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Northfield, MN 2023

Sustainability Research & Education Services


At Precipitate, we believe that listening to and learning from people who live in energy efficient homes is critical to inform future design. We can learn from people in different ways from what we learn from energy models.

The Hillcrest Energy Engagement project, funded by a CERTs SEED Grant, engaged with the residents living in the Hillcrest community in a dialogue about their lived experience and perceptions while providing education about the energy efficiency and renewable energy features of their homes and asking for their reactions to these materials. From these conversations, the project team developed lessons learned that can inform future net-zero energy affordable housing development in a way that prioritizes the experiences of actual residents, a population most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

The Hillcrest Village project includes seventeen units of townhomes designed to passive house standards of energy efficiency that are all-electric and offset to net-zero energy use with on-site solar. One duplex is passive house certified through PHIUS+2018. While there is an assumption that these measures will positively impact the residents of this community, rarely are post-occupancy studies conducted that capture the perspectives of actual residents. These stories are critical for informing the design of future efficient homes.

The final report for this grant is available here.


  • Community Action Center of Northfield

  • Restorative and Mediation Practices (RAMP)


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