Building Performance
Passive House

Passive House in the Real World - Self Study

Mike Duclos • Last updated 03/2023

4.7/5 (view ratings)
75 students
4 modules
10:38 hours
55 assignments

Course description

Passive House Consultant Mike Duclos teaches how to apply Passive House principles in the real world. With a brief nod to theory and computation, this course will mainly focus on tips, tricks, pitfalls, and what to expect when making Passive House a reality. Through case studies, videos, readings, quizzes, and Mike’s guidance you will enhance your ability to be a part of a Passive House project team, the most vital component of any successful Passive House project.

Through the lens of existing Passive House projects, expect to learn:

  • How to pitch and promote the PH standard to stakeholders
  • Considerations for client management in PH
  • Budget evaluation and the feasibility of affordable PH
  • How to evaluate the pros and cons of casement, fixed and tilt and turn windows, and other PH considerations
  • Site evaluation examples, tips, and tricks
  • Common pitfalls to avoid before, during, and after PH design and construction
  • Avoiding common Passive House problems: thermal bridging, critters, moisture control, ventilation, etc.
  • Climate considerations and implications
  • How to assemble, manage and optimize your project team
  • Identifying and minimizing project schedule risks

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Continuing Education Units

Approved for: 10.5 PHIUS CPHC CEUs, 10 BPI CEUs.

Full course outline

Welcome - Orientation Materials

This is a self-study on demand course. This course is self-paced, so you don’t need to be logged in at any specific time. You can get started immediately after you enroll and the course materials will remain in your account with minimum guaranteed access for 12 months (1 year) after enrollment.

Module 1 - Setting the Stage – Why Passive House and Why Now?

Topics: Historical context, review of the Passive House Standard, energy language primer, comparison of building rating systems, use of energy modeling to improve performance, how challenging is Passive House space heat demand, Passive House and HERS, case study: a 35+ year old super-insulated home.

  • Introduction to Passive House in the Real World (05:46 minutes)
  • Historical Background of Passive House (21:19 minutes)
  • Historical Background of Passive House - Quiz
  • Energy Language (26:14 minutes)
  • Energy Language - Quiz
  • Energy Modeling (24:20 minutes)
  • Energy Modeling - Quiz
  • Leger House - Video (16:50 minutes)
  • Leger House - Quiz
  • Energy Language Homework (.xls)
  • Energy Modeling Homework - Rev. 1.2 (.xls)
  • Week 1 Resources (.pdf)
Module 2 - Enclosures, Assemblies, and Systems – Through the Lens of Existing Projects

Topics: Psychometrics, moisture control, thermal bridging, ventilation and case studies, environmental impact of insulation, and minimizing that impact, a Passive House in winter without heating, window strategies. Learn from case studies and examples how to optimize these elements of Passive House design, and construction. Most of you have probably watched All About Windows and Passive vs Conventional Floor Planning, but if any have not, they are included here for convenience, it is a good idea to watch them before the remainder of the material. The All About Windows Q+A audio is optional.

  • Lecture - "All About Windows" (56:00 minutes)
  • 1-hour "All About Windows" Q+A audio recording (.mp3)
  • Lecture - Passive vs. Conventional Floor Planning (01:00:47 hours)
  • Article: Passive House Floor Planning
  • Enclosures (39:47 minutes)
  • Enclosures (10 questions)
  • THERM And Thermal Bridging (12:32 minutes)
  • THERM and Thermal Bridging (10 questions)
  • Insulation (30:40 minutes)
  • Insulation (11 questions)
  • Ventilation - Theory (35:20 minutes)
  • Ventilation - Theory (11 questions)
  • Ventilation - Case Studies (26:11 minutes)
  • Ventilation - Case Studies (10 questions)
  • Interpreting Infrared images of buildings (.docx)
  • Psychrometric Chart and Insulation (.xls)
  • Week 2 Resources (.pdf)
Module 3 - Air Tightness, Mechanicals, Lights, and Appliances

Topics: Space heating and cooling approaches, reasons for/against solar DHW and alternatives, the importance of the DHW distribution system drainwater heat recovery, the importance of lights and appliances, with examples from PH in design and completed.

