Passive House Design


Length: 7 weeks

Instructor: Mike Duclos

Subjects: Green Building: Passive House


Passive House is justifiably regarded to be the most energy efficient building standard in the world, as well as the most challenging to meet.

Spend seven weeks with Mike Duclos, Principal and Founder of DEAP Energy Group, learning how to meet the rigorous (and non-negotiable) Passive House design criteria and make Passive House happen in the real world.

During Passive House Design you will learn:

This course moves beyond theory into the realm of practical application and hands-on learning. At the end of the course, Mike challenges you to design a home using a simplified adaptation of the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) to meet the most challenging design criteria: Passive House Space Heating and Primary Energy requirements.

Mike Duclos takes a hands-on approach to teaching, and is committed to providing the tools required to help design Passive House in the real world. The material and exercises will challenge you theoretically and practically, but Mike will be there every step of the way to provide insights and direction through the course discussion board. Familiarity with spreadsheets is a prerequisite, and students must have access to the current version of the PHPP.

Students should be comfortable using Excel spreadsheets because it is an important part of the course.

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Hands-On Learning

You will explore the impacts of different Passive House design decisions using a simplified version of the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP).

Sample Floor Plans Included

Students are encouraged to design their own structures, but sample floor plans are included for your reference and use on future projects.

Required: Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) - Version 8.5 or Newer - System International (Metric)

In order to utilize Mike's PHPP Lite add-on the the PHPP, students will need to have access to the latest version of the software. This is not included in the price of the course. Link:

Self-Paced Online Course

This course is self-paced and entirely online. The lecture videos and other materials are available any time, and the instructor responds to student questions through a discussion board during the posted session dates. In order to participate, you will need an Internet connection and an up-to-date web browser. You can earn continuing education credits by completing all course assignments by the session end date.

Supported by Student Advocate – Tom McCormack

In addition to instructor support via the discussion board, students have access to Tom McCormack, HeatSpring's Student Advocate. He is available to answer general questions via email, course discussion board, or chat.

Earn a Certificate of Completion

When you complete this course you are eligible for a certificate of completion from HeatSpring. You can download your certificate as soon as you have completed all of the course requirements. Students can easily share their verified certificates on their LinkedIn profiles using our one-click LinkedIn integration.

Earn Continuing Education Credits

Approved for: 10 PHIUS CPHC CEUs , 17.5 Building Performance Institute (BPI) CEUs , 10 AIA LU/HSW Credits , 6 GBCI credits (LEED Professionals)

Your Instructor

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Mike Duclos

Principal, DEAP Energy Group, LLC

Mike Duclos is a principal and founder of The DEAP Energy Group, LLC, a consultancy providing a wide variety of Deep Energy Retrofit, Zero Net Energy and Passive House related consulting services. Mike was an energy consultant on the Transformations, Inc. Zero Energy Challenge entry, and has worked on a variety of Zero Net Energy, DER and Passive House projects,...[more]

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Course Outline

Welcome - Orientation Materials

This course is self-paced, so you don’t need to be logged in at any specific time. You can complete the material whenever is convenient and work ahead or catch up if you fall behind. Expect to dedicate a minimum of 5 hours per week to the course. Keep in mind that the instructor will be there to answer your questions and help you learn for the duration of the course. The instructor will only be available to answer questions during the posted session dates, so ask all your questions while we're in session. You will have access to all of the online materials for a full year. Contact Tom McCormack, your Student Advocate, if you have questions before or after the posted session dates. Please review the orientation materials and introduce yourself on the discussion board.

Week 1 - Introduction to Energy Modeling and the Passive House Standard

This will be an informative week of videos, reading, and homework assignments to lay the groundwork for more in-depth topics. Plan to spend about five hours over the course of the week on this background material. We'll cover: History of Passive House, Introduce the Standard and certification strategies, Social & Environmental Context, Introduction to Energy Modeling and the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP), and some real-world examples building designed and constructed to the Passive House standard from New England, Germany, and Austria.

Week 2 - Passive House Details and Products - Part 1

We'll go into detail about Thermal Bridging, Foundations & Slabs, Above-grade walls, Windows and doors, Roofs, Mechanical Systems, Solar Thermal, and others.

Week 3 - Passive House Details and Products - Part 2

More details: Mechanical Systems, including schematic design and details. Also, Building Science issues encountered in Passive House design and construction that you may not run into in conventional design and construction.

Week 4 - Case studies and Passive House as a retrofit strategy

Mike has learned a few lessons working his own Passive House projects as well as observing others. This week he'll share all of these lessons to get you up the learning curve quickly. Moving beyond theory and completely into the realm of practical reality, this week's video lessons and discussion are about how to make Passive House happen in the real world. We'll build on this to discuss the limitations of Passive House, asking the question: "Is the Passive House Standard too Rigorous for the US?"

Week 5 - PHPP Lite - A simplified interface to the Passive House Planning Package

The full PHPP is a 40-tab spreadsheet with literally hundreds of inputs. PHPP Lite is a ‘wrapper’ around the PHPP which presents a much more limited interface, intended for ease of learning and understanding. We will go through a set of simple exercises to become familiar with how it is used, how user feedback is presented and the sensitivity of Space Heat Demand and Primary Energy to different inputs. Homework will reinforce and expand the use of this tool. We will describe the goals of the capstone project: to design a home that will meet the Passive House Space Heat Demand and Primary Energy goals and get everyone started.

Week 6 - Capstone Project

This week is entirely devoted to your capstone project. We will discuss the challenges that you discovered, the solutions that worked and didn’t work and why, general questions, and next steps.

Week 7 - Everything You Need to Become a Passive House Expert

Here we have created a list of resources for you, books, websites, conferences, advanced training, industry Contacts and more. All students will have the tools to be a contributing member in the growing, global Passive House community. We'll continue this conversation at the Building Energy Conference! This course is accredited through the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA). Upon the completion of your course, after you have submitted your capstone project, please fill out the form below to receive CEUs and a certificate of participation. You will receive your certificate within a few weeks via email. If you have any questions, please contact Miriam Aylward at

After The Course - Feedback and Additional Resources

No matter how great this course is, we know it's just one part of a bigger journey. In this module we'll start thinking about what comes next. You'll provide feedback on the course, request a certificate of completion, and learn about additional resources. Don't forget that you'll have access to this course and all updates we make to it for at least a year. Feel free to come back as much as you like to continue learning, and please stay in touch. Let us know what you do next and how we can help.

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Passive House Sample Design

Author: Mike Duclos