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  Mein Pony Kommt - A German Folk Song.


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"Snug and Tight" – a recent NY Times article about Passive Houses

Mika Gröndahl’s brief article highlights the benefits of passive houses and includes a visual representation of the main technologies such as insulation, passive house windows, and heat recovery ventilation which make it possible for passive houses even in cold climates to require little energy to heat. When the author writes “While they are increasingly popular in Germany and Scandinavia, passive houses have yet to make inroads in the United States” he fails to recognize that passive houses have indeed arrived in North America.

(To view the NY Times article from April 30, 2009 click Download Snug and Tight - Interactive Graphic - NYTimes.com

In 2003, the German architect and co-founder of the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) Katrin Klingenberg built the first residential passive house in Urbana, Ill using the specific practices, technologies, and energy modeling tools developed by PHI and Dr. Feist  to achieve Passive House standard. Currently approximately ten pioneering building projects in the United States are either close to achieving or have achieved the passive house standard. These projects are introduced in the recently published book: Homes for a changing Climate. Passive Houses in the U.S.  by Katrin Klingenberg, Mike Kernagis, and Mary James.   

BioHaus summer 08 023 One of the prime examples of passive houses in the United States is the Waldsee BioHaus Environmental Living Center at the German Language Village in Bemidji, Minnesota. Constructed in 2005-2006, Waldsee BioHaus is the first Florida + biohaus1-22-09 088 officially certified Passivhaus on this continent representing modern German architecture and sustainable building design. The BioHaus is both residence and environmental learning center for language enthusiasts who come to Waldsee, not only during our many summer programs, but also year round, to learn about German culture, the environment, renewable energy systems, and sustainable living while being immersed in the German language.  

Florida + biohaus1-22-09 038 Visitors to the BioHaus experience first hand the comfort of natural lighting andBioHaus, horselogging, MSP steve 3-10-08 001 solar warmth with 100% fresh air ventilation, as well as the beauty of modern sustainable architecture and cutting edge technology. All hot water is a product of direct sunlight, and the average ambient temperature of 70 degrees is a result of modern geothermal technology. 

Whether you are interested in learning the German language or discovering the technological advancements in green living German speaking Europe has to offer, Concordia Language Villages offers summer and year round opportunities for young and old to explore the Waldsee Biohaus.  Join us for one, two, or four weeks this summer, or visit us during one of our International Day celebrations in July and August when we offer free tours of the Biohaus.


BioHaus summer 08 004     Florida + biohaus1-22-09 056        Florida + biohaus1-22-09 048    Florida + biohaus1-22-09 043

For more information on how your child or your family, your group or your science class can discover Waldsee BioHaus click on one of the following links:

Summer programs   
Family programs
Yearround programs

Renewable Energy Program for science classes (6-10th grade) click Download BioHaus MS-HS science renewable energy program flyer with schedule.rev.5-6-09

BioHaus tours -  for scheduling call 218-556-1347 or email [email protected]

BioHaus brochure click Download BioHausbrochure09inone

Science Education at the Waldsee BioHaus Environmental Living Center

For information about our Waldsee summer program sessions, click on the link below:
Waldsee Program Sessions

Click here to register for your Waldsee session: Registration

Join us this summer at the German Language Village, Waldsee, for a busy and exciting adventure of BioHaus activities 8-20 013 German language and culture, science and environmental learning during our one-week, two-week, four-week credit and family programs.  Immerse yourself in the German language and experience German culture through environmental learning in North America’s first certified Passivhaus which challenges you and your friends, equipped with metric rulers, digital thermometers, a list of clues, and lots of energy to explore how the BioHaus works, how it generates energy, and why it consumes 85% less energy than a standard house in Minnesota. 

Homeschooling network Bemidji 008Through hands-on experiments, such as building your own models and testing them in the field, find out how the renewable energy systems like wind, solar hot water, solar photovoltaic, geothermal and hydrogen fuel cell work. Explore science concepts such as convection, the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen, and the production of electricity using renewable energy sources.

