The True Cost of Building Better Homes with Tim McDonald

Did you know that in the U.S., 48% of energy consumption and 45% of greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to buildings (EIA 2012)? As designers, developers, and maintenance professionals who work with buildings, we have a responsibility to reverse these negative effects to preserve our resources and protect the health of future generations. So, where do we begin?

To kick-off season 2 of the Buildings and Beyond podcast, we are joined by Tim McDonald, President and Co-Founder of Philadelphia-based development firm, Onion Flats. As an architect and developer, Tim has made it his mission to ensure that each new project is one step closer to net-positive performance. By incorporating new strategies in design and construction, Tim explains the top three things developers, designers, and builders should think about when creating quality, efficient, and affordable housing.

Episode Guests: Tim McDonald

Tim McDonald headshotTim McDonald is the President and CEO of Onion Flats LLC. Tim is a licensed architect in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In 1997, with his brother Patrick, he co-founded Onion Flats LLC; a Philadelphia based real estate development/design/build firm. Tim has been an adjunct Professor of Architecture at Philadelphia University, Temple University, University of Calgary, and University of Pennsylvania. His service and experience extend into his community by holding current positions in the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association Zoning Committee, the Philadelphia Sustainability Advisory Board, as well as a previous position on the Old City Civic Association Board of Directors. Tim is also Founder/President of FAARM, a non-profit organization dedicated solely to the exhibition of art and architecture in Philadelphia. Tim is a Certified LEED Accredited Professional and Passive House Certified Consultant and Tradesman.


Episode Information and Resources

About the Passive House Standard

Passive House FAQ

LEED Integrative Process Worksheet

More on Tim and Onion Flats:

TEDxMidAtlantic 2010 – Tim McDonald – 11/5/10

The Bramble Project Interview with Tim

About Buildings and Beyond

Buildings and Beyond is a production of Steven Winter Associates. We provide energy, green building, and accessibility consulting services to improve the built environment. For more information, visit


Robb Aldrich | Kelly Westby

Production Team

Heather Breslin | Alex Mirabile | Dylan Martello

Next up on Buildings and Beyond…

Electrification with Richard Faesy

Guest: Richard Faesy

Richard headshot