Wall Street Journal Talks Passive House with Tim McDonald of Onion Flats

Tim McDonald, a principal of the Philadelphia-based Onion Flats, made a surprise appearance in the Wall Street Journal this weekend. Tim spoke about Passive House, affordable housing, zero-carbon building, and some of the projects that Onion Flats has recently completed, most notably the Battery and Front Flats. Tim spoke about the latter at one of our first Global Passive House Happy Hours.

Despite appearing in a publication that is typically more concerned with profit margins than emissions, the overall tone of the piece is very positive. The journalist seemed eager to cast Passive House design as a viable methodology for sustainable construction. Meanwhile, Tim comes off more as a problem solver rather than a windmill chaser.

As an architect, if I’m not designing buildings that contribute no carbon to the environment then I’m being totally irresponsible. I might as well be designing buildings that sit on marshmallows.


“People don’t say, ‘I want to be known as an architect that has bathrooms in all our buildings.’ No, that’s just a given,” he told the Journal. “Being green, being sustainable, being carbon-neutral, should just be what it means to be a good architect.”

In addition to hearing from Tim, the journalist speaks with Mark Lyles of the New Buildings Institute in Portland, OR, and Robin Weissmann of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. If you want to check it out, click here (there may be a paywall).