Designing for the Future: Incorporating the Passive House Standard

For the greatest possible environmental impact, incorporate the Passive House Standard into your project design.


Designing living environments that are equipped for the future requires a truly all-inclusive approach. The Passive House standard, an ultra-low energy certification program, requires designers to incorporate building science principles from the beginning of schematic design to significantly reduce energy consumption using mostly passive measures. While the focus of the program is reducing energy consumption, the intent of creating such efficient buildings is to also provide comfortable, healthy, and resilient places to live. Looking closely at the design of a 500-unit Passive House project in Silver Spring, MD, attendees will learn how this standard has been implemented to provide tenants with lower utility bills, comfortable indoor environments free from drafts, fresh filtered air, and durable healthy homes. This presentation will highlight how the typical design process had to be altered and what new tools and strategies were used to incorporate these concepts to have the greatest possible impact.

In partnership with AIA DC.

Learning objectives

  • List the main design concepts that govern a Passive House project and how these contribute to low energy consumption as well as healthy, affordable, and comfortable living environments
  • List several manufacturers of high performance products such as cladding attachment systems, windows, and ventilation units that are being designed into projects such as the 500 unit Passive House apartment building being examined
  • Describe the Passive House Standard, the main criteria for certification, and how it contributes to the goal of achieving net zero energy
  • Incorporate these new considerations (such as air-tight construction, highly thermally efficient envelopes, and energy recovery ventilation) into their own design process
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Average: 4.5 (599 votes)
 $50  non-member
 $35  member
1.50 LUs
  • HSW
  • RIBA


  • Chris Hamm Headshot

    Chris Hamm


    Senior Building Systems Engineer | Steven Winter Associates

    Chris is a Building Systems Engineer focused on Passive House design and energy modeling research...
  • Brandon Nicholson


    Founding Principal | NK Architects

    An accredited architecture and real estate professional, Brandon is actively involved in the design...
  • Scott Welch


    Principal Architect | Torti Gallas + Partners

    Mr. Welch is a project, team, and client leader at Torti Gallas + Partners, with a focus on mixed-...