Progress on the North Shore

Site clearing started in mid-July on a picturesque site along the north shore of Lake Superior and work has progressed nicely despite less than ideal weather for most of the Fall. Trust shared between architect, client and pre-selected contractor has allowed the project to move smoothly throughout the construction phase and has us on track for a mid-January completion date.

Check back for more interior photos as the this project approaches completion.

Coming Soon to a Big Lake near you!

Construction has started on a new private residence on the North Shore of Lake Superior.

The design program was to create a unique, modern home that would maximize views to the Lake, while also providing a calm, relaxing & restorative environment.

The home will comfortably weather the lake exposure and the extremes of our Northern MN location. The large glass areas were mitigated with the use of tri-pane, fiberglass windows. The flat roof assembly contains tapered rigid insulation with an average R value of 62. The thermally robust walls are a hybrid pairing of a 2×6 bearing wall with dense pack cellulose and 4” exterior nail base (SIP) panels for a combined R value of 36.

The home will have LED lighting throughout and will be heated via a high efficiency condensing boiler with in-floor heat on the main level and European style panel radiators on the 2nd level.

Other design features include a custom steel staircase and a “swiss army” entry storage, TV and fireplace room divider.

Check back for on-going progress notes and construction photos.


Duluth is Tapping Into Its Creative Side

We help creatives create their workplace environment. WZA is proud to have been the office design partner for Duluth based marketing companies Giant Voices, Hailey Sault and Aimclear.

Check out this piece in Twin Cities Business: How Duluth is tapping into its Creative Side

Alworth Peace & Justice Series Lecture and Talk Back Event

Please join us for a lecture by Andrew Hoffman on March 20 – Environmental Stewardship as a Personal Calling.

And follow that with a Talk Back Event on Environmental Stewardship hosted by WZA’s Rachel Wagner at 4119 Tower Hall on the College of St. Scholastica campus on Wednesday, March 21 at 7 PM.


WZA is Hiring!

If you know any talented CAD technicians who would have an interest in working with us, please share!

Wagner Zaun Job posting – CAD Technician

Better Buildings: Better Business

On Friday, Elden will be a panelist at the closing plenary session of the Better Business, Better Buildings conference in the Wisconsin Dells. He will contribute to a conversation about how regional developers, builders, architects, and consultants are redefining quality and high performance in their projects.

Almost time for the Annual Geek-out!





The 2018 Duluth Energy Design Conference will be held Feb. 19-21.

This annual event features local and national experts in resource-efficient buildings, with a focus on housing. If you’ve never attended, this is a great year to start.

The conference will kick-off with a keynote session by Peter Yost, the Vice-President of Building Performance at Building Green.

Keeping it local, WZA’s Rachel Wagner and Elden Lindamood will each present a session this year.

We hope to see you there!

A likely spirited debate within the greater discussion of sustainability:

Author Gwyneth Cravens will give a talk entitled “The Truth about Nuclear Energy”

Tuesday, October 24th at 7:30 pm at Mitchell Auditorium, The College of St. Scholastica


Whatever your position on the topic of nuclear energy, we encourage your attendance at this lecture, the second of the season in the Alworth Center for Peace and Justice lecture series.


It’s Back to School Time!

This October 12 Rachel Wagner will join Pat Huelman and Michael Resech to present a full-day continuing education seminar hosted by MN Green Path.


Follow the link for more information:


(HERS) Score! The Rice Lake Farmhouse is complete and Certified Low Energy!

We just received a HERS score of 34 for this new house in Wisconsin with no renewable energy systems (yet). I couldn’t be happier about this, for a couple reasons. First, of course, is the fact that this passive solar designed, super-insulated home is predicted to use 66% less energy than a new home built to current WI code would use. And second, because the HERS score provided through the Wisconsin Focus on Energy Program confirms the estimations of our own in house energy modeling efforts.

So, for those of you (still) reading who are not energy geeks, you may be wondering what a HERS rating is, and why all the fuss? The HERS index is a nationally recognized rating system for single family homes that “rates” the predicted energy consumption of a new home relative to a baseline home (of the same design in the same location). A HERS score is obtained with a third party rater, who not only enters the building design and systems specifications into an energy model, but also makes periodic site visits during construction to verify the levels and quality of insulation, assembly details, products used, and air tightness of the building.

The lower the HERS score, the lower the predicted energy consumption of the home. A HERS score of zero indicates a home expected to be net zero energy (like the Echo Lake Home we designed, featured in Green Building Advisor). A score of 100 would indicate a home built to the current energy code. A score higher than 100 indicates a home less efficient than a new home built to code.

Our friends at Unity Homes in New Hampshire wrote a great blog piece explaining the HERS rating system:

Energy Ratings and Alphabet Soup: HERS, LEED, ZERH and more

We’ll write more in another post about the Rice Lake Farmhouse, once the owner has finished decorating and lets me back in for final photographs. The house isn’t just low energy, it is also a beautiful, modern home that takes its inspiration from the tradition of the Swedish farmhouse.

In the meantime, enjoy this photo taken on June 21, the Summer solstice. And note the shading across the south facing windows!