das BioHaus: Sustainable Cultural Immersion at Concordia College

We've told you about solar and fair trade dorm rooms and bent your ear about green dorms. Concordia College's now in construction German Language Village will not only serve as an example of an eco-minded learning facility. Through innovative curriculum development, specifically around the topic of sustainable building design in Germany, das BioHaus, as it is known, will foster the transfer and exchange of environmental education across the Atlantic between the U.S. and Germany and back. It will also feature technologically cutting-edge building systems and components, ranking it as one of the most energy efficient buildings in the US.Designed by the Minneapolis branch of Intep, a German-based architectural and consulting company specializing in high-performance and sustainable construction, das BioHaus is being built to meet Germany's Passive House criteria for energy efficiency. The facility will require only 15% of the energy that a traditionally-constructed building is limited to under the Minnesota building code, and will boast R-70 walls and R-100 ceilings. Triple-glaze windows, high-performance doors, a geothermal radiant floor heating system, and solar thermal water heating are some additional features.

Another much touted aspect is the Awadukt Thermo air-ground heat exchange system developed by Rehau. I have not been able to find much of my own info about the system in English (only that seems to rely on PVC pipes, unfortunately), but here's what Bob Feeman's Smart Homeowner Magazine article says:

Because the house will be so tight, mechanical ventilation is essential. Fresh air drawn into the house will first move through a series of underground pipes. In the winter, the ground, which maintains a moderate temperature year-round, will preheat the air in the pipes and pre-cool it in the summer. The air will then be further warmed (or cooled) inside the house by a heat exchanger, using exhaust air.

We applaud this smart approach to raising awareness about European technologies, as well as energy efficiency in general. You can follow the construction process at the online Construction Journal. Via Smart Homeowner Magazine. :: das BioHaus