Help Make Passive Building Mainstream Support PHIUS


Mike Kernagis

Co-Founder & Program Director

James M. (Mike) Kernagis was one of the first American builders to adopt passive building principles and build projects that meet the passive building energy standard.

In 2003, he and Katrin Klingenberg co-founded e-cological Construction Laboratory (e-colab) as a non-profit affordable housing developer in Urbana, Illinois to further investigate the feasibility of applying passive building principles in the United States. In 2005 he served as construction manager for the affordable housing units built to the passive building standard in cooperation with the City of Urbana.  

As interest in passive building grew in North America, Kernagis and Klingenberg oversaw the expansion of e-colab into Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) in 2007. PHIUS is now the leading passive building standard setting, research and information provider, training, and certification institute in North America. In his role as Program Director of PHIUS, Kernagis has overseen PHIUS operations, training, and membership programs since its inception. In 2012 Kernagis helped launch the PHIUS Certified Builder Training program, where he was instrumental in the development of its curriculum and continues to serve as a lead instructor for the program.

Katrin Klingenberg

Executive Director & Co-Founder

Katrin is the executive director of the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS), Chicago, Illinois, USA. PHIUS is an organization committed to making high-performance passive building the mainstream market standard.

After studying at the Technische Universitaet in Berlin, Germany and graduating from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana with a master’s degree in architecture in 1996, Katrin began her career in architecture with Murphy/Jahn in Chicago, Illinois. She then worked for the architecture firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz in Chicago. In 2002, she started her own firm and became a registered architect in Germany.

In 2007, Katrin co-founded the Passive House Institute US to work on education. She is the executive and the lead instructor for the PHIUS Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC) training. She also directs the technical and research programs at PHIUS which has trained over 2,000 architects, engineers, energy consultants, energy raters and builders in passive building standards. PHIUS has become the leading passive building research and information provider in North America.

Katrin has written and co-authored magazine articles and book contributions. She has also presented internationally on the topic of passive building science and won the Woman in Sustainability Leadership Award in 2015.


Katrina Kramens

Communications & Graphic Design

Katrina Kramens joined PHAUS in 2012 and came on as full time PHIUS/PHAUS staff in 2013. Kramens has held many roles including PHAUS Member/Chapter management, PHAUS Council staff liaison, PHIUS Conference organization, PHIUS Training program support and all things graphical and communications related. She designs and produces PHIUS and PHAUS communications products including e-newsletters, printed marketing collateral, trade show graphics, presentations, and technical graphics. 

Kramens is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago, holding a B.A. in Visual Communications with minors in photography and French. She also speaks German and Latvian. Kramens interned at "The Onion," before joining PHIUS.  

James Ortega

PHIUS+ Certification Staff

James Ortega joined PHIUS in February of 2015 as a member of the Certification team, where he provides design review and energy modeling services to evaluate project qualifications for PHIUS+ Certification. Ortega works closely with the submitting CPHC to provide feedback on questions pertaining to energy modeling and building plans. He also provides consulting services on static and dynamic energy modeling in WUFI Passive and THERM, and spearheads energy modeling deliverables on feasibility studies for projects interested in pursuing PHIUS+ Certification.

Ortega holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, and is currently pursuing his architectural licensure.

Lisa White

PHIUS+ Certification Manager

Lisa White has been with Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) since 2012 and currently serves as the project Certification Manager. She is also an instructor for Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC®) and WUFI Passive software trainings. White holds a degree in Environmental Sustainability with a minor in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and she is currently pursuing her Master’s in Energy Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In consultation with PHIUS Senior Scientist Graham Wright, White works on certification program development, reviews project designs and energy models to evaluate their qualification for PHIUS+ Certification, and provides feedback to project submission teams. She also provides consulting services on static and dynamic energy modeling in WUFI Passive, THERM modeling, and project planning specific to passive building principles. White has presented at numerous conferences and events, including the PHIUS Annual North American Passive House Conferences, the Affordable Comfort Institute national conference, and Facades+.

Graham S. Wright

PHIUS Senior Scientist & Chair of the PHIUS Technical Committee

Graham Wright earned his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois in 1993. After a 10 year career in the printing industry, he refocused his work on energy efficiency and renewable energy in 2007. He first volunteered with Americorps VISTA and then trained as a Passive House Consultant in 2008. He worked as an independent consultant, became licensed as an instructor for the PHIUS Certified Consultant Training in 2011 and began working for PHIUS in 2012 as a building scientist. He leads standards, certification and energy modeling protocol development at PHIUS, sets the research agenda for the Technical Committee and co-authored the PHIUS+2015 Passive Building Standard developed in 2015 in cooperation with Building Science Corporation under a Department of Energy grant. It is the only passive building standard of its kind in the world that is based on bioclimatic design guidelines and energy targets. Graham also develops and manages PHIUS's product certification programs.

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