Good Energy Haus as a Case Study and Beacon for Sustainability

Good Energy Haus as a Case Study and Beacon for Sustainability

Tim Eian, an architectural engineer and climate action advocate based in Minnesota, has promoted and practiced Passive House design since his university studies in Germany in the 90’s. His involvement in Passive House efforts reaches back before the initial Passive House movement burgeoned in the U.S. After being certified as one of the first Passive House Consultants states side, Tim started TE Studio TE Studio with the intent of progressing the Passive House agenda. In 2008 his team received a Passive House commission, which went on to be the first certified Passive House in Wisconsin, named Passive House in the Woods. His latest passion project is the Good Energy Haus, which will be a “beacon of sustainability.” Tim describes his new house as, “influenced by my studies of Bauhaus and my fascination with clean, modern, and earthy architecture. It will be functional, beautiful, and sustainable.”

Passive House Education

Tim has many partners who are contributing to these projects including 475. One partner of particular interest is the City of Minneapolis. The City offered a small grant from their Innovative Cost Share Program to help in the construction of the Good Energy Haus. During the process of designing this new construction, Tim has done a detailed analysis of where Passive House designs run into issues with zoning, codes, inspections, and related issues. Like many jurisdictions across the country, he’s found that the City of Minneapolis is very interested in sustainable design but lacks the education and experience, to know and appreciate, the ins-and-outs of Passive House.

One struggle is language. As a relatively new movement in sustainability and housing in the US, Passive House is still a highly technical term itself and most government agencies, like the Public Health Department which Tim is in contact with, most often, can’t parse all the differences between the benefits of Passive House and those of other sustainability standards. There are few governing bodies that can make detailed distinctions and fewer that can actually enact policy to aid the Passive House movement.

Beyond the issues of education, the routinely slow pace of governmental problem-solving gears do not necessarily speed up for climate conscious buildings. On the plus side, Tim recognizes we are still at the beginning of the Passive House movement, which means there’s lots of room for the Passive House and high-performance building market to grow.


Passive House pioneer, Tim Eian Dipl.-Ing., CPCH [PHIUS], CPD [PHI]

Initial renderings of Good Energy Haus

Initial renderings of Good Energy Haus

The Good Energy Haus

Currently Tim lives out his dream of designing and constructing cutting edge Passive House designs, and plans to “walk the talk” by living in a Passive House of his own design. Critically, he wants Good Energy Haus to be a permanent demonstrator for the Passive House community and plans to use it to educate government officials, architects, and building professionals on the benefits of Passive House as well as details to achieve the standard.

The Good Energy Haus was pre-certified in 2019 and is planned to be finished early 2020, achieving the Passive House Plus Certification.

Tim used the Pro Clima system, with INTELLO PLUS inboard airtightness and smart vapor control and SOLITEX MENTO at exterior for a vapor open, airtight, WRB, and TESCON VANA at the seams. At window, door and pipe penetrations, continuity of the control layers was maintained with products like CONTEGA SOLIDO window tape and ROFLEX pipe gaskets. His experience with our products has been, “absolutely beneficial.” Tim says its important for him to rely on the pedigree of durable air and weather sealing products in the extremely demanding conditions presented by Minnesota’s freezing, dry winters and hot, humid summers.

Tim Eian makes sure to include an accessible, one floor, design and also uses durable earth- and people-friendly materials for maximized human comfort and sustainable landscaping. For an extra sustainable design the built environment features rain gardens.


Good Energy Haus details: I-Joist attach outboard of sheathing, which is then wrapped with SOLITEX MENTO WRB

Good Energy Haus details: Underneath the I-Joists, CONTEGA SOLIDO EXO-D is used as a weatherproof airtight connection from sheathing to foundation

Good Energy Haus details: Inside, TESCON VANA connects the vapor barrier to the interior stud wall.

Good Energy Haus details: INTELLO PLUS membrane is continuous inboard of the stud wall, providing airtightness and moisture control for highly insulated walls. Notice the conscious sequencing, to install the INTELLO PLUS before interior framing goes up. This avoid any complicated air barrier details to get around walls.

Good Energy Haus details: INTELLO PLUS membrane is continuous inboard of the stud wall, providing airtightness and moisture control for highly insulated walls. Notice the conscious sequencing, to install the INTELLO PLUS before interior framing goes up. This avoid any complicated air barrier details to get around walls.

Toward a Sustainable Future

What we learn from architects like Tim Eian, who work on the forefront of the built environment is that although there are many beliefs about the future of sustainability, building science remains agnostic. We have the means and the know-how to design our built environment to the highest degree of comfort and environmental standards, and therefore we have an obligation to do so. Tim reminds us of the need to educate decision-makers and community leaders, to learn about the built environment, and to build like the future depends on it.

Want More Details?

Download our free Smart Enclosure details, available in ebook (PDF) or CAD file form, by completing the form linked below.

DOWNLOAD SMART ENCLOSURE

Continue the conversation on social media

x