BioHaus activities 8-20 035 Come and help us reduce our carbon footprint along the path to becoming a carbon neutral village.  Together we will plant new trees, produce energy on our human-powered generator, and learn to live more sustainably.


You will learn how to build your own Sonnenofen (solar oven) from simple materials such as cardboard, BioHaus Schoolcraft-VoyHS-etc9-26-07 005 aluminum foil, paint and glass. And if the sun is shining, you get to field test your Sonnenofen and enjoy your culinary creation on the BioHaus deck.  Still hungry?  We invite you to prepare your own pizza or make your own German Kuchen in our brand new, state-of-the art BioHaus kitchen featuring Germany’s most energy efficient appliances from the Bosch-Siemens-Haushaltsgeräte corporation. 

This summer, our Grüne Welle villagers of Waldsee’s 4-week environmental credit program will live at the BioHaus activities St. Phillips Academy 10-08 022 BioHaus, measure and monitor its vital signs, and become intricately familiar with the Passivhaus concepts.  To test their understanding of a passive house’s thermal capacity, participants will build their own model passive house and attempt to keep an ice block cool inside the model house.  Model passive houses will line Waldsee’s Marktplatz.  As time and solar radiation attempt to melt the ice, villagers chart the effectiveness of their model homes.

Other experiments include constructing model wind generators, field testing them, and measuring the potential for wind generation at Waldsee.  Putting theory into practice, villagers will draft a proposal for wind generation and assess the most suitable location before presenting their findings to the Waldsee Village Planning Committee.

Aside from these extended projects, Grüne Welle villagers participate in many other activities such as going on a multi-day canoe trip on the Mississippi, biking, hiking, camping at the Grüne Welle wilderness site, conducting a lake study including the monitoring of the water quality, and participating in and hosting environmental simulations.  

Waldsee BioHaus  offers programs and activities for villagers of all ages and science and language skill levels.  Enrich your Waldsee German language experience by participating and/or living in the BioHaus.  

BioHaus activities 8-20 002   BioHaus activities 8-20 025   BioHaus activities St. Phillips Academy 10-08 009   BioHaus activities 8-20 015
For information about our Waldsee summer program sessions, click on the link below:
Waldsee Program Sessions

Click here to register for your Waldsee session: Registration

If you have any specific questions about BioHaus programs or the BioHaus itself, feel free to contact me via email: [email protected]

Hope to see you this summer at the BioHaus!

Bis bald,
BioHaus eddy

Tour the BioHaus to celebrate International Passive House Day


Concordia Language Villages is hosting an open house this weekend at one of America’s most energy efficient buildings, right here in the Bemidji area.  Please join us if you can and be sure to share this with others you know who might be interested to learn more about the BioHaus at the German Language Village!

On Friday November 7th from 3-6 p.m. and Saturday November 8th from 9 a.m. – noon an informational presentation on the Passive House standard and tours of the BioHaus will be offered. Come and see the first certified Passive House in the U.S. built by local contractors right here in Bemidji.

For further details, please view the attached flyer advertising Concordia Language Villages’ BioHaus Open House to celebrate International Passive House Days. This event is free and open to the public. 

 Download passive_house_open_house.pdf

For more information on the BioHaus, visit our web site at http://www.concordialanguagevillages.org/newsite/Languages/German/biohaus.php

Please include the BioHaus Open House in your event calendar, and do not hesitate to contact me for more information.

Thank you!

