Students, faculty, and staff attending 2016 Hankin Lecture by Sam Rashkin

2019 Hankin Lecture

The lecture recording is available here.

When: November 13, 2019 at 4:00pm

Where: Freeman Auditorium, HUB-Robeson Center, Penn State University Park campus

The PHRC welcomes Timothy McDonald, president and co-founder of Onion Flats LLC in Philadelphia, as the 2019 Hankin Distinguished Lecturer. His lecture is entitled "Leverage Points: Climate Change and the Imperative of Affordable Housing." 

In Donatella Meadow’s seminal 1999 essay, Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System, she reminds us that there are “...places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything.” 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 ‘big changes’ 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.

The full Penn State News release is available here.

About the Hankin Distinguished Lecture Series

The Hankin Distinguished Lecture series, hosted by Penn State’s residential construction program and the PHRC, was established in 2006 to honor the late Bernard Hankin and his family for their continuous and dedicated support of the residential construction program at Penn State. It brings world-class speakers to Penn State to address students, faculty, industry members and the public with thought-provoking topics and education related to the housing industry. The residential construction program and the PHRC are administered within Penn State’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering. The lecture series is free and open to the public.

The full length videos for lectures from 2007-present are available for online viewing on our website. 

Portrait of Timothy McDonald

About Timothy McDonald

Timothy McDonald is a Registered Architect in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, LEED AP, Certified Passive House Consultant and Tradesman (CPHC) and President of Onion Flats LLC, an award winning development/design/build collective centered in Philadelphia. He has been teaching and practicing for over 20 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 Gold and Platinum projects in the country and the First Certified Passive House, Net-Zero-Energy-Capable project in Pennsylvania.




The Pennsylvania Housing Research Center serves the home building industry and the residents of Pennsylvania by improving the quality and affordability of housing.

We conduct applied research, foster the development and commercialization of innovative technologies, and transfer appropriate technologies to the housing community.

Pennsylvania Housing Research Center

219 Sackett Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-2341

Fax: 814-863-7304