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 it by ship—culminated with a three-day cross-country rail trek from the port in New York to the Twin Cities, with an overnight transfer in Chicago en route. Once in Minnesota, Mason Dixon Intermodal trucked the 40’-long trailer to our site near Lanesboro.

Below, Jim, our MDI driver, backs the trailer into place next to the garage, cuts the security bolts and swings the doors open to reveal the Zola windows that we’ve been anxiously awaiting. (Click on the photos to see larger versions!)

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Not knowing exactly what we’d find when the doors were finally opened, we were all amazed at how the entire shipment took up only a fraction of the length of the trailer—and the windows were packed tight. We didn’t notice a single blemish, nick or gash in any of the frames as we carefully unwrapped and inspected them…truly an amazing feat given these windows were transported half way around the world! Below, Nancy sneaks a first peak at the far end of the trailer just before Jeff, JR and John begin the unwrapping and dismantling the braces that held the windows in place.


Once freed up, each unit was slowly inched off the pallets and carried or rolled to the open doors. The smaller ones were fairly easy two-man carries to the end of the trailer where they were carefully handed down to another set of hands to move into their temporary home in the garage. The medium-sized ones—weighing around a hundred pounds—required a bit more effort and three to four guys to safely move into their resting places.


It’s perhaps helpful to note that these aren’t your typical windows and doors. Passive house design requires units that meet a standard far beyond conventional residential windows and doors—the way they seal, the materials used in construction, and argon-filled triple-pane glass, or glazing, that all work together to better insulate and control solar gain. Because of that, these units are considerably thicker—and heavier—than the average house windows and doors built domestically. (More about the windows in a future post.)


As we worked our way through the assembly of windows and doors, what we thought would be the final five windows actually were only two—a double-window unit and a triple-window monster! It was at this point that we were grateful for having some PVC tubes to use as rollers which made moving from the rear of the trailer much more manageable. But we were even MORE grateful at this point to have so many hands helping out. Moving the double-window unit (approximately 6’ x 7’) required four guys on each side; it was at this point that we were really wondering just how we were going to manage the triple (several hundred pounds). After sizing things up, we decided the safest way was to remove two of the three windows (sashes)—and that lightened the load considerably. Still, the sheer size of this unit—approximately 9’ x 8’—was a challenge in and of itself, and too large to store in the garage. So we went with ‘plan B’ which was to march it around the garage…


…and then into the house through the opening where it will eventually be mounted.


And yes, it took the entire construction crew (Jeff, Troy and JR), our neighborly helpers (Bill, Phil, Robin, Keith, and Darryl), and Jim the driver, to get it done—but we did it! DSC04868DSC04869

It was an intense two hours that required lots of physical muscle and a fair amount of brain power as we had to make a lot of decisions on the fly. When all was said and done, we’d successfully moved 17 windows and doors safely into temporary storage where they’ll be protected while Jeff and his crew ready the house for installation in the weeks ahead.

MANY THANKS to the whole crew—we couldn’t have done it without you!!

Jim, Jeff, Keith (kneeling), Bill, JR, Robin, John (kneeling), Phil, Darryl, Troy–and Nancy (taking this picture!)


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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