Edwin Dehler-Seter

Environmental Education & Natural Resource Management Specialist
Concordia Language Villages 

toll-free: 800.450.2214, ext. 8711

direct: 218.586.8711

cell: 218.556.1347


“Bringing Nature and the Environment into the German Classroom”

Goethe Institut Chicago together with Concordia Language Villages offers

A Workshop for German Teachers in the Midwest

May 09 - May 11, 2008

Biohaus_coverfor_stephan Waldsee BioHaus

Concordia Language Villages, 

Bemidji, Minnesota

Edwin Dehler-Seter – Concordia Language Villages, Bemidji, MN 

Laura Dehler-Seter – Concordia Language Villages, Bemidji, MN

Martin Graefe – Concordia Language Villages, Bemidji, MN


Dr. Christoph Veldhues – Goethe-Institut Chicago

Sabine Heklau – Goethe-Institut Chicago


Come join Chicago’s Goethe-Institut and the Concordia Language Villages in Bemidji, MN, for the exciting weekend seminar “Bringing Nature and the Environment into the German Classroom” this May. In pursuit of cultural competency, this seminar introduces teachers of German to Waldsee’s content-based, immersion approach to language learning and teaching. Time is scheduled for seminar participants to observe Waldsee staff convey alternative energy content through hands-on activities with high school participants on-site. Teachers will also partner with Waldsee staff and practice innovative teaching methods while co-teaching environmental activities applicable to classroom settings.

Biohaus_22708_018 Participants stay in the award winning, super energy-efficient Waldsee BioHaus; the latest addition to Waldsee’s authentic German Language Village showcasing modern German living and architecture.

For further information about Waldsee BioHaus: http://waldseebiohaus.typepad.com/

The number of participants is limited to 15. Participants receive transportation as well as accommodation (double room) and meals from the Goethe-Institut Chicago.



The registration deadline is April 04, 2008. Please send your application by email to:

Sabine Heklau

Language Consultant



150 N. Michigan   Ave. Suite 200

Chicago IL 60601

Tel. + 1 312-263-0472 Fax + 1 312-263-0476

www.goethe.de/chicago [email protected]


The registration fee of $ 25(non refundable) is due by April 04, 2008. Payment must be made by check. Please make check payable to the Goethe-Institut Chicago and send to our address above.


Participants can expect their confirmation (and more information) by April 07, 2008.

To see official workshop announcements at Goethe-Institut website go to:  http://www.goethe.de/ins/us/chi/lhr/sem/en2924214.htm

For workshop announcement in German click Download wohnen_und_lernen_29.01.2008.doc !

Environmental Immersion - Experiencing Alternative Energy, Hands-On

Dear Middle and High School Science Teachers,

I’m writing to you to let you know about an exciting educational opportunity for your 7th - 10th grade science class.

At Concordia College and the Language Villages, we have developed a science program which introduces students to energy conservation, CO2 emission issues and alternative energy production from renewable resources. Our hands-on, 1-day science program, Environmental Immersion – Experiencing Alternative Energy, Hands-on, lets students build, design, manipulate, test, analyze, and redesign renewable energy models such as solar hot water and solar photovoltaic systems, hydrogen fuel cell cars and wind generation systems in pursuit of optimizing their performance.

Playful engagement with technologies that are on the verge of becoming part of our daily life, a scientific approach coupled with thoughtful reflection on our interaction with and consumption of the natural resources is the recipe for a stimulating and educational experience for your science students. 

All this takes place at the award-winning BioHaus Environmental Living Center, one of the most energy efficient buildings in North America, right here in Bemidji, which your students will be able to explore and experience during their visit. For further information please see the documents below!

Download 1day_biohaus_middle_school_science_program_schedule.pdf

Download description_of_1day_biohaus_middle_school_science_program_28_final.pdf

What is even better, is the fact that we are able, thanks to a generous grant from Minnesota's NW Regional Clean Energy Resource Team (CERT’s), to offer this field trip without charge to the first 100 students who sign up to participate in the program during the last week of February, in March or April 2008. To register your class, please send me an email with the following information:

Name of school:   
Name of middle school science teacher:
Middle school science class grade level:
Number of students in class:
Preferred date option(s):
Estimated travel time to Bemidji:

Which schools and science classes are eligible to receive tuition free program participation? All 7th and 8th grade middle school science classes of schools located in the Northwest Region of Minnesota, which includes the following counties: Clay, Norman, Mahnomen, Clearwater, Beltrami, Polk, Red Lake, Pennington, Marshall, Kittson, Roseau and Lake in the Woods. At this point, only one class per school district is eligible.

