Just In Time for Winter

Work is well underway on the super-efficient Rice Lake Farmhouse.  We designed this low-energy home with the owner’s vision of a modern interpretation of the iconic and durable Swedish Farmhouse. The house sits on a 6.5 acre old homestead, surrounded by working farms. The house is nearly closed in, awaiting the delivery of windows, and you can easily see the iconic farmhouse form. We’ll continue to post as construction proceeds.

GBA Guest Blog – vol. 4

South Elevation

WZA’s energy geek Elden Lindamood shares more about this own house on Green Building Advisor. Elden has been sharing the background and the foreground about the design, construction, performance and operation of his own low-energy house.

You can read his 4th (and the other 3) blog installment here:

Relative Humidity and Makeup Air at a Tight Minnesota House

More to Learn with the Esko Farmhouse


It is so gratifying to learn from our past work. Of course we learn from our mistakes, but we also learn from our successes. And we build on that success as we strive to improve and innovate, using our own creativity and knowledge as well as information gained from other professionals and industry developments.

The June/July 2016 issue of Fine Homebuilding (FHB#160) features an article about the Esko Farmhouse, first published in a special Energy Smart Homes Issue of Fine Homebuilding. We designed this passive solar, low-energy home in 2009.

The owners of the Esko Farmhouse have been carefully tracking their energy use since they occupied the house, and they graciously share their data with us every year. I wrote a follow-up letter to Fine Homebuilding, providing some updated information about the Esko project, and also sharing some insight into the progression of our work since we completed that project.

You can read the specifics here:

Passive House and Wagner Zaun are featured in Business North Newspaper

EskoFarmhouseSustainable building continues its move into the general public. In the June, 2016 issue of Business North, writer Kitty Mayo interviewed Rachel Wagner to learn more about the concepts of the Passive House building standard and energy efficient design in general. Rachel is a certified Passive House designer, and she was happy to share the principles and philosophy behind Passive House and her firm’s embrace of an integrated approach to reduce the environmental impact of building construction and operation.

Click here to read the full article: Passive House Movement Catching on Locally



606 Hovland Lane

The Arrowhead Builders Association’s Homes on Parade is underway.

Wagner Zaun is proud to have one of our designs showcased on the tour. It can be found at 606 Hovland Lane in Duluth and was built by J & R Sundberg Construction, Inc.

The house will be open weekdays from 5:30 -8:00 and weekends from 12:00 – 5:00 through May 15.

You can read about 606 Hovland & the rest of the homes on the tour in the 2016 Homes on Parade Magazine:




Beauty & Brains

The rough opening sill consists of two layers of 3/4-inch plywood.

Elden’s third guest blog post is up at the Green Building Advisor website: Installing Windows In a Minnesota House

Elden’s house is a testament to the high performance, building science-driven approach taken by our firm. It is also a testament to Elden’s massive talent and ability to blend form and function with beauty and balance. We are looking forward to seeing the finished product of his house very soon.

We at Wagner Zaun are so fortunate to have him on our team, contributing “beauty and brains” to our work.

Another gathering of energy geeks in Duluth…

edcLogoDuluth’s 26th annual Energy Design Conference happened this week. Over 500 professionals in the building design and construction industry gathered to learn and share ideas, experiences, and goals. This was my 20th year of attendance and, as always, it affirmed my belief that there is always more to learn.

My personal session attendance was pretty far-ranging and stretched my brain and my imagination. Some of my favorites: I learned about ongoing studies about the effects of weatherization on radon accumulation in homes; listened (and laughed) to varied and informative stories on deep energy retrofits; enjoyed a detailed case study on a Passive House home/living classroom; and picked up some tips about how to more effectively use our website and the web to reach out to potential clients.

Just as educational as the sessions is the opportunity for conversation with so many in my field. I am so appreciative and energized by the interactions I have in the course of a couple of days, over coffee or lunch or a beer or just standing in the hall … talking with builders, designers, educators, energy raters, and others.

If this sounds interesting to you, head over to the website to find the pdfs of many of the sessions given. And then consider coming to next year’s conference to get the best benefits!

I gave a talk at the conference, sharing some building science and our firm’s ongoing work with super-insulated walls. Confessing my years of applying theory to practice and practice to theory, and back again, the session was called “Banging my Head Against the (High Performance) Wall.”

You can view it right here: R Wagner EDC 2016 Banging my Head Against the (High Performance) Wall_SM


Building & Blogging – Part II

5 - Foundation Detail edited
Wagner Zaun architect Elden Lindamood is in the process of building his own home in Wrenshall, MN. He was invited to author a Guest Blog about his design and construction process and progress for the website Green Building Advisor (GBA).

The  second part of a blog series by architect Elden Lindamood about the design and construction of his own home has been posted on Green Building Advisor.


Building & Blogging


Wagner Zaun architect Elden Lindamood recently started construction on his own house in Wrenshall, MN. He was invited to author a Guest Blog about his design and construction process and progress for the website Green Building Advisor (GBA).

GBA is a wellspring of information for the environmentally minded and technically inclined folks – covering the “what, where, how, and why” about energy, buildings, and the environment. It is a must read for people serious about sustainability in housing. The website covers topics both broad and specific, and useful to professionals and amateurs alike.

The first installment is up and ready to view if you’d like to read about what Elden would do if the choices were only his to make. The blog can be found here:

Future installments will be made as construction proceeds.

Better Living Through Sunshine!

The MN Renewable Energy Society’s Annual Solar Tour is this Saturday, Oct 3!

Wagner Zaun Architecture is a proud sponsor of this year’s tour, and two of our projects will be open for public attendance. Thank you to our wonderful clients the Gooches near Alexandria and to the community of the Clair Nelson Community Center in Finland, for opening your buildings and hosting tours.