News

Passive House Minnesota Meeting rescheduled!

2010-01-20 MNPHA Meeting

Passive House Minnesota Meeting
December 9, 2009 rescheduled due to weather, now 1/20/2009
AIA Minnesota, International Market Square, Minneapolis
We’ll be meeting in suite 512 on the 5th floor, NOT in the AIA office.

AGENDA

  • 11.30 General introduction to the Passive House building energy standard (attendance optional)
  • 12:00 Break (Damicos is located in the courtyard of IMS)
  • 12.15 Welcome, general introductions, and introduction of the Passive House Alliance (PHA)
  • 12.30 Introduction of the Passive House Minnesota chapter: Goals, membership, target audience, and benefits
  • 12.45 Introduction of a potential committee structure for the chapter
  • 1.00 General Discussion
  • 1.30 Meeting schedule and agenda items for the next meeting
  • 1.45 Adjourn
  • Stick around for general networking or small discussion groups.

Please contact us if you would like to be invited to this meeting: info@passivehousemn.org

It's a hole!

2009-12-03 Excavation

Excavation has officially begun at the site. This image was taken on day 1 of construction. www.PassiveHouseinTheWoods.com

This is the Passive House in the Woods

It’s been almost a year since we started work on the Passive House in the Woods. It’s about time that it makes an appearance on the blog. So without further ado, here is an image and a description.

Passive House in the Woods rendering

The Passive House in the Woods is a 1,900 square foot two-story single family home with walk-out basement level, and a rooftop terrace. It sits on just over one acre in the Town of Hudson, WI—minutes from interstate 94. Located on the outer edge of a residential development, the home overlooks the St. Croix river valley. The building lot provides stunning views Read more →

What is Passive House?

I recently edited this article and thought it’d be a good idea to put it back on the blog as an entry. This entry is permanently linked on the right hand side under pages.

Passive House is a rigorous, voluntary building energy standard focusing on superior energy efficiency and quality of life at low operating cost.

Passive House is the highest certified building energy standard in the world, with the promise of reducing the total energy consumption of buildings by up to 90%, while providing superior comfort and indoor environmental quality. When Read more →

Body Heat

builderonline.com article on PH

Repost of an article about Passive House on builderonline.com

Event Alert: Passive House Minnesota Meeting Dec. 9

You are cordially invited to the first Passive House Minnesota meeting.

We are looking to found a local organization to support and promote the Passive House building energy standard. We are looking for planners, designers, engineers, builders, vendors, suppliers, educators, lobbyists, building geeks, and energy conservationists—basically professionals who would like to support and promote the Passive House building energy standard. Join us at the meeting and become a member of a strong lobby for a strong concept.

We’ll be meeting in suite 512 (AIA conference suite) at International Market Square in Minneapolis. (NOT in the AIA office)

AGENDA

  • 11.30 General introduction to the Passive House building energy standard (attendance optional)
  • 12:00 Break (Damicos is located in the courtyard of IMS)
  • 12.15 Welcome, general introductions, and introduction of the Passive House Alliance (PHA)
  • 12.30 Introduction of the Passive House Minnesota chapter: Goals, membership, target audience, and benefits
  • 12.45 Introduction of a potential committee structure for the chapter
  • 1.00 General Discussion
  • 1.30 Meeting schedule and agenda items for the next meeting
  • 1.45 Adjourn
  • Stick around for general networking or small discussion groups.

Please contact us if you would like to partake in this meeting: info@passivehousemn.org

Book Tip: The Green Tragedy

The Green Tragedy by Pat Murphy

I just finished reading “The Green Tragedy” by Pat Murphy. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Pat at the 2008 and 2009 Passive House conferences. I admire his sensibility for the dilemma we currently face in respect to energy and buildings. IMHO, this book is a great summary of what’s going on in the building industry right now. It’s not all bad, as Pat points out a number of opportunities to make things right. Thumbs up and thanks for your work, Pat!

