Deep Energy Reduction Retrofit

MinnePHit House in NAPHN Passive House Flip Book

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The MinnePHit House is being featured in NAPH Network’s latest Passive House Flip Book. Check it out here. It’s free.

Eagle Bluff Retrofit Earns MN-first 1000 Home Challenge Certification

Eagle Bluff Director's Residence (Northeast perspective)

In 2011, Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center completed a Deep Energy Reduction Retrofit of its director’s residence—its oldest most energy inefficient building—with the help of TE Studio.  The residence was originally built in 1973.  It used to be heated with 17 cords of split, dried oak firewood.  It was extremely leaky—during a home audit in 2007, it would not achieve 50 Pascals of pressure during the initial blower door test. It eventually achieved a 0.45 ACH50 reading.

We provided initial consulting and retrofit designs for this project, which was later executed with the help of many volunteers. The home was just recognized by ACI as the 9th in the country to meet the 1000 Home Challenge, and as the first project in Minnesota to do so.

Find the official letter of recognition from ACI below the break.

Read more →

Retrofit Lecture at the 2012 Living Green Expo

Want to learn about Passive House retrofitting? Tim Delhey Eian will be showcasing a recent Passive House retrofit project in the TwinCites—the MinnePHit house in a presentation on Saturday, May 5, at 2pm in Bay A at the 4-H Building; MN State Fair.

MinnePHit House during construction

Earth Week Lecture On 4/25 Featuring MinnePHit

NHCC logo

Thinking about building or remodeling a home, or want to know more about energy efficient technology to reduce your carbon footprint as well as your heating and cooling bills? Tim Eian has focused his architectural skills on incorporating the latest technology in energy efficient new and remodeled homes, which use a tiny fraction of most houses.

This presentation at the North Hennepin Community College highlights the “MinnePHit House” project in South Minneapolis—a deep energy reduction project that turns a 1935 house into a Passive House home.

More information can be found on the North Hennepin County Community College website.

Date: 4/25/2012

Time: 10 – 11 AM

Location: North Hennepin Community College CLA 133

Links: MinnePHit House Website  |  MinnePHit House on Facebook

The MinnePHit House

The MinnePHit house

At TE Studio we are fortunate enough to attract some pretty incredible people. Most recently, we were commissioned by a couple from South Minneapolis to bring their mid-30s home into the 21st century of performance. A brief description of their family reads like this:

Two grown-ups, three girls, two dogs and eight chickens. A 1935 neo-Tudor in Minneapolis, MN. A passion for the planet.

MinnePHit collage

You can see where we are going with this. With ground-breaking in sight, we are looking to make a Passive House retrofit. “Ze Germans” call it EnerPHit—as in energy efficient passive house retrofit.

EnerPHit logo

This means some significant changes—most noticeably to the building envelope, or those bits that separate inside from out. TE Studio is providing the design for this winter coat. We are looking to sustainable materials in an effort to cut the heating demand to about 12kBTUs, or about three hairdryers going at the same time. 9-1/2″ i-Joists will be screwed to an air-tightened sheathing layer on the outside of the current shell, and dense-packed with cellulose insulation for an R-value of 44. Since we are also adding to the back of the house we decided to design a new “hat” for the home. A trussed hip-roof will provide R-77 of cellulose insulation. Even the basement will be insulated to R-values in the 30s. Combined with an airtightness goal of 1.0 ACH50 or better, this retrofit will meet the requirements set forth in the current draft of the EnerPHit standard. According to the German Passiv Haus Institute, this is the first EnerPHit project in North America.

Mechanical ventilation is a good idea for most buildings, but it is essential for any high-performance building. We designed an ERV-based whole house system with an efficiency rating of over 90%. This means that the precious heating energy will remain inside the envelope while the occupants are supplied with outside air year-round. We are able to recycle the home’s existing boiler and continue to heat the home with in-floor heat. The same boiler will also provide hot water. This project demonstrates the amazing potential of a high-efficiency design for existing homes in a cold climate through a great amount of recycling of what is existing—paired with carefully selected sustainable materials and methods for the retrofit and what is new.

The design is complementary to the building’s origins and surroundings. An open first floor plan will provide much needed space for the family, and offer a connection with the backyard. On the second floor we are adding bed rooms for the kids and an additional bath. At just over 2,000 finished square feet (counting the basement), this is no mansion for 5 people and two dogs, but with its well organized layout, it will be incredibly functional.

We are very excited about this project. The owners are offering updates on the project at

Only one question left to ask: What do the chickens think of this?

MinnePHit Chicken

Event Reminder: MPLS Neighborhood Talk on 2/12

I will be at the Corcoran Park Neighborhood Sustainability Event tomorrow, February 12, 2011. From 11 am – 12.30 pm I will be lecturing on Deep Energy Reduction Retrofitting. You can find out how a retrofit can bring 21st century performance to your home.

Corcoran Park
3334 20th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55407

Open to the public.

Corcoran Park Neighborhood Event

I will be giving a talk about Passive House and Deep Energy Retrofits at the upcoming Corcoran Park Neighborhood Sustainability Event

February 12, 2011. 11 am – 12.30 pm
Corcoran Park
3334 20th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN  55407

This event is open to the public.

Deep Energy Retrofit Discussion

Martin Holladay at kicked off another fabulous subject on their blog entitled: Energy Efficiency Retrofits: Insulation or Solar Power?

As a certified Passive House Consultant, I am partial to the insulation. However, Martin makes a good point when comparing the two approaches. As the discussion goes, many points about this subject are being addressed. This is my reply:

Other selling points
by Tim Eian, TE Studio

Our firm has been working to get a viable DER business off the ground for the last two years. We practice in an extremely cold climate (MN). After the first year, we found that there were not enough selling points to overcome the first-day cost—and even calculations favoring a DER approach in the long run may not entice owners enough to go into debt—let alone their banks who cannot begin to understand what DER actually is and why it would create value and equity.

Year two has been more successful for us, as we have been focusing on more immediately tangible advantages of indoor environmental quality and health, as well as comfort (a big thing in a cold climate) and survivability. In addition, we are trying to single out the DER measures as Read more →

Today: Lecture at Duluth EDC

Duluth Energy and Design Conference

I am lecturing twice today at the 20th annual Duluth Energy Design Conference and Expo.

Wednesday, 2/24/2010
Passive House: 10.30 am to 12 pm – French River room
DERR: 1.00 pm to 2.30 pm – Ballroom LM

Duluth Energy Design Conference & Expo

Lecture at Duluth Energy Design Conference

I’ll be talking about Passive House and Deep Energy Reduction Retrofit at the Duluth Energy Design Conference on Wednesday, 2/24/2010

The Passive House talk starts at 10.30, the Deep Energy Reduction Retrofit talk at 1.00 pm.

Duluth Energy Design Conference & Expo

Duluth Energy and Design Conference

Duluth Entertainment &  Convention Center
Click on this link to contact the organizers about attending the event.

Lecture at next BEC MN Meeting

I’ll be speaking about and taking questions regarding Passive House and Deep Energy Reduction Retrofit at this month’s Building Enclosure Council meeting.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, 2/9/2010 from 4-6 pm.

For more info on the BEC, please visit their page: Building Enclosure Council – Minnesota Meeting

This is the venue:

AIA Minnesota
Board Room
International Market Square, Suite 54
275 Market Street
Minneapolis, MNMN 55405
Phone 612.338.6763

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.

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.

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.
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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.