Bright Haus #1:

A Milestone 15 Years in the Making

On August 14th, Minneapolis’ first certified Passive House affordable housing project was celebrated with a plaque mounting ceremony. Complete with triple glazed windows large enough to reap the rewards of solar heat gains, surrounding views, and plentiful daylight, Bright Haus #1 is a sign of what’s to come. And more will be coming, especially since Minneapolis’ 2020 Sustainability Policy was enacted, opening new pathways to fund climate-neutral affordable housing.

Before this policy was signed into law, the project was waiting in the wings for thirteen years. Planning started in 2008, during a collaboration between TE Studio principal Tim Delhey Eian and North Minneapolis’ not-for-profit “Appleseed House,” a group of community leaders and building professionals who aim to build affordable Passive House homes on vacant lots across the city. Tim volunteered design time to create the blueprints for Bright Haus #1, and after countless hours of education, outreach, and conversation with the Minneapolis City Council, policy was passed, funds were secured, and ground was broken.

The result of Tim’s design is a two-story, three-bedroom, 1.5 bath, 1,300 square-foot home. Fresh, filtered outside air is provided by a high-efficiency heat-recovery ventilation system. An electric cold-climate air-to-air heat pump system heats and cools the home. With a design that is at once compact and flexible, Bright Haus #1 creates a pleasant, affordable living space that delivers on performance, comfort, energy efficiency, resilience, and enjoyment. The static design means that it can easily be reproduced elsewhere in the city, and though its performance will vary a bit depending on location, building rotation, and on-site shading, it’s unique design ensures that all future iterations of Bright Haus #1 will meet or exceed the Passive House Institute’s Low Energy Building certification.

“This is quite possibly the most meaningful project I’ve done in my career because of what it stands for and what it is,” Tim said during the plaque ceremony. “We’ve shown now that climate neutrality in the urban core is real. It’s real on a budget.”

Bright Haus #1 might be the first of its kind in Minneapolis, but it won’t be the last. It’s proof positive that affordable, efficient Passive House communities are a near-future certainty, especially when local governments pass policies to lead the way.

Sustainable neighborhoods are for everyone, and they can start with you. Don’t miss our panel on Building Sustainable Communities with Yu Ann Tan from RMI and find out how Passive House can be a catalyst for community investment and health during our 2023 PHN Conference on October 5th. Register now!