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Webinars: Patterns of Affordable Passive House Design

June 2, 2020 @ 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm

How to design and build high-performance apartment buildings at the lowest possible cost.

About this Event


“A Pattern Language from Passive House” is an interactive workshop that teaches cost-effective planning and design of affordable, low-emission, mid-rise, multi-unit, wood-framed housing.

This four-part workshop presents design problems common to multi-unit buildings, followed by solutions that have worked in previous high-performance projects. These solutions are organized into “patterns” using a format adapted from A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander (et al).

The patterns presented in this workshop are drawn from the hundreds of affordable multi-unit buildings constructed to the Passive House standard worldwide, because this is the largest cohort of affordable, low-emission, mid-rise, multi-unit housing. While these solutions are taken from Passive House buildings, they are applicable for residential building design to meet Step 4 of the BC Energy Step Code, as well as multi-unit buildings aiming for similar low-TEDI or not-zero energy standards. Likewise, while this workshop focuses on affordable housing, the patterns apply equally to market- and luxury-housing projects.

Course Dates and Times

Dates: June 2, 9, 16, 23

Times: 12:00pm – 2:30pm PST

Discounts for BC Association Members

We are offering members of local BC-based industry associations a discount on registration. If you are a member of a BC association, please select the discounted ticket and include the association in which you are a member of. Our team will be following up with your association to confirm membership.

If you are not a member of a BC-based association, please select the regular priced ticket.

What to Expect

This workshop has been designed to be a highly interactive online experience. Discussion is expected and participation in small-group design exercises (using online break-out groups) required. Each workshop will be followed by an “open floor” discussion.

Workshop Facilitator

Monte Paulsen, EA, CPHC, PHI Building Certifier | Associate, Passive House Specialist – RDH Building Science

Monte is among Canada’s most experienced Passive House professionals. He leads a multi-city Passive House team that has consulted on or certified more than 70 projects—totalling 4 million square feet—including homes, offices, affordable mid-rise buildings, and luxury high-rise buildings.

Monte is also a veteran Passive House Trainer who has helped more than 100 professionals earn their Certified Passive House Designer (CPHD) credential. His courses range from a one-day Passive House 101 overview to the multi-day workshop A Pattern Language for Passive House.

Monte was a founding board member and volunteer at the not-for-profit organization Passive House Canada, and previously managed his own Passive House consulting firm, which merged with RDH Building Science in 2016.

COVID-19 Updates

1. Summer and Fall Workshop Schedule

This four session workshop will be delivered six times throughout 2020. The format and dates for summer and fall 2020 Pattern Language workshops will be announced once we have a better understanding of what the social distancing guidelines will be for those months, under the direction of the BC Health Authority. Please continue to monitor our events calendar or sign up to our monthly newsletter for updates on future workshops.

2. Professionals Affected by COVID-19

We understand that the COVID-19 virus has made serious impacts on the lives of many BC residents. If you are a professional in the BC building industry and are currently out of work or working with reduced hours due to this pandemic, we are here to support you! Please contact for reduced pricing.

Professional Development:

  • AIBC Core LUs: 8
  • PHI credits: TBD
  • BC Housing Informal CPD Points: 8


Session 1/4: Context and Form

  • Date: June 2, 2020
  • Time: 12:00pm – 2:30pm
  • Context: New constraints; wood-frame, mid-rise, multi-unit; role of pre-design planning.
  • Tools: Passive House; Step Code; other standards.
  • Case Study: The cheapest passive house buildings on earth.
  • Patterns: Keys to affordability; surface area; mechanical; maintenance.
  • Tools: How to calculate form factor and mechanical simplicity.
  • Small group exercise: Form and mechanical for an urban site.

Session 2/4: Materials and Assemblies

  • Date: June 9, 2020
  • Time: 12:00pm – 2:30pm
  • Context: Embodied carbon vs. operational emissions vs. energy efficiency.
  • Tools: LCA modelling; monthly energy models; hourly energy models.
  • Patterns: Interior insulation; exterior insulation; standing panels; hanging panels; modular.
  • Case Study: Modular Passive House.
  • Context: Impact of thermal bridging on large buildings.
  • Tools: How passive house and Step 4 count thermal bridging.
  • Patterns: Suspended slabs; balconies; window/door frames; mechanical penetrations.
  • Small group exercise: Redesign enclosure of small building.

Session 3/4: Windows and Overheating

  • Date: June 16, 2020
  • Time: 12:00pm – 2:30pm
  • Context: Large buildings and solar gains.
  • Tools: How windows and doors are rated.
  • Patterns: Large panes; Operable exterior shades.
  • Case Study: Overheating.
  • Context: Overheating; internal heat gains; climate change.
  • Tools: Worst suite analysis required by BC Housing, City of Vancouver, etc.
  • Patterns: Shading; night flush; mechanical cooling.
  • Small group exercise: Evaluate cooling strategies for given building.

Session 4/4: Affordable Mechanical

  • Date: June 23, 2020
  • Time: 12:00pm – 2:30pm
  • Context: Heat-recovery ventilation primer; impact of flow rates.
  • Tools: Unity efficiency vs. system efficiency.
  • Patterns: Local – regional – central; tempered air; kitchens; sealed ducts.
  • Case Studies: Centralized vs. ventilation risks.
  • Intro: DHW is large demands; GWP of gas; GWP of refrigerants.
  • Context: TEUI vs. PER; setting a budget as SD with PER calculator.
  • Patterns: Short DHW runs, less DHW recirculation, pipe insulation; DHW heat pumps; elevators and pumps; appliances and plug loads.
  • Small group exercise: Design mechanical spaces and select systems for given building.