a summary from netflix’s page:

This provocative documentary, a regular on the film-festival circuit, examines the history of suburban life and the wisdom of this distinctly American way of life. A post-World War II concept, suburbia attracted droves of people, giving rise to sprawl and all that comes with it — good and bad. How has the environment been affected by this lifestyle, and is it sustainable? Canadian director Gregory Greene dares to ask all the tough questions.

Share in the comments section how you feel about this movie.

TE Studio turns 1!


This Independence Day marks the first anniversary of TE Studio!

We would like to use the opportunity to thank our current clients and potential clients for their business and support during this first year. Without them there would not be a TE Studio! Thanks also to the many supporters that believe in us, Passive House, and Deep Energy Reduction Retrofit. We feel that these are the most sustainable options to preserve the planet for our children, and create real value for our clients that insulates them from an uncertain energy future.

We look forward to the construction of our first Passive House project, as well as Deep Energy Retrofit projects that target a 70%+ cut in energy use for existing homes.

Here is to  building a sustainable future.

Save the date! Public lecture in August.

Linden Hills Power & Light was kind enough to invite me to lecture on Passive House and Deep Energy Reduction Retrofit in August. Here is an excerpt from their program:

Aug 25 –We Love Retro

Join our architect specialist to learn the ins and outs of deeply retrofitting old homes. A Deep Energy Reduction Retrofit (DERR) project will cut 70% or more of the energy use of buildings. You’ll also learn about the Passive House building energy standard. Passive House represents today’s highest certified building energy standard, with the promise of reducing the total energy consumption of buildings by up to 90% while providing superior comfort and indoor environmental quality – all at little or no additional up front cost. When combined with renewable energy systems such as solar photovoltaic or solar thermal, Passive House puts true zero energy buildings and carbon neutrality within reach.

Here are the details:

Passive House Certified Building Energy Standard & Deep Energy Reduction Retrofit
Tuesday, August 25, 2009: Time 7.00PM
free to LHP+L members, non-members: $5 donation

Linden Hills Power and Light

2720 W 43rd St, Suite 101
Minneapolis, MN 55410
(612) 925-4249

Thanks for attending my GbD lecture/slideshow

Thanks for attending my lecture at the Green by Design conference. It was a fabulous event and many great ideas were shared. In the spirit of the conference I am offering my slideshow for review at slideshare:

Since most of my slideshows don’t have a lot of text or bullet points, you may want to look at the Living Green Expo slideshow, which was designed to run without my presentation and offers lots of frequently asked questions and answers.

Event Reminder: Green by Design this week!

Passive House Certified Building Energy Standard
Thursday, June 11, 2009: Time 1.30PM – 2.45PM
Minnesota Green Communities
Green by Design 2009 banner
The Depot – Minneapolis
225 Third Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Call 612.375.1700

Case Study, Urban Passive House

urban Passive House birdseye 1In my spare time 😉 I’ve been working on a design for an urban Passive House. The design is meant to fit a standard size east-west facing lot. The floorplan offers a first-floor bedroom and bath, as well as an open kitchen, living, and dining area. The second floor offers a flexible layout that can be configured to hold up to 3 bed rooms, 1 bath, and a common room. This urban Passive House works either with or without a basement. Depending on the configuration, it offers between 1,675 and 2,475 usable square feet.

The roof is designed to hold solar-thermal panels that face due south at a 55 degree angle. It also offers plenty of south-facing real estate for PV panels. Ultimately, this Passive House is designed to become a net-energy positive building, e.g. it makes more energy than it consumes and pays its inhabitants by selling excess energy to the grid.urban Passive House birdseye 2

The garage building mimics the main building’s roofline. The main body of the house would be stucco, the gable-ends lap-siding. The roofing is standing-seam metal. The trellis on the south-facade shades the windows below in the summer months. It offers the potential to grow vines on it. Additional solar panels could be located on top of the trellis if so desired.

urban Passive House entry elevationIt’s a work in progress fresh off of the virtual drafting table.

Energy Audit, it's kind of like going to the doctor

Blower DoorThis is what a blower-door looks like. It is being used as part of an energy-audit to determine the performance of a building. The blower-door itself is placed inside an exterior door frame. It pressurizes or depressurizes a building at 50 Pascals pressure, based on the testing method. A meter provides a read-out of the air-leakage of the building. This tells us how “leaky” the building envelope is. We can also search for these leaks while the blower is running. Tracer gas can be used, but a simple lighter will often do the trick as well, as its flame will start to move or even get blown out once near an air-leak. More obvious leaks can usually be felt, as they create significant drafts.

Knowledge is everything. It is the foundation of a good building performance upgrade.

Once problem spots are  identified with the help of a blower-door test for example, the actual problem can be addressed properly. Follow-up testing can show the success of any improvement measure at the end of a project. Consider it a quality-control measure.


While the blower-door is running, a thermal imaging camera can be used to identify thermal properties and imperfections of the building envelope. In this picture a cold spot along the edge of a wall-to-roof connection can be seen. The pressure difference that a blower-door creates will emphasize these issues in areas where air-leakage is a contributor to the temperature difference.

Energy Audits can be compared to a visit to the doctor. You know something is not quite right and you are looking for clarification and answers. The doctor’s visit is your first step to getting answers and coming up with a strategy for healing. With buildings, energy audits are the equivalent to a doctor’s visit. They tell architects and contractors what’s not quite right and where areas of improvement are. Knowledge is key to success. Once the issues are identified, they can be dealt with and solved most efficiently and effectively.

Energy Audits can typically be ordered from your utility company. They are heavily subsidized, so you on make a small copay. If you are considering working with an architect or contract, please invite her/him to the audit—there is nothing quite as powerful as first-hand knowledge transfer. At the very least, ask your auditor for a written report and photos of any problem spots she/he identifies.

Kare11 did a feature on energy audits. Make sure to order the extended audit. This one includes thermography.

Tim on Youtube

I think this has been up for a while as it was recorded almost a year ago. I was just alerted to it by a potential client.
Thanks to Bill Karges for inviting me into his house and to talk about Passive House building energy standard.

Save the date: 4th PH Conference

PHIUS LogoThe 4th Annual North American Passive House Conference will be held on October 16-18 in Urbana, IL.

For more information, please visit PHIUS’ news and events page.