Ecological Construction Symposium

October 22-24 2004
hosted by the Civitas Design Center
122 W. Main St. in Downtown Urbana, IL

In its second year, the Ecological Construction Symposium, was a forum for presenting design projects which currently exist, as well as proposals for future projects which were yet to be designed. We aimed to cross the language boundaries between policy-makers, architects, landscapers, and developers. We talked about projects in Permaculture, Passive Architecture, and Public Policy, both in formal presentations and discussions.

Sponsoring projects include:

Urbana Permaculture Project
Ecological Construction Laboratory: local non-profit promoting Passive Architecture Prototype
Passive House Institute: highly energy efficient systems design, Germany (click the “English” link)
School for Designing a Society
Civitas: a University of Illinois Community Design Center in downtown Urbana. Our host site!
City of Urbana supported this event


Read about the speakers, their presentations, and the schedule of events.

Ecological Construction Symposium
Speakers and Blurbs

Katrin Klingenberg – President, co-founder, Ecological Construction Laboratory; architect, builder, first Passive House in Urbana, IL; visiting professor, School of Architecture, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Rob Scott – Organizer, Urbana Permaculture Project; organizer/teacher at the School for Designing a Society.

Danielle Chynoweth – Alderwoman, City of Urbana; organizer/teacher, School for Designing a Society.

Mark Enslin – Composer; founder, organizer/teacher School for Designing a Society.

Witta Ebel – Co-founder, Passive House Institute in Germany.

Xtn Hansen – Founder, Pleasure Struggle; constructor of alternatives.

Michael Todd McCulley, AIA – Associate Dean, College of Fine and Applied Arts, UIUC.

Tomakin ArchambaultRocky Mountains Institute Energy & Resources Team.

Robert Benson GablerMichael Braungart’s Office.

Ecological Construction Symposium

“Building the Passive House in Urbana”
Katrin Klingenberg, Ecological Construction Laboratory
This talk focused on the construction detail involved in building the first Passive House in Urbana.

“Passive Architecture in a Permaculture Look”
Rob Scott, Urbana Permaculture Project
Permaculture is a field of design guided by shared criteria, and thus Passive Architecture is described not in reference to any particular standard, but as a domain of design, oriented by a set of criteria. These criteria are
applicable not only to buildings, but also landscape design, the design of transportation systems, allocation of goods, and any other material system — including the material design of a society as a whole.

“Passive Houses in Europe – Energy Efficiency as smart Energy Source”
Dr. Wolfgang Feist, Passive House Institute
presented by Witta Ebel, Passive House Institute

Witta presented the science and engineering of the Passive House Energy Standard, as well as the social history of the Passive House movement in Europe. Passive houses are super-insulated buildings are united by a common energy standard; they have upped the ante on energy-efficiency housing throughout Europe. CEPHEUS (Cost Efficient Passive Houses as European Standards), a daughter project, has built hundreds of Passive Houses in half a dozen countries throughout Europe.

“Prospects for Ecological Construction in the City of Urbana”
Danielle Chynoweth, Urbana City Council
Rob Scott, Urbana Permaculture Project
This was a small introductory presentation followed by a design charette co-facilitated by Danielle and Rob. Danielle broke us into design troupes and we waltzed the site generating proposals, before reporting back over lunch. This was an exercise in “walking the walk”.

“Design and the Gesundheit Institute”
Mark Enslin, School for Designing a Society
This presentation raised the broader issue of design, and the function of a medium in bringing about social change. The Gesundheit Institute was used as a reference, a project using medicine as a vehicle for social change. Emphasis was on the medium of architecture as a vehicle for social change.

“Building Community as we Build the Buildings for Community”
Xtn Hansen, Pleasure Struggle
This was a blank slide show with lots of descriptive language.

What does the building of a structure offer those who are building it?
What environments are created and who gets to exist there?
Looking micro-climates in building sites.

“The 70’s Pioneer Projects: Super Insulated Homes by the Small Homes Council”
Michael Todd McCulley, AIA Associate Dean, College of Fine and Applied Arts, UIUC
In this presentation, the attempts at super-insulated homes from the 1970s
were traced through the various stages of development, with slides and data
on the buildings in nearby Champaign, IL. Participants in the symposium got a
chance to visit the super insulated houses after learning about their

“Latest Strategies for the Building Industry:
Sustainable Materials Recommendations and Energy Efficiency”
Tomakin Archambault, Rocky Mountains Institute
Presentation of Rocky Mountain Institute’s energy efficiency research.

“Cradle to Cradle: Putting Eco-Effectiveness into Practice”
Robert Benson Gabler, Michael Braungart’s Office

A presentation on sustainable economy.
Robert Benson Gabler’s lectureship is supported by
the Loredo Taft Lectureship on Art Fund / College of Fine and Applied Arts

Ecological Construction Symposium
Schedule of Events

All events were hosted at Civitas Design Center in downtown Urbana

Friday, October 22, 2004

6pm Dinner Reception
8pm Problem Jostle – get to know the other participants at the symposium while choosing between several proposed discussions. Participants bring “problems”, and the room is set up to ignite little conspiracies for 15 minutes at a time. After a few jostles, participants have met each other and have seen what is on the table. Ahh, multiplicity.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Saturday will be a full day of presentations. Presentations are to last last between 15-30 minutes, the remainder being left for conversation. The presentations will address 4 interwoven threads, which are theme of the symposium: Environment/Health, Materials/Technology, Policy/Economics, Education/Dissimenation.

9am Breakfast & Lingering Coffee Trinkets
10:00am Rob Scott: Passive Architecture in a Permaculture Look
10:45am Michael Todd McCulley: 1970’s Pioneer Projects — Super Insulated Homes by the Small Homes Council
11:30am Tomakin Archambault: Natural Capitalism – Path to Sustainability, Latest Strategies for the Building Industry
1:00pm Lunch
2:00pm Mark Enslin: Design and the Gesundheit Institute
2:45pm Brand Fortner: Nuts and Fruit: Where is my Eco-home?
3:30pm Witta Ebel: Passive Houses in Europe – Energy Efficiency as Smart Energy
4:15pm Katrin Klingenberg: Passive Houses and Implimentation: Energy Matters and Systems Design
6pm Dinner
8pm Robert Benson Gabler: Cradle to Cradle: Putting Eco-effectiveness into Practice

Robert Benson Gabler’s talk is supported by the Lorado Taft Lectureship on Art Fund, College of Fine & Applied Arts.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Sunday will consist of a design charette and a series of closing conversations. The design charette will provide an occasion to mix ideas together in reference to a not-yet-project, followed by an afternoon of identifying loose threads, prodding and poking in the direction of future action.

9am Breakfast & Lingering Coffee
10am Design Charette – We will depart for a local site where small groups will scratch and suggest proposals for a hypothetical project in Urbana. Danielle Chynoweth and Rob Scott will introduce the site, and talk about potentials for Ecological Construction in Urbana.
noon Short presentations from the working groups.
1 pm Lunch
2pm “What’s wrong with this symposium?” Counter-symposium conversation.
3pm Xtn Hansen: Building Community as we Build the Buildings for Community
4pm Self-guided tours of ecological construction sites in Urbana en route to…
5pm Open House – Barbeque at the first Passive House in Urbana