Gunter Goes Guitar!

By Tad Everhart

For many in the PHnw 6 audience, Gunter Lang was a surprise.  Who opens a building performance keynote with a guitar riff and song? 

Someone who is passionate about passive and works hard promoting it.

If you check Gunter’s website, you’ll see that passion in print.  Gunter and his son not perform research and write reports about passive house, but you will see a list of well over 100 presentations on passive house to audiences on every continent except Antarctica and Africa over the last 9 years.

Those of us who have enjoyed Gunter’s prior presentations were not completely surprised by the guitar.  I first enjoyed Gunter’s skills as a presenter at the 2009 PHIUS Conference in Urbana.  I’ll probably never forget him thoroughly embarrassing an attractive young woman in the audience who answered his question (What you like best about passive houses?) and got a mini-lecture on the many “safe sex” benefits of well-ventilated passive houses.

In 2011, Gunter returned and gave a keynote to the Fall PHnw Conference in Seattle. 

In the same trip, NAPHN arranged for Gunter to present in other cities in order to leverage his travel costs to North America over as many presentations as possible. 

Another city where Gunter presented was Portland where he was the keynote for the Oregon Opportunity Network’s annual affordable housing industry conference. 

Gunter addressed about 100 Oregon and Southern Washington affordable housing experts which included staff from REACH Community Development Corporation and I believe also from St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County (SVDP). 

Perhaps it is no surprise that OON member organization SVDP went on to build a 6-unit apartment to the Passive House Standard as part of its Stellar Apartments project to test the passive house concept.  We’ve enjoyed reports in subsequent PHnw conferences from passive house professionals who contributed to that project: Win Swafford, Jan Fillinger, and Professor Allison Kwok.  Their presentations are based in part on additional life cycle analysis research by Peter Reppe.

Gunter’s contribution to REACH’s passive house pioneering is even more clear.  After Gunter’s keynote presentation to OON in 2011, he met with REACH staff at their office as well as REACH’s design, engineering, and construction team.   Dee Walsh, executive director of REACH announced her commitment to REACH pioneering passive house in the U.S. at PHnw’s 2012 conference in Portland.

This year, Gunter got to see the fruit of his contribution to REACH.  He visited REACH CDC’s nearly-complete Orchards apartments near Hillsboro two days before his presentation at PHnw 6.  Here’s Gunter pointing out elements of the Orchards’ exterior to Dylan Lamar.

At completion, the Orchards is the largest apartment built to the Passive House Standard in North America. Mike Steffen, VP of general contractor Walsh Construction and a member of the PHnw board of directors organized and hosted the tour.  Thanks, Mike!

Mike Steffen explained the exterior wall assembly as well as introducing Walsh staff who accompanied us on the tour.

In addition to admiring the Orchards, Gunter gave presentations to AIA Portland Committee on the Environment at Noon and then to Zeitgeist Northwest at Urban Nest in the evening.  Not bad for a man who had been on the road for the last 15 days giving presentations in 6 other cities spread out across North America.  In fact, this day in Portland, Gunter was operating on only 4 hours of sleep since our friends at CanPHI kept him up until 1 am and his flight departed Vancouver, BC for Portland at 5 am!

Gunter enjoyed a warm welcome from AIA Portland staff assistant Colleen Bastendorf and Robert Hoffman, the Executive Vice President/CEO of AIA Portland.  Portland Passive House Consultants Cory Hawbecker of Holst Architecture introduced Gunter and Ken Klos helped guide his Portland tour.

Approximately 40 people attended Gunter’s presentation which was co-hosted by the AIA Portland Committee on the Environment.

Later, Portland real estate broker Brooke Budy not only hosted Gunter in his apartment in the Passive House Kiln Apartments, but he also hosted Gunter’s presentation to Zeitgeist Northwest at the office of his employer, Urban Nest Realty.  Here Brooke is introducing Summer Goodwin, and energy-efficiency marketing expert at BPA.  Summer is also a member of ZGNW and introduced Gunter to an audience who could understand him in both English and German.

Gunter showed off his own passive house in Austria (seen in slide) where he has hosted over 2,000 guests and participated in every single one of the International Passive House Days Open Houses.  His may also be the only perfectly round passive house in the world!


Wrapping up his PHnw 6 warmup in Portland, Gunter presented to a packed house of city planners and commercial developers, designers, and builders at co-host Earth Advantage after a warm welcome by Ken Klos. 


The following sponsors supported Gunter’s presentations in Portland.  Please thank them.