Passive House Design


Length: 6 weeks

Instructor: Mike Duclos

Partner: NESEA: Building Energy Masters Series


Many architects, builders, and consultants understand the fundamentals of Passive House design, but few have used the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) to realize a building that is even close to the Passive House standard on a real client project. This course is designed for professionals who are keen to have a first hand understanding of the challenges and advantages of designing using Passive House principles. Since so much of Passive House performance is determined by building envelope design and floor plan development, a first hand appreciation for the implications of design decisions is crucial.

This course begins with the historical perspective of Passive House, introduces some key challenges and solutions for very low energy home designs using a variety of calculators for feedback in exploring different aspects of the design space. The course culminates in designing 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. The concept is to provide easily obtained energy use feedback, which is somewhat less precise than the conventional use of the PHPP, so the effects of different design decisions can be quickly evaluated, with the goal of traveling 80% of the way down the design path with 20% of the effort. From that vantage point, and understanding the time and budget implications, an informed decision can be made regarding investing the remaining 80% of the effort.

The impetus for creating this simplified adaptation of the PHPP is that, in our experience, homes designed without good energy use feedback tend to be problematic candidates for approaching the Passive House level of performance. 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. AIA Credits are available, familiarity with spreadsheets is a prerequisite, as is the purchase of a copy of the current version of the PHPP.
This is Hands-On Learning

You will design a Passive House using a simplified version of 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.

1-Year NESEA Membership Included

Founded in 1974, the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) is today the region’s leading membership organization promoting sustainable energy practices in the built environment. We as professionals in the fields of renewable energy and building embrace whole systems thinking as the path to sustainability.

Your Instructor


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]

Course Outline

WELCOME - Orientation Materials & Explanation for How This Course Works

You'll have access to all of the course materials immediately after you enroll - this course is SELF-PACED, so you don’t need to be ‘logged in’ at any specific time. Expect to spend an average of 5 hours/week on the course materials and homework, but you can work ahead or catch up if you fall behind. Keep in mind that Paul & Mike will be there to provide guidance, answer your questions and help you learn for the duration of the course. Paul & Mike will not be on duty after the last day of the course, but you’ll have access to all course materials for a full year.

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?"

RESOURCES - Everything You Need to Become a Leading Expert of Passive House

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!