  • Air Tightness (35:49 minutes)
  • Air Tightness (10 questions)
  • Air Source Heat Pumps (31:31 minutes)
  • Air Source Heat Pumps (10 questions)
  • Domestic Hot Water - DHW (36:08 minutes)
  • Domestic Hot Water (13 questions)
  • Lights and Appliances (17:30 minutes)
  • Lights and Appliances (10 questions)
  • Week 3 Homework (.xls)
  • Week 3 Resources (.pdf)
Module 4 - To Certify Or Not To Certify

Topics: Zero Net / Passive House inspired, climate-adapted and traditional standards, evaluation of project potential for PH, organizing a successful project team, common pitfalls, helpful tools and resources. Case studies of Passive House inspired new homes, certified Passive House and Passive House inspired Deep Energy Retrofit.

  • Zero Net Energy, Passive House Inspired, Certified Passive House (44:52 minutes)
  • 4.1 Zero Net Energy, Passive House Inspired, Certified
  • Evaluating a project for Passive House potential (30:15 minutes)
  • 4.2 - Project Potential for Passive House Certification
  • Marketing Passive House (14:46 minutes)
  • 4.3 - Marketing Passive House
  • Organizing a successful Passive House certification project (39:59 minutes)
  • Passive House Case Studies (31:26 minutes)
  • 4.4 - Organizing a successful Passive House project
  • Week 4 Homework
  • Week 4 Resources (.pdf)
Conclusion - Feedback and Additional Resources

This is our last module but you still have access to the all of course materials for 12 months (1 year), so keep working and you'll be able to complete the course at your own pace. After your year of access expires you can optionally extend access with a HeatSpring Membership. Enjoy the course and keep in touch!

  • 1 Year of Access to Course Materials
  • Feedback: 2-minute Exit Survey
  • Consider Joining as a HeatSpring Member
  • Certificate of Completion: Request a Certificate
  • Reporting Form for PHIUS CEUs


Mike Duclos


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,... Learn more


30 reviews

75 students have taken this course

by Matthew Stanfield, Principal Architect / Owner, FiELD9: architecture 07/04/2019

Passive House in the Real World is an excellent way to submerse yourself in the world of Passive House. The content is clearly presented and easy to understand. It has been immensely helpful in deepening my understanding of not only the theory of Passive House, but how it plays out in actual projects.

by Kim Erslev, Architect, Landscape Architect, Salmon Falls Ecological Design 02/20/2017

This course was well-taught and the information was accessible to students from different backgrounds with more or less technical expertise. I highly recommend it!

by nikoleta petrova, CAD Design 02/16/2017

This is a great overall review of Passive House concepts, methods and results over the last few years.

by Scott Paulson, Owner, Resource Efficient Solutions, LLC 10/12/2016

Excellent course, with lots of real world problems and solutions that are encountered on high performance building projects.

by Frank Karpowicz AIA + CPHC, President, Frank Karpowicz Architects, Inc. 04/19/2016

Great refresher for a CPHC and important new practical information not taught in the CPHC course.

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Frequently asked questions

How does this course work?

You can begin this online course instantly upon enrollment. This 4 module course is delivered entirely online. This is a self-study, self-paced course and you can set your own schedule to complete the materials. You can begin the lecture videos and other course materials as soon as you enroll. After successfully completing the course, you will be able to generate a certificate of completion.

How long do I have access to the materials?

Students get unlimited access to the course materials as soon as they enroll and for one year (365 days) after enrollment. Rewatch videos and review assignments as many times as you want. View updates the instructor makes to the course as the industry advances. Return to your course anytime with online access from anywhere in the world. After the one year of access expires, access can be extended by joining as a HeatSpring member. A single membership extends access to course materials for all past enrollments.

Is there a certificate of completion?

Yes, 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 LinkedIn integration.

Can I register multiple people?

Yes please visit our HeatSpring for Teams page to get a group discount.

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