Waldsee, the German Language Village of Concordia Language Villages near Bemidji, Minn., is home to a building that upholds the principles of sustainable living and environmental consciousness.
Waldsee BioHaus, the first certified passive house in North America, was built in 2005 and designed to consume as little energy as possible.
By harnessing solar and thermal energy, the BioHaus consumes about 80 percent less energy than a standard house in Minnesota.
The BioHaus features a slew of methods that help lower its consumption. For example, the south facing side has large windows, designed to let in as much light as possible. This allows the building to take in and store up heat, regulating the temperature inside.
“The passivhaus is like a thermos bottle,” Edwin Dehler-Seter, a dean at Waldsee, says. “You take energy in and you try to keep it there.”
The 5,000 square foot building rests in the slope of a hill at Waldsee. Its bright blue siding stands out from the turning leaves and forest green of the surrounding pine trees.
The BioHaus isn’t just an experiment in sustainable living. Villagers and counselors at Waldsee stay in the house, learning about its many functions and participating in hands-on activities.
One example of the way the BioHaus engages its residents is through the garden that grows on top of its roof. In the past, villagers have been able to tend to the garden, weeding and watering plants.
As a part of Concordia’s Faith, Reason and World Affairs Symposium, which focused on issues concerning sustainability, members of the campus community traveled to Waldsee to tour the BioHaus.
They spent the day learning about the building’s construction, how it functions and about the many methods by which the BioHaus is able to consume so little energy.
The Waldsee BioHaus has won multiple awards for its ingenuity and environmental consciousness including the 2007 Minnesota Environmental Initiative Award.