The Passive House in the Woods Team

The Passive House in the Woods team

Passive House in the Woods is a collaborative effort. Made possible by an extremely generous and progressive client,  Tim Delhey Eian of TE Studio was approached in late 2008 to design a carbon neutral Passive House on a property in the Town of Hudson, Wisconsin. An article in the Star Tribune had alerted the client to the Passive House concept. He picked up a copy of “Homes for a Changing Climate”, in which he found Tim’s name. The rest is history…

Tim  took on the challenge. As a certified Passive House™ consultant he knew that a conservation first approach was most likely to succeed with the ambitious goal of carbon neutral operation. In March of 2009, design work began in earnest. Tim suggested an integrated design approach to the client, who echoed the notion of getting everybody to the table right away, to make sure the house gets done right.

Tim Eian at the Passive House in the Woods, September 2010

Since 2007, Tim has been talking with Sean Morrissey of Morr Construction about building a Passive House building. Sean and Tim had collaborated on the Appleseed project—an affordable in-fill housing project for Minneapolis’ North side—since 2008. Their combined passion for highly efficient building envelopes was subject of countless hours of design and conversation. When the client approached Tim about a Passive House, he in turn suggested to bring Sean in right away, to help with cost control and contractor insight for the project. With little to no precedent in extremely cold climates like ours, all parties agreed that this would become somewhat of a pilot project. Sean and his crew have been working on the project since the beginning. They are the general contractors, and in addition help facilitate sponsorship and Minnesota Green Star certification. The construction site is being led by Josh Crenshaw.

After a review of the building lot, it became clear that TE Studio needed to consult with a landscape architect in order to work with the natural beauty and challenges of this steeply sloping piece of land. Also through the MiniAppleseed Association and the Appleseed project, Tim had met Laurie McRostie, a sustainably-minded Minneapolis based landscape architect. Laurie was the second person to join the project team. She initially helped with the location of the building, and the creation of the erosion control strategies. Since then, she’s been helping with hardscape, softscape, and planting schemes. She is now consulting with the client on permaculture.

As soon as the first design sketches were done, Tim started work with long-time colleague and structural engineer Eric Bunkers at Mattson MacDonald Young. Eric and his co-worker Shannon Pierce have been working on the project ever since and supplied all the structural engineering details and specifications.

A number of valuable consultants came on board throughout the design process. Carol Chaffee of Carol Chaffee and Associates was tasked to help with an energy efficient lighting scheme, whereas Steve Doggett and Bob Brunjes of Built Environments helped with hygrothermal analysis and plan review—a process which proved invaluable and ultimately helped lock in the wall and roof assemblies.

Christine Frisk of InUnison Design came on board in the late summer of 2009 to assist the client with interior design questions. She and her team are also helping with environmentally sensible choices for products and finishes all through the house.

Later in 2009, Craig Tarr and Jon Richter of Energy Concepts were hired to help with renewable systems. They are designing and supplying photovoltaic and a solar thermal domestic hot water system for the house.

Throughout the entire process the team had help from Stephan Tanner of Peak Building Products. Not only did he design the first certified Passive House building in the U.S.—the Biohaus— but his company also supplies North America with invaluable imported product like Optiwin windows, Warema shading devices, and Luefta ventilation machines that make Passive House possible. In addition, Stephan is a business partner of Intep – Integrated Planning, a joint venture with Tim Delhey Eian that offers high-performance design and consulting to commercial clients in North America.