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 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.