New option for PH design training launching Sustainable Engineering’s course starts October

17 August 2022 by Rachel Rose

New Zealand needs more Passive Houses—and other buildings heading in that high-performance direction. That requires more confident and skilled Passive House designers. Sustainable Engineering is launching a totally new training option in October, in order to familarise qualified professionals with the practical processes for designing Passive House homes. This is the process developed at Sustainable Engineering based on scores of projects, that makes the Passive House design process practical, predictable and straightforward for the designer, architect, builder and client. 

“We’re putting this training together for three reasons,” says Jason Quinn, Sustainable Engineering’s founding director. “We want more Passive House designs done well, as soon as possible. We want to provide an option for people who need the flexibility of part-time, online training that they can fit around their work and family commitments.

“And thirdly, we want architects’ first Passive House projects to run more smoothly. That way we get better houses at the end of the process and potentially save homeowners money.” 

“Avoiding the common traps inexperienced designers fall into saves stress, time and money. Also it makes our job as certifiers easier. We’d rather prevent problems than help fix them.”

Passive House certifier and building scientist Sara Wareing has been working a lot during the past year with architects and designers who are undertaking their first Passive House project after sitting the Certified Passive House Designer exam. Others have undertaken independent learning and are attempting to become certified Passive House designers by the practical method route—that is, they become certified themselves by designing a building which is certified as a Passive House, EnerPHit or PHI Low Energy Building. 

“Getting certified is like having a learner’s licence,” says Sara. “You’re allowed on the road, but you don’t have much experience and there are plenty of potholes and a lot to concentrate on. The training to prepare for the exam is great and it does what it promises in terms of laying out the theory. Our focus in this course is showing the simplest path to certifying a single family home.”

“The Practical Passive House Design Process course will give people the practical experience they need to design with confidence.”

The course has been developed by the Sustainable Engineering team, with encouragement from New Zealand’s leading Passive House designers. It is being offered in conjunction with the Passive House Academy of New Zealand (PHANZ).

“As with all other types of training, after passing the exam to become a Certified Passive House Designer or Consultant, the learning is just beginning,” says Dr Kara Rosemeier (Director, Passive House Academy New Zealand – Kaiako Pūtaiao Hanganga). “This course adds another 16 sessions to the journey, focusing on the practical application of the building science theory, and getting a project through to certification. It is a welcome addition to the existing training modules, and recommended for graduates of the exam preparation course!”.

Practical PH design process: a start to finish course will be delivered online over eight weeks. In future it will be a mix of recorded presentations and live tutorials. However there are benefits for the first intake of students: the course beginning in October will be completely live. The presentations will be recorded and used again for future courses. 

The Sustainable Engineering team expects that many people will sign up because they are already working on a Passive House project or they’re about to start designing one. The training will take them right through the design process of a Passive House home, from what to consider at the very outset through to submission for the first stage of certification, the pre-construction review. 

Jason says that in order to succeed in the Practical PH design process course, students need to understand building science basics and have some familiarity with PHPP. “The training is focused on practical actions in PHPP. Given the time constraints, the building science will be briefly skimmed. Having taken both of the Certified Passive House Designer/Consultant (CEPH) classes with PHANZ would be ideal preparation.

“This course is also suitable for someone with a background in building science or physics/mechanical/structural engineering and some construction knowledge.” A motivated architect or architectural designer without a building science or technical background should expect that additional training or mentoring will be required.

“If someone doesn’t have a project ready to start, we’ll provide them with one,” says Passive House certifier Toby Brooke. “There are a couple of options we’ve prepared that are perfectly suited for developing a designer’s skills and confidence.”

Course numbers will be capped to ensure that every student gets personal assistance during the tutorial sessions. Presentations will be variously led by Sustainable Engineering’s certification team. 

The course is structured to make it as accessible as possible for busy professionals. It runs for eight weeks, beginning Tuesday 11 October 2022 with sessions 12.00pm-1.30pm on Tuesday and Thursdays. A detailed course outline and further information is available here.

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