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A Pattern Language from Passive House

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


"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: January 5, 12, 19, 26

Times: 12:30pm - 3:30pmPST


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.


What to Expect


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


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.


Professional Development:


  • AIBC Core LUs: 12
  • BC Housing Informal CPD Points: 10
  • Planning Institute of British Columbia (PIBC) CPL Units: 2.5



  • Session 1/4: Context and Form
    • Date: January 5, 2021
    • Time: 12:30pm to 3:30pm
    • 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: January 12, 2021
    • Time: 12:30pm to 3:30pm
    • 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: January 19, 2021
    • Time: 12:30pm to 3:30pm
    • 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: January 26, 2021
    • Time: 12:30pm to 3:30pm
    • 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.
Contact Email: Contact Phone:
+1 604-330-2017
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