Winter weather continues to threaten, but so far we’ve been able to avoid the worst and continue to make progress on a couple of exterior priorities…including the roof. Just before Thanksgiving, the roofing crew was back to finish all but one last panel on the house’s south side. It required a lot of detail-work to […]

Continue Reading »

Windows, step-by-step…

“Super-insulated houses require ultra-performing windows and doors.” That’s Passive House architect Christi Weber’s opening line regarding windows and doors on the “project overview” page of our Root River House site. “It would be pointless to work on the home’s envelope, only to cut a bunch of holes in it and fill them with low-quality, leaky […]

Continue Reading »

Sizing and placing windows using the Passive House Planning Package

The availability of not just good, but great, windows and doors has posed one of the greatest challenges for the growing Passive House (PH) movement in North America. As designers, builders, and owners, we take such care to provide a continuous layer of insulation and an extremely high level of air-tightness in the envelope that we almost donʼt want to poke any holes in […]

Continue Reading »

Windows ‘n pavers ‘n roofing – oh, my!

Dorothy may have been taken by “lions and tigers and bears – oh my!” as she traveled the yellow brick road toward Oz, but we’re not building on the yellow brick road and this isn’t Kansas. Nonetheless, I had one of those moments Wednesday that had me feeling like Dorothy must have felt, twisting my […]

Continue Reading »

Through the looking glass…sunny and 52º!

Today it’s overcast, gray and drizzly; but yesterday—YESTERDAY was one of those late-autumn days that we in the upper Midwest have learned to really appreciate and take full advantage of! And appreciate we did as it was delivery day for our European-style Zola windows and doors.

The three-week journey from the manufacturer in Poland—most of […]

Continue Reading »


It’s cold, but we’re thankful for a string of sunny, dry, slightly warmer work days. We’re hustling to take advantage of them before the weather shifts, but the next big tasks—like installing the layers of rigid insulation that support the first floor and getting that floor base in place, grading around the house, and installing […]

Continue Reading »

Piece by piece, like a big puzzle

We’ve spent a lot of time working at the house during the last two weeks. While there are dramatic things happening now and then, like blowing insulation or installing solar panels, most of the work is ordinary. The builders steadily, carefully get it done, knowing much of what they do may never be seen. They […]

Continue Reading »

Insulation: Round One

A week ago the crew from Expert Insulation put dense pack cellulose insulation in the exterior cavities of our house. It was an exciting day, and both John and I were there to watch the first of the two-part insulation process. Exciting, you wonder? Well, when you consider that the heating and cooling comfort of […]

Continue Reading »

A roof that will last

Our roof is going on slowly and we’re anxiously waiting to see it finished. Insulation went in last Thursday and though it’s covered, it’s not safe from moisture until the steel roof’s in place. When heavy, ominous looking clouds rolled in late Monday, I felt the urgency in a major way. Winter is nipping at our […]

Continue Reading »


Sunday afternoon we burned grass in the open areas south and east of our house and into the edges of the woods. It brought us one step closer to planting our prairie, which sounds pastoral but isn’t as simple as strewing seeds!

We started preparing in July, when the existing, non-native grass was sprayed. We […]

Continue Reading »


Lanesboro, Minnesota
Climate Zone 6 (cold/moist)
Latitude: 43° 44' 18'' N
Longitude: 91° 54' 48'' W

House Size

Net Treated Floor Area: 1,514 SF
Gross Square Footage (House only): 2,210 SF

Building Envelope

Roof: R-99
Wall: R-61
Ground: R-53

Windows & Doors

Glazing: U-0.10 BTU / hour / sq. ft.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): 0.48”
Frame: U-0.19 BTU / hour / sq. ft.

Modeled Performance

Specific Primary Energy Demand (Source Energy Demand): 12.1 kBTU / sq. ft. / year

Specific Space Heat Demand: 7.0 kBTU/sq. ft. / year

Peak Heating Load: 7,047 BTU / hour

Space Cooling Demand: 0.44 kBTU / sq. ft. / year

Peak Cooling Load: 3,625 BTU / hour

Pressure Test Goal: Whole House Air Changes Per Hour (ACH) = 0.4 ACH 50


Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.