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Architecture, Activism and The New Gravity

May 17, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

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Program Description:

Faced with the reality that buildings are responsible for over 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions in this country, and that the scientific community has been telling us for decades that Net-Zero-Energy, carbon-neutral, buildings need to be standard practice by 2030, should developers, architects and builders not be working over-time meet these needs? The dense, urban, multifamily work of Onion Flats, a Philadelphia-based development/design/build company, demonstrates the feasibility of making this “standard practice” a reality. Through the award-winning projects and policy initiatives of Onion Flats, Tim McDonald will highlight the political, technical and financial ‘leverage points’ for producing the changes necessary in the development/building industry they’ve created to meet the planet’s global carbon reduction goals in the next decade. Essential to meeting those goals is identifying the appropriate tools that can be employed by designers, engineers, lenders and builders in making carbon-neutral buildings that are affordable to build and operate. Experiments in prefabrication, Passive House envelope and systems strategies, renewable energy generation + micro-grids, bi-directional EV battery/building technology combined with car-sharing infrastructure potential, and a nationwide affordable housing policy initiative developed by Onion Flats to transform the housing industry toward carbon-neutrality by 2030 will leave attendees inspired and hopeful for future for both the housing industry and the planet.

Learning Objectives:

1. Participants will learn about the essential role that architecture plays in both the proliferation of the climate crisis as well as how it can help solve it.
2. Participants will learn how to initiate systemic policy changes in the way high-performance, NZE affordable housing gets promoted, financed and built.
3. Participants will learn how to cost-effectively design, detail and build with modular/prefabricated construction strategies for building affordable and market-rate Zero Energy single family and multifamily buildings .
4. Participants will learn about the efficiencies, challenges and opportunities that come with being the developer, architect and builder for a Passive House, NZE housing project.

Timothy McDonald is an Architect, Certified Passive House Consultant/Tradesman (CPHC) and President of Onion Flats LLC, a development/design/build collective centered in Philadelphia. He has been teaching and practicing for over 25 years with a focus on community development, multidisciplinary thinking and making, high-performance building technologies and alternative construction methodologies. Through his research and practice, Tim, along with his partners at Onion Flats, has developed, designed and built some of the first LEED Platinum and Certified Passive House, carbon-neutral projects in the USA.



May 17, 2023
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Event Category:


Stony Creek Brewery
5 Indian Neck Avenue
Branford, CT 06405 United States
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