Beyond the free of charge option, this program will be available to any science class (7th -10th grade) on school days during the school year. Special requests such as 2 day overnight or weekend overnight expanded science programs are also available upon request. For further info or rate inquiries, please contact Edwin Dehler-Seter at [email protected] or call 218-586-8711.

I hope that you will be able to join us with your class at the BioHaus Environmental Living Center for this exciting educational opportunity.


Edwin Dehler-Seter
Environmental Education / Natural Resource Management Specialist
Concordia Language Villages

Concordia College and the Language Villages prepare to offer new Middle School Science Immersion Programs at the BioHaus Environmental Living Center


November 6, 2007

Dear Science Teachers,
We are writing to middle school science teachers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North and South Biohaus01Dakota to introduce an exciting new science education  program focusing on energy conservation to be held at the Waldsee BioHaus Environmental Living Center in Bemidji, MN.  We’d very much like your feedback on our planned middle school science experience. Does it look appealing to you and your science class?  Do you think your students could benefit from our hands-on, experiential science immersion program?  Is there a need for such a program?  Which program option sounds most appealing and most realistic to you and your class?

We have attached a description of our proposed program and created a short questionnaire to obtain your perspective as a science teacher on our program and its feasibility.  Your opinion is important to us, and we’d greatly appreciate your participation and feedback on this survey which can be downloaded below. Please return your survey by email to: [email protected] or to the address listed below. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Additionally, we are planning to offer a one-day science teachers workshop on our new middle school science immersion program in 2008. This will give you a chance to experience the activities and the opportunity to discuss with fellow teachers on how to best adapt and incorporate the BioHaus experience into your classroom. Let us know if this sounds interesting to you.


Edwin Dehler-Seter
Environmental Education/ Natural Resource Management Specialist
Concordia Language Villages
8659 Thorsonveien NE
Bemidji, MN 56601

[email protected]

Office:  218-586-8711      Cell:  218-556-1347     Fax: 218-586-8713

- Download program_description_nov07web.doc    
- Download different_options.doc
- Download teacher_survey_web.doc

Waldsee BioHaus Wins Minnesota Environmental Intitiative Award

The Environmental Initiative Awards are presented annually to projects that exemplify MEI's commitment to partnership and environmental outcomes. This year, new categories were designed to reflect and incorporate the wide range of innovative and collaborative environmental partnerships across Minnesota.”

On Thursday, May 17, 2007, the MEI Awards ceremony was held at the Nicolet Island Pavilion in Minneapolis.   A record number of 360 participants including the fifteen finalists for the five categories Air Quality and Climate Protection, Green Building and Development, Environmental Education, Green Business and Environmental Management, and Natural Resource Protection along with representatives from Minnesota businesses, architecture and law firms, environmental organizations and many others gathered to witness the announcement of the winners.

Mei_award_ceremony_2_2 Waldsee BioHaus won the award in the category Air Quality and Climate Protection. The presenters of the award described the BioHaus  “ as a unique Environmental Living Center for the Concordia Language Villages in Bemidji, Minnesota. The BioHaus features cutting edge approaches to energy conservation and innovations in sustainable building design. This approach resulted in a dramatic reduction in energy consumption, as well as the showcasing of a green roof system and low-emission building products such as paints, flooring materials, and cabinetry.”


Cutting Edge Building Continues to Draw Architectural Interest



Waldsee, Bemidji. 10:30 AM Saturday morning: The first cars with students and their teachers from North Dakota State University arrive at the Gasthof for a 3 hour in-depth tour of the cutting edge, modern Passivhaus. Today is the second time that professors of architecture at NDSU, Darryl Booker and Joan Vorderbrueggen, have brought 4th and 5th year architecture students to the BioHaus.

