Minneapolis, MN  2018

Architect & Certified Passive House Consultant

Katie and Peter are a car-free couple working in the energy sector in Minneapolis. When it came time to design their dream home, they knew they wanted it to be highly energy-efficient, powered entirely by on-site solar, and as low in embodied carbon as possible. As the design evolved, that led to the decision to build a strawbale home that also employed passive strategies and pursued PHIUS+ 2018 compliance as much as possible.

Precipitate collaborated heavily throughout the design process with our client and design team. This integrative approach was crucial to achieving high performance while minimizing design time and difficulties during construction. It was a particular challenge to design with both passive house and strawbale construction best practices, but ultimately pursuing both strategies led to a better overall building. The design team also worked to minimize the use of petroleum products where long-term safety and stability did not demand alternatives. Adding to the challenge, this home will replace a garage on a lot with an existing triplex, requiring the project to navigate the Planned Development Review and Cluster Development process. The project was ultimately a study of the connections between operational and embodied energy, operational and embodied carbon, and why building materials matter.

The Uptown Strawhouse will begin construction in fall 2021 and include an opportunity to join in a community strawbale build. Follow the design/build process - and sign up to join the build - at Katie & Peter's blog Uptown Strawhouse: Strohhaus am Radlweg.

High Performance Elements

  • Simple Massing

  • Passive solar orientation

  • Glazing and shading elements optimized for passive heating, cooling, daylight, and views

  • Triple-pane windows

  • 18" deep strawbale and earthen plaster walls

  • R60+ roof

  • Air-tight construction

  • Heat recovery

  • Cold climate heat pump

  • Roof mounted solar array

Collaborators