In the slope of a hill at Concordia’s German Language Village rests the Waldsee BioHaus, the first certified passive house in the United States.
Designed by a leading-edge German environmental firm, the BioHaus was built in 2005 out of low-impact materials and consumes 80 percent less energy than a standard building in the U.S.
The 12 solar panels on the roof power most of the building. Large windows to the south increase the amount of natural light inside. The triple-paned windows are thermal efficient and the walls are made with special insulation, keeping the house at a comfortable temperature year round.
“The Passivhaus is like a thermos bottle,” says Edwin “Eddy” Dehler-Seter, a dean at Waldsee. “You take energy in and you try to keep it there.”
The Biohaus has won the Minnesota Environmental Initiative Award and adheres to Germany’s Passivhaus Standard, the world’s strictest energy consumption standard for buildings.
At the Bemidji, Minn., facility, students of all ages can do sustainability fieldwork and study energy conservation. Whether it’s through cooking with magnets or heating showers with solar power, villagers at Waldsee can stay in the house and experience its cutting-edge innovations.