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Cost-effective Passive House Engineering for Larger Buildings & The Passive House High-Rise – How is it different?

April 25, 2018 @ 3:00 pm to April 26, 2018 @ 12:00 am

Sponsored by Passive House Canada

This is a one-day event will be comprised of TWO workshops that will offer local high-performance Passive House professionals and practitioners the opportunity to participate in a morning workshop with Brandon Nicholson of NK Architects in Seattle/Pittsburgh and an afternoon workshop with Lois Arena of Steven Winter Assoc. in Connecticut, and Monte Paulsen of RDH.

MORNING WORKSHOP – 8:00am – 12:00pm

Cost-Effective Passive House Engineering for Larger Buildings (4 hours)

Presented by: Brandon Nicholson

To deliver cost-optimized Passive House buildings we need a paradigm shift in how engineers approach the design of building mechanical systems. Fortunately, this shift is already underway. Learn how through a system-by-system tour of proven, low-cost engineering solutions for multifamily and commercial Passive House buildings.

Field-tested approaches to the building systems that are so key to the energy performance and cost optimization of larger Passive House projects will be shared: from envelope design, to glazing and shading, to ventilation and heating/cooling, to elevator integration, and more. Detailed training will be offered in in unit-by-unit, floor-by-floor, and whole building design approaches to Passive House building systems; building science fundamentals and how they impact envelope design; specific recommendations of component models; and an overview of the information technology tools that guide Passive House building system design. The presentation will draw on the firm’s major Passive House projects.

Learning objectives:

  • Participants will learn a delivery model for “design for off” engineering.
  • Participants will learn, from an illustrated tour, about cost-effective solutions to common HVAC challenges in larger Passive House buildings.
  • Participants will learn how the envelope-first approach to building energy engineering facilitates a paradigm shift in MEP design.
  • Participants will be introduced to unit-by-unit, floor-by-floor, and whole building design approaches to ventilation, space conditioning, and domestic hot water.


AFTERNOON WORKSHOP – 1:00pm – 5:00pm

The Passive House High-Rise: How is it different? (4 hours)

Presented by: Lois Arena & Monte Paulsen

Lois Arena will speak in-depth to the challenges and lessons learned on the Cornell Tech High-Rise residential tower known as The House.  She will explain how Passive House impacts the design & construction teams, especially on their first PH project.  She will also illustrate how the lessons learned from Cornell are currently being applied to Steven Winter Associates’ (SWA) next 33-story high-rise mixed-use project in Harlem: Sendero Verde.  Finally, Lois will discuss typical construction details for some of SWA’s other high-rise PH projects along with the common challenges related to ventilation and domestic hot water design in large scale MF buildings.

Learning objectives:

  • Participants will learn about the Sendero Verde, East Harlem Passive House project and lessons applied
  • Assemblies on other buildings will also be discussed including: ventilation: central vs. unitized; humidity control, maintenance, operation, costs
  • Participants will also hear about the design challenges, equipment availability, space constraints for Domestic Hot Water

Monte Paulsen will explore lessons learned in the first few multi-unit Passive House projects in British Columbia. Design concerns that are facing several of the wave of multi-unit projects currently in planning will be discussed. Monte will focus specifically on why large buildings present challenges to achieving PHI’s unique Primary Energy Renewable target (PER) and on strategies for overcoming these challenges. Monte will also address certification issues for larger Passive House buildings, and he will review the City of Vancouver energy code requirements as well as the City’s requirements for a “Passive House Commissioning Plan.”

Learning objectives:

  • Participants will explore the impacts on energy use, aka, PER
  • Participants will learn about some of the certification challenges of larger buildings
  • Participants will hear about the City of Vancouver’s process for larger buildings

Professional development

Total number of learning hours: 8

AIBC Core Learning Units: 3.75 per workshop

BC Housing (HPO) Training Hours: 4.00 per workshop

APEG credits: self-reported

Passive House Institute: 5 credits per workshop K061-2018-CA / K062-2018-CA


For information and to register, visit



April 25, 2018 @ 3:00 pm
April 26, 2018 @ 12:00 am


University of British Columbia (UBC) Robson Square
800 Robson Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 3B7 Canada
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