Panel on Sustainable Lifestyle today, 10.30 AM

I am a guest speaker on a panel on sustainable lifestyle today, at 10.30 AM, at Christ the King Lutheran Church in White Bear Lake. If you would like to join the conversation, or be a guest, you are welcome to join us in the fellowship hall. Christ the King Lutheran Church is located at 1660 Birch Lake Avenue, White Bear Lake, MN 55110, (651) 429-4828. Directions.

Quick reminder: Passive House Conference is coming up

Just a quick reminder that the 3rd Annual North American Passive House Conference is coming up November 7 through 9, 2008, in Duluth. Please find more information at this link.

16 inch SIP sample arrived


Enercept 16 inch structural insulated roofing panel

16" SIP

I just took delivery of a 16″ SIP panel sample piece courtesy of Enercept. As you can see in the picture, the sample includes a TJI spine—this piece came off a run they did for a roofing job. Enercept offers thermally broken studs for wall panels as well as the pictured TJIs. They claim that the EPS foam is made largely from recycled content. I am looking to verify that.

The seam tape is labeled as Ashland’s Structural Insulated Panel (SIP) Sealing Tape, a  patented, pressure-sensitive, vulcanized butyl rubber adhesive laminated to a polyolefin carrier membrane. This sort of product is of interest not only to SIP construction but would be useful for any wall assembly that utilizes OSB as an air tightness and/or vapor retarder.

What is the relevance of a 16 inch SIP, you may ask? Well, it turns out that for Passive House walls in Minnesota climate, this panel provides nearly adequate R-value. For those not familiar with the term, SIP stands for “structural insulated panel” and basically describes a sandwich product that can be used for building envelopes: floors, walls, and ceilings/roofs.

The Benefits of Passive House Design

At TE Studio, we believe that Passive House design—both for new construction and retrofits—delivers tremendous value for our clients. Here is a brief summary on why you might want to consider Passive House Design for your next construction project.

Economy: Significant conservation and improved performance = cost savings to the owner

  • Up to 75% savings on source energy (pending household use pattern), e.g. reduced utility bills (in Twin Cities, as much as $2,500 year or more in utility savings for an average sized residence)
  • Potentially reduced homeowner’s insurance (due to reduced mechanical system and quality construction) Read more →

The Tragedy of Suburbia

I always meant to post this talk by James Howard Kunstler. As a “foreigner” in the U.S. I cannot help but observe certain differences from my native Germany and Europe as a whole, that really have a profound impact on day-to-day living here—especially in the Midwest. James makes a lot of points along those lines that I sympathize with. I encourage you to watch this lecture carefully. I believe that it is our responsibility as building designers, architects, and urban planners to better understand the human nature and human desires—then turn them into a built environment worth caring for, worth being proud of. I believe it is important for people to identify with their surroundings. As a result, we have the opportunity to create comfortable, efficient, and enjoyable space (indoors and outside) that will empower us, encourage us, and impact the environment less, while at the same time help define who we are and what we stand for.

(Please note, the talk contains some strong language that may not be appropriate for children)

Updated Passive House FAQ section

I updated the frequently asked questions (FAQ) section of the TE Studio website. You may find it at:  Please click on FAQ at the top. I will also add that information as a page to this blog for your convenience.

Reactions to Passive House Talk

“Once again, your talk was great. You drew the largest crowd we have ever had. It is a popular subject that people want to learn about, and they should, as this is extremely important for the planet. Thanks for doing such a great job of conveying the information to us.”

Oram Miller,


“[…] I’m even more intrigued by the Passive House approach based on new information I learned from your talk. You are an effective presenter.  Again as I said last night I think you were in your element.”

J Chesnut, Studio 2030

“Hey, Tim.
Good job tonight! […]”

Samantha Strong, Metamorphosis Realty & Design/Build


I really enjoyed your presentation.  […] I got a good overall feeling for the intelligence behind the Passive House system.  […]”

David Washburn, Valcucine Kitchens

First Passive House Talk a Success

I’d like to thank all those who came to listen to my first talk about Passive House design and building standard here in the Twin Cities last night. I greatly enjoyed the discussion and appreciate the overwhelming amount of positive feedback.

To those of you who would like to see the last 6 slides that we did not get to, I posted them after the break. Read more →

Amory Lovins: We must win the oil endgame

This is already a few years old but Amory Lovins is just amazing at putting things into perspective. I believe, that we can make a similar case as he makes for automobiles and airplanes for buildings, and I secretly wish that I can one day point to a convincing lecture like this about Passive Houses versus existing and new construction buildings.

Reminder: Passive House Talk tonight

Just a quick reminder: I will giving a talk about Passive House Design tonight at 6.30PM, at the Ramsey County Library in Roseville on Hamline & County Road B, in the Community Meeting Room. I hope to see you there.

Upcoming Passive House talk in Roseville on 10/13/2008

I will be speaking at this month’s Mid-West Building Ecology Coalition meeting on Monday, October 13th, at the Ramsey County Library in Roseville (Northeast corner Hamline and County Road B, Community Meeting Room to the left as you enter the library. The library is one block south of Highway 36 on Hamline Road.)
The meeting starts at 6.30PM. My talk will focus on an introduction to the concept of Passive House design and the potential it holds.

The Mid-West Building Ecology Coalition is hosted by Oram Miller of Create Healthy Homes.

You may find other upcoming events on this page of my blog.

Passive House mentioned in Journal of Light Construction article

image source: JLC online

In the August 2008 issue, Journal of Light Construction published an article titled: Making the best of rising energy costs, by Paul Eldrenkamp. In his article, Paul talkes about different building standards, one of which is Passive House. Paul also addresses one of my biggest issues with “green” building — the leck of emphasis on energy! I could not agree more that we can do so much better in terms of performance of buildings.
While Energy Star and LEED offer a potential 25% reduction in energy consumption over code-construction, Passive House uses energy modeling and field-testing to deliver up to 90% reduced energy consumption for space conditioning, and a 75% reduction in overall source-energy consumption. All of this at a very small increase in day-one construction cost, which are easily offset in a very short amount of time, while creating real value, increased sale or resale prices, and up to 25% quicker sales. 
Passive House retrofits offer the potential of reducing energy consumption for space-conditioning by up to 80%. This is still much more than a LEED conversion would yield. Nevertheless, LEED can be a great partner, as many of its requirements compliment Passive House standard quite well.
So, enjoy Paul’s article and consider energy when looking at your next project, no matter what the type or budget may be. Improvements can be made at any step along the way. And the benefit is always yours.

Cradle to Cradle

I just got the audiobook version of Cradle to Cradle, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. The concept is extremely interesting and in anybody’s search of sustainability, it presents the ultimate concept of how to achieve it. William McDonough spoke at TED, which I frequently look at for excellent talks on all sorts of subjects, as a matter of fact, you can subscribe to TED’s talks in iTunes (as Podcasts) and receive all their available videos for free.

Green Collar Jobs

With all the conventions and political activity these days I hear a lot about green collar jobs. I would describe myself as having one of these green collar jobs, and I have even had people send their resumes to work with me in this green economy. Now we just need the economy to catch up with the green collars that are out here. So my political message of the day is: Read more →

More Passive House 101 Pages posted

Today, I posted a number of small text pages that highlight these areas of Passive House design in a nutshell:

The links will remain posted under the “Pages” menu item in the right-hand column of this blog. More information is also available on the TE Studio website.