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Waldsee BioHaus

North America's first certified Passive House building—a milestone for the standard and the country

Designed in 2005 by Intep principal and registered architect Stephan Tanner for Concordia College's German Language camp "Waldsee", the BioHaus Environmental Living Center marks ground zero for Passive House in the Americas. Certified as the first of its kind on the continent, it is a beacon of sustainability and a landmark for the green building movement in the United States.


Environmental Living Center

Since its completion in 2006, this school building has been host to many Concordia College Language Village students and their teachers on the German-language “Waldsee” campus near Bemidji, Minnesota. BioHaus is both residence and environmental living center, offering sleeping room for 28 people, as well as bathroom facilities, a small apartment, two schoolrooms, and a Passive House systems demonstration space. Students are immersed in the German language and culture, while learning about the environment, renewable energy systems and sustainable living.


Designed to Perform

Visitors to the BioHaus experience first hand the comfort of natural lighting and passive solar heat gains, as well as 100% fresh air ventilation in an environment that demonstrates the beauty of modern sustainable architecture and cutting edge technology. Hot water is made from sunlight; the average indoor temperature of 70 degrees is a result of a highly insulated and airtight building shell with high-performance windows from Germany.

Key Features
  • First certified Passive House in North America

  • Passive House performance and passive solar design in an extreme cold climate zone

  • Very airtight building envelope (0.18 ACH50)

  • Super insulated walls with vacuum insulated panel insulation (VIPs)

  • German-made triple-pane high-performance windows with insulated frames

  • Ground-source heat pump for heating and cooling

  • Balanced heat-recovery ventilation with geothermal pre-heater/chiller (earth tube, or ground-source heat exchanger)

  • Solar thermal domestic hot water system

  • PV-ready electrical system

  • “Green” building materials throughout

Project Details
  • Client: Concordia College

  • Design: Stephan Tanner, Intep

  • Mechanical: Intep & Integrale Planung GmbH, Rehau

  • Structural: David Morris, P.E.

  • Construction: Zeta Construction

  • Project: 2005-2006


  • Green Building of the Year Award

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