Biohaus_tour_pics_120206_040Students and teachers discover first-hand how integrated planning and design makes it possible to build to the strict Passivhaus Standard on energy consumption while creating a comfortable, multi-purpose living space with aesthetic architecture and a healthy living environment.
The tour included an hour long presentation on the basics of the Passivhaus Standard and the construction process of the BioHaus, followed by a culturally authentic Viennese Mittagessen served at Waldsee’s Gasthof zum goldenen Hirschen.


During the extensive tour of the BioHaus the visitors gained much insight into the complexity of designing for energy conservation. Participants were also able to check on the building’s vital signs through the use of the BioHaus’ elaborate monitoring system which measures, collects and graphs the buildings performance on a continuous basis.


What a smart idea to offer architectural students the opportunity to experience the future right now?  Just a day later, in Sunday’s edition(3-25-07) of the Minneapolis Star Tribune readers were drawn to a multi-page article, “Home Sweet Home 2037”, discussing what future homes and lifestyle might look like in the year 2037. The described futuristic building features many energy efficient components, the use of renewable energy sources such as the ground source heat and solar thermal hot water system as well as green roof systems which the BioHaus already incorporates into its design. In fact the BioHaus and its architect, Stephan Tanner, are noted in the article as already showcasing a house of the future!

“Minnesota raises the bar on renewable energy use,”reports Associated Press. Concordia Language Villages’ Waldsee BioHaus Raises the Bar on Energy Conservation

What an exciting time to see Minnesota become the national leader on the use of renewable energy sources for generating electricity! The recently passed legislation of the Renewable Electricity Standard commits Minnesota’s utilities and municipal power consortiums to produce 25% of retail electricity from renewable energy sources by the year 2025. Xcel Energy Inc., the largest energy producer in the state delivering half of Minnesota’s electricity, will be required to provide even more, namely 30% of their energy production from renewable sources such as hydroelectric, wind and solar by 2020.

While replacing fossil fuel-produced energy with electricity from renewable sources is an important step in the fight against global warming, energy conservation is the first step in significantly reducing the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. This becomes obvious when we compare the average continuous energy consumption per capita of different nations as indicated in Novatlantis’ vision of a 2000-Watt Society in the publication Smarter Living.  Currently, Americans at 12,000 Watt per capita of continuous energy use and Europeans at 6,000 Watt are consuming many times the energy than the rest of the world (Africa 500 Watt, China 800 Watt) while the average global per capita continuous energy use equals 2000 Watt.  The vision of the 2000-Watt-Society allows for the comparison between industrialized and developing nations and a gradual balancing of the differences, paving the way to a healthy living standard for all people.

Biohaus_pics_11206_002edited According to Michael Noble, the executive director of Fresh Energy, Minnesota’s households annually consume approximately 25% of the state’s electricity.  In the year 2020, that amount will be equal to the energy mix from renewable sources. Therefore, it is only wise to focus our efforts now on reducing the amount of energy our buildings consume. If Minnesota implements a higher energy-efficient building code, it will be poised as a national leader in energy conservation. Waldsee BioHaus, case in point right here in Minnesota, sets a new standard. 

Concordia Language Villages in Bemidji, Minnesota is raising the bar on energy conservation in theGer_biohaus_roof_6701 sustainable building trade with its new Waldsee BioHaus, a showcase example on how to reduce energy consumption in leaps, not just incremental steps. The multi-use 5000 sq. ft. building, designed by the Swiss-born architect Stephan Tanner from Minneapolis, was built according to Germany’s Passivhaus Standard (an energy conservation and renewable energy use standard). It achieves an 85% reduction in the building’s energy consumption while increasing user comfort and providing maximum air quality. Highly insulated buildings with an airtight envelope and thermally Biohaus_raugeo_installation_61006_057 well performing windows (R-8) do not need conventional heating systems, but instead use a ground source heat pump and a ventilation system with a highly effective (80% or higher) air-to-air heat recovery system to heat the building while supplying 100% fresh air.   

