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.

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  • j says:

    Thanks to both Tim and Stephan for sharing information and their experience.
    My interest in Passive House at this point is to understand in further detail the mechanical system requirements of this approach and the cost and construction detail implications; so more of the technical aspects.
    I am also interested in maybe purchasing and learning how to use the PH energy modeling software.
    If I located the appropriate resources I would be willing to present my homework on PH to the larger interest group to take some of the responsibility off of Tim’s and Stephan’s hands for directing the interest’s group conversation.
    Perhaps presentations by interest group members might be a way to structure the meetings and ensure we are developing our understanding of Passive House principles and requirements and of correct building practices at large.

  • Megan Hoye says:

    Thank you Tim for taking the time and initiative to establish an interest group for the PH. I thought our first meeting was successful in exposing us all to the diversity of interested parties and their backgrounds.

    I agree with J’s suggestions of using interest groups to help drive the learning momentum; whether it is learning more about Thermal Bridges, PH Software, building materials in conjunction with one another, how systems work together, etc. I also feel most interested in learning more about the technical side of the PH. I think it is the best way to start the learning and teaching process. From this, other theoretical dialogues can and will emerge.

    I think that an interest group or two may be able to emerge before the next meeting by emailing to those that came to the first meeting to see what topics or concerns peek the most interest. From there, perhaps these groups can come to the next meeting with more specific questions and thus more specific answers can be given. Another thought is that we, the less knowledgeable PH group members, may be helped by having a list of Passive House resources, or other related resources, that we can look to as reliable and relevant – research that otherwise may take a bit of trial and error when you are unfamiliar with a topic.

    One last thought for the future: it may be interesting to have a 2-3 hour charette where a simple PH design is brought through some of the common challenges found in Schematic Design and Design Development phases. This might be a good what to teach many things. At what point in the future this is appropriate, I am not yet sure.

    Thanks again Tim and Stephan for your time and efforts.

  • Nils Davis says:

    Tim – I’m very excited to be discovering your site! I am starting to work in the passive house area as well (check out my blog for a series on Zero Net Energy homes – passive houses are a linchpin for achieving that). An architect friend and I are working on getting passive houses called out as a design option worthy of incentives in the Menlo Park (CA) Climate Action Plan.

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