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Pattern Language from Passive House: 4-Part Online Course

March 2 @ 9:30 am - 12:30 pm


How to Design and Build High-Performance Apartment Buildings at the Lowest Possible Cost 

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

This four-part online course 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 course 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 course focuses on affordable housing, the patterns apply equally to market- and luxury-housing projects.

What to Expect

This course has been designed to be a highly interactive online experience. Participation in group discussions is expected.

Discounts for BC Association Members

With support from Forestry Innovation Investment, a discount is available for BC-based industry associations. Please contact your association for more information.

Professional Development:

  • AIBC Core LUs: 12
  • BC Housing Informal CPD Points: 10


Session 1/4: Context and Form

  • Date: March 2, 2021
  • Time: 9:30am to 12:30pm
  • 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.

Session 2/4: Materials and Assemblies

  • Date: March 4, 2021
  • Time: 9:30am to 12:30pm
  • 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.

Session 3/4: Windows and Overheating

  • Date: March 9, 2021
  • Time: 9:30am to 12:30pm
  • 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.

Session 4/4: Affordable Mechanical

  • Date: March 11, 2021
  • Time: 9:30am to 12:30pm
  • 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.


March 2
9:30 am - 12:30 pm