Event Reminder: PH Lecture tomorrow

The Passive House Standard: What it is and Why it Matters
Converge Emerge, 75th Annual AIA Minnesota Convention & Exposition

November 11, 2009;  Time: 8.30AM
2009 AIA-MN Convention

convergeemerge

Minneapolis Convention Center, Room 211B

I will be giving this lecture with Stephan Tanner. You can find him at http://www.theperfectbuilding.com/

Rp: Passivhaus Crosses the Atlantic

Repost of an article by Martin Holladay about his visit at the 4th North American Passive House Conference this past weekend in Urbana, IL: “Clearing away misconceptions will improve the dialogue between Passivhaus advocates and American builders”

PassivHaus Becomes Active—Further Commentary on PassivHaus

John Straube’s follow up article can be found at this link: Insight

In Defense of the Passive House Standard

Screen shot 2009-10-21 at 12.17.59 PM

Article: In Defense of the Passive House Standard

A point-by-point clarification of why the Passive House Standard sets a worthy goal for North America by my colleagues, Marc Rosenbaum and David White.

This reposted article follows up with John Straube’s article, referenced in my last post.

PH Article on buildingscience.com

A number of people recommended John Straube’s article on buildingscience.com to me. I appreciate that PH is being discussed on buildingscience.com and John’s in-depth assessment of PH in cold climate settings.

I thought I’d offer some perspective from my corner of the world (Minneapolis, MN = cold climate). Read more →

Passive House at the 2009 AIA-MN Convention

Passive House at the 2009 AIA-MN Convention
November 11, 2009;  Time: 8.30AM
2009 AIA-MN Convention

convergeemerge

Minneapolis Convention Center, exact location t.b.a.

Project Presentation at upcoming Passive House Conference

Passive House in the Woods
October 16, 2009  Time: 3.30 pm

4th Annual Passive House Conference

PH Conference

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Urbana, IL 61801

Campus Maps

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: http://green.autoblog.com/2009/09/19/stury-u-s-subsidises-fossil-fuels-2-5-times-more-than-renewabl/

http://www.eli.org/pressdetail.cfm?ID=205

Domain name housecleaning

TE Studio will continue to broadcast at www.testudio.com, however, starting today, we will officially prefer www.testudio.com 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

LHPLTapeHeader760
2720 W 43rd St, Suite 101
Minneapolis, MN 55410
(612) 925-4249
Directions

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: http://passivehouse.us/passiveHouse/Links.html

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!

birthday

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

LHPLTapeHeader760
2720 W 43rd St, Suite 101
Minneapolis, MN 55410
(612) 925-4249
Directions

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: http://www.slideshare.net/timeian

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
Directions

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.

Thermography

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.

Thanks for visiting the TE Studio booth

Thanks to all that visited the TE Studio booth at the Living Green Expo! We had a great time and enjoyed talking with all of you about Passive House and Deep Energy Reduction Retrofit. We look forward to working with some of you to  maximize your investment and minimize its impact on the environment.
Share photos on twitter with Twitpic
Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Free Event Reminder: Living Green Expo this weekend

TE Studio at the Living Green Expo
May 2-3, 2009: Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. / Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Living Green Expo Logo

Minnesota State Fair Grounds (Saint Paul)
Booth J-6

We’ll be showcasing Passive House building energy standard and the Deep Energy Reduction Retrofit concept. We look forward to meeting with you.

Tim Eian confirmed as speaker at Green by Design Conference

Passive House Certified Building Energy Standard
Thursday, June 11, 2009: Time t.b.a.
Minnesota Green Communities
Green by Design 2009 banner
The Depot – Minneapolis
225 Third Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Call 612.375.1700
Directions

Lecture Reminder

Passive House Building Energy Standard
Tuesday, April 7 2009, 11.15 AM – 12.30 PM
Invitation by the Architecture and Ecology & Environmental Technology courses

U of M logo
University of Minnesota – Rapson Hall
89 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Directions

Earth Hour – lights off!

I was just alerted to Earth Hour, a WWF supported event that is coming up this Saturday. As a reader of my blog, you may want to participate and become part of Earth Hour.

Congratulations!

You have successfully registered to turn out and take action for Earth Hour 2009. On March 28, 2009 at 8:30 p.m. local time, you will join hundreds of millions of people around the world in making a bold statement about climate change. By turning off your lights for one hour, Earth Hour, you will send a message that Americans care about this issue and stand with the rest of the world in finding solutions to the escalating climate crisis.

As a participant, there are several ways to ensure Earth Hour 2009 is a success. Earth Hour encourages individuals, educational institutions, organizations, businesses, and cities to sign up and participate. Spread the word by inviting them to join.

