Demonstration Project  

Coordinated by the Passive House and Living Future Communities

The intent of the Demonstration Project, which began in 2018, has been two-fold: to establish the feasibility of renovating existing brick masonry rowhouses to the Passive House standard; and design infill affordable housing to meet the requirements of the Living Building Challenge. Using charrettes and workshops to engage with the design community, participants have learned about opportunities to rethink how we design and build using above code standards as a guide for future development.  

The Passive House and Living Building Challenge studies have run on parallel tracks with several strategic collaborative sessions. While the LBC study has concluded, there are still opportunities to engage with the Passive House project. 

We invite you to participate!  Whether you are an urban planner, architect, contractor, homeowner, educator, developer, or just interested in deep green design - we welcome your unique presence! Please read about each project below and how you can get involved.

Passive Rowhouse Project                                 

passive house charrette 2018 b

The two and three story brick masonry rowhouse is a ubiquitous building type throughout the northeastern United States. In Philadelphia alone, 70% of all housing is rowhousing. There are great resources for renovating rowhomes like the Philadelphia Rowhouse Manual, the High Performance Historic Masonry Retrofit eBook, organizations like the Healthy Rowhouse Project and scores of individual designers and builders who are doing exemplary work. However, there is no comprehensive design manual that addresses how to conduct holistic high performance renovations of the existing brick masonry building typology at multiple scales, aesthetic requirements, and budgets all targeted towards specific, quantifiable energy benchmarks. 

Though there are myriad high performance energy benchmarks, Passive House methodology takes a holistic approach to the design of high performance buildings and has a track record of verifiable results from over 20 years of development. Some of the areas that have been and will be examined are:

  • Interior and Exterior Insulation Options
  • Hygrothermal Safety and Analysis
  • High Performance Historic Preservation Strategies
  • Rainscreen Facades
  • Air Barrier Continuity
  • Thermal Bridge Modeling and Mitigation
  • Doors and Window Installation and Detailing
  • Analyzing Assemblies in PHPP and WUFI
  • Value Engineering and Design Optimization
  • Domestic Hot Water System Options                              
  • HVAC Design and Integration


The conclusion of this volunteer-led charrette design process will be a how-to manual that details the Passive Rowhouse Project’s processes and conclusions that designers, consultants, builders, and developers can use to help guide their own projects. This document will describe different wall, floor, roof assembly and mechanical system options, component continuity, thermal bridge mitigation, hygrothermal performance and thermal bridge mitigation for multiple budgets and aesthetic goals (i.e. contemporary or historic). 

If interested in volunteering with the Passive House project - please contact Shannon Pendleton at


Passive House Demonstration Project High-Rise Event Series Sponsor

Passive House Event Series Host

Living Building Challenge Affordable Infill Housing Project 

The current LF Community Demonstration project has completed its workshops. If you are interested in being part of the next demonstration project, please send comments, suggestions, and feedback from past experiences to Wolf Arendt.

lbc charrette 01

The Living Future (LF) Community sought to assess the feasibility of applying deep green building practices to affordable infill housing in Philadelphia. With input from Community Ventures, the LF Community wanted to answer the question, "Can we build regenerative, resourceful, inspiring, healthy, net-positive water, and energy efficient rowhouses that are also affordable, and can we produce a best-strategies manual for anyone who would like to design and build Living affordable housing?"

Following a proven rhythm, the LF Community met for monthly charrettes and workshops to engage with the design community and project stakeholders, for hands-on learning about all 20 Petal Imperatives. Topics included:

  • Building within the resource limit of the project site
  • Access to food, fresh air, daylight, nature and community
  • Producing more energy than is consumed
  • Collecting and treating all water on site
  • Biophilia
  • Designing from place and for human scale
  • Healthy indoor environment
  • Identifying Red List materials and advocating for a responsible industry
  • Leading with beauty and inspiration
  • Integrative design process
  • How to use the LBC standard to interpret clarifications, approach exceptions and organize documentation


The LF Community assembled information produced during 2018 workshops, conducted further research, interpreted data, and presented final outcomes to the public in July 2019. Lessons learned are being formalized for release. 


LBC Mid-Rise Event Series Sponsors

LBC Demonstration Project Event Series Partner

Legacy Partners

Platinum Partners

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