A community of doers

As Wisconsin Technical College (WTC) officials prepared to break ground for La Crosse, Wisconsin’s first Passive House on October 3, a squirrel scolded onlookers and ran from a tree shedding first leaves into the wet street. In this established neighborhood of modest homes the scene was quiet, but expectant. Onlookers who’d wandered from jobs and appointments to witness the start-up waved and chatted, softly giddy about this project that’s about doing and connecting. I looked around to see neighbors, co-workers, organizers and educators who know how to collaborate, people who work with light spirits even though they know how long transformation can take.

WTC President Dr. Lee Rasch shared the college’s vision. Community partners told stories of how one action led to another and how visions are being fulfilled in unexpected ways. Educators beamed over opportunities students will have to learn at the building site.

Gold shovels bit the ground. Project designer Tim Eian, Fowler & Hammer staff, WTC leaders, students and the rest of us beamed from the street.

We stood there beaming on a soggy, fall morning because the project is visible hope. We all know we can do better using resources, communicating, designing and working together and this project is proof. Before walking off into my day, I connected with WTC Building Systems Technology Instructor Joshua VandeBerg. His class will come visit our project in November. Can’t wait!

PHOTO ABOVE: Building contractor, project designer and WTC building systems technology staff pose with students who will learn while helping to build a Passive House in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

PHOTO BELOW: Design of Passive Houses to be built on 24th Street




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


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