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It is exciting to see this type of international initiative based right here in Minnesota. After studying architecture in Würzburg, Germany and returning to my home state in 2002, I wondered if there was a way to transfer the German know-how to the climate and building tradition of the Midwest.
There are many building and technological innovations available in Europe that haven't jumped the pond. Is it the language barrier or just a cultural tendency not to "look out over the rim of the plate" to paraphrase the German idiom. The European mentality of spending money on environmental improvements just because they are a good idea hasn't found its way into people's heads here either. They're willing to spend way too much on a McMansion, for a luxury car or a home theater, but they complain about wasting money when it comes to conserving energy.
Stick-frame construction has a venerable tradition in the US and was innovative at its outset. Now it needs to take the next step to make it more efficient, durable and less wasteful to stay competitive. Here I'm thinking of improvements such as advanced framing, increasing wall material permeability to allow it to dry (use OSB responsibly), pushing window units towards the center of the wall thickness so elaborate flashing details aren't required.
In their defense contractors such as those in my town of 22,000 are looking more and more at spray-foam insulation and ICF construction, but they still don't look at the possibilities of passive solar. Maybe it could be the next step in the Green Bridge process to bring international innovation and environmental culture to carpentry classes such as those available in our town to improve the knowledge base of the upcoming builders.

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