Take it a step further, and urge your elected officials to turn out the lights and take strong action to fight climate change.

One person committed to reducing energy consumption can make a difference, but millions working together can change the world. The Earth Hour Team will communicate with you to ensure you’re receiving up-to-date highlights and additional ways to make Earth Hour the most successful climate changing event in history.

Earth Hour 2009–WWF’s global climate change movement.

March 28, 2009 at 8:30 p.m. Turn out. Take action.

The Systems Approach

I just read a passage in ACI‘s “Moving Homes Toward Carbon Neutrality” whitepaper that I find to be a wonderful summary of the paradigm shift the building industry needs to accomplish. In my opinion designers, contractors and homeowners alike need to consider the building as a system in order to understand how to make significant and truly valuable improvements—not just in regards to energy.

In housing we have discovered that moisture and mold problems, combustion spillage, and indoor air pollution can only be addressed by the systems approach, whereas the component by component approach of old did not work. With all of these problems, the interactions between components of the house were very important, but were not always obvious when we looked at one component or area at a time. For example, while the moisture problem may have seemed worse in the bedroom of a sick child, it often started either outside or in the basement/crawl space. Combustion spillage problems in the utility room were sometimes caused by the powerful new kitchen range hood. Changing a natural draft furnace to a high-efficiency one, without introducing controlled, low-rate ventilation, often resulted in the build-up of pollution indoors that was worse than the occasional spillage problem from that furnace. All these were system problems and they were much more easily identified when the systems approach was used.

I encourage anybody who is thinking about remodeling to look at ACI’s whitepaper and consider the opportunities it highlights. A building is like a set of dominoes: tip the first one over and a whole bunch of others will start to fall also. Each component has an impact on other components. Together, they work in concert—creating a wonderful symphony, or a ghastly amount of noise. It is therefore of utmost importance to carefully and decisively create a retrofit composition that enhances the features as well as the performance of a building, and returns the favor with a Whole that is greater than the sum of its parts (okay, I borrowed that one from the last Passive House conference).

Beauty, delight, performance, efficiency: those are some of the things that fascinate me with buildings. Hence the company slogan: beautiful, resource-efficient buildings. The systems approach is key to success on these fronts.

Lecture Announcement—U of M

Passive House Building Energy Standard
Tuesday, April 7 2009, 11.15 AM – 12.30 PM
U of M logo
University of Minnesota – Rapson Hall
89 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Directions

First Passive House Interest Group Meeting, Summary

Last Saturday, a group of people who are interested in Passive House gathered at the Red Stag Supperclub in Minneapolis to exchange thoughts, ask questions, and share visions. Fourteen guests joined host Tim Eian and special guest Stephan Tanner for a 2+ hour long event. The group was comprised of people who are interested in building a Passive House, educators, students and professionals.

Stephan and Tim shared the basics of Passive House design in a cold-climate. Stephan offered insight in some of the specific challenges of building the Biohaus in Bemidji, MN. He also covered many building design-related questions and talked about materials available in the U.S., while Tim answered questions about Passive House education through PHIUS (Passive House Institute U.S.) and ongoing work in his practice.

A great part of the discussion focused on similarities and differences between “standard” construction and Passive House design. Stephan offered the comparison of the 150 mpg car. He pointed out that while standard design and construction practices can yield incrementally higher performance utilizing existing paradigms, Passive House in a cold climate offers a leapfrog approach with extreme performance. At the same time, Stephan cautioned of a much smaller margin of error as well as the requirement for great attention to detail in both planning and execution.

As a group, we decided to collect thoughts and ideas following this first meeting to develop a schedule and agenda for future events.

I invite you to send your comments and thoughts to help with this process.

Event Reminder: PH Lecture at MN CEE today

Introduction to Passive House Building Energy Standard
Wednesday, February 25, 2009  11.30 AM
cee_logo
Center for Energy and Envrionment
212 3rd Avenue North, Suite 560
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Phone: (612) 335-5858
Directions

This is not a public event!

Reminder: PH Interest Group Meeting

First Twin Cities Passive House Interest Group Meeting
Saturday, February 21, 2009  10 AM to Noon
Red Stag Supperclub
509 1st Avenue NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
(612) 767-7766
Directions