The fact that local Bemidji contractors constructed the Waldsee BioHaus using 85-90% locallyBiohaus_pics_11206_018_1 available building materials, shows that super  energy-efficient houses can be built right now and right here in Minnesota, where hot summers and cold winters typically require large amounts of energy for cooling and heating.

If this sparks your interest and makes you want to find out more about the BioHaus and the concepts behind it, we encourage you to join us for our 2nd Annual North American Passive House Symposium this October at the Waldsee BioHaus. For further details on the symposium, check this website for postings in April. Meanwhile, you can learn more about the BioHaus by visiting the link to our detailed construction journal.

Feel free to post your comments!

Awadukt_and_pine_volunteers_037 Biohaus_pics_11206_021 Biohaus_green_roof_pics_001 Ger_biohaus_deck_6729

Waldsee BioHaus inspires participants of German Family Fun Weekend to think “nachhaltiges Bauen” (sustainable building)

Concordia Language Villages’ annual Family Fun Weekend came to a closure on Presidents Day forBiohaus_pics_11206_026edited_1 the parents and their children who participated in a 3-day Immersion adventure in either the French, Spanish, Finnish or German language. This year’s theme at Waldsee, the German Language Village, was Natur, a great fit for connecting to Waldsee’s new BioHaus Environmental Living Center which was designed to integrate into its natural environment and to showcase nachhaltiges Bauen with emphasis on reducing energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. 

Energy and Deutsches_familienfest_07_part_b_016excitement were in the air as the families from as far as Lincoln, Nebraska and Kansas City, MO met families from Wisconsin, North Dakota, the Twin Cities and Bemidji for a weekend of GDeutsches_familienfest_07_part_a_054_1 erman language, culture, food and deutsche Gemütlichkeit. With activities ranging from high energy consumption such as Fußballspielen im Schnee, Schlittenfahren, Eisstockschießen auf dem See, Eisskulpturen machen auf dem Marktplatz to energy conserving such as Fingermalerei, Scherenschnitte und Bauernmalerei im Gasthof to energy producing activities such as Backen in der Waldseebäckerei, participants ranging from the toddlers to adults found engaging, and fun-filled activities.

Touring and exploring the Waldsee BioHaus and learning about its super low energy consumption and use of renewable energy sources was a highlight for many participants who engaged in a lively Biohaus_tour_pics_120206_001 discussion on the importance of highly energy-efficient buildings. “Jetzt wo ich das BioHaus gesehen habe, möchte ich auch ein Passivhaus“ (Now that I have seen the BioHaus, I want a Passivhaus for myself), said a female participant.  Inspired by the modern, comfortable living space and the performance of the BioHaus, visible on the building’s elaborate monitoring system, another participant announced to the rest of the group: “In fact, having experienced the BioHaus, I am thinking about building a new home for which I seriously consider insulating my walls, roof and floor slab a lot more than what is standard, installing better windows and using a ground source heat pump to heat my new home to dramatically reduce my heating and cooling costs”.

Deutsches_familienfest_07_part_b_001 At the BioHaus Environmental Living Center learning about science is about all doing it.  While the 8-10 year olds played intensely with a sun-earth-moon simulation model at the BioHaus to figure out the cycles of the moon, middleBiohaus_pics_and_schoolcraft_expedition_ school aged participants discovered the basics of electricity, photovoltaics, convection, and thermal energy transfer by experimenting with our solar-thermal hot water and photovoltaic models.

Waldsee’s Village Weekends happening throughout the school year, offer students of German and their teachers a high energy immersion program not only in the German language Biohaus_pics_and_schoolcraft_expedition__1 culture but also in the science of renewable energy sources and the environment. Students get to live in the BioHaus and experience first hand the comfort, the science and the culture that can be felt and discovered in this cutting edge, energy-efficient Passivhaus and showcase representing modern German living.

And, we are working on developing special programs for middle school students and their science teachers!  When will you participate in a German language program to discover the magic of the Waldsee BioHaus