Demonstration Project  

Coordinated by the Passive House and Living Building Challenge Communities

The intent of the Demonstration Project is two-fold: 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 will learn 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 will run on parallel tracks with several strategic collaborative sessions. The resulting study will provide two detailed reports. One report will describe how to satisfy each Petal imperative necessary to achieve Living Building Challenge certification. The second report will describe how to renovate an existing rowhouse to meet both national and international Passive House benchmarks.  

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! No experience with Passive House or Living Building Challenge required. These projects will both help you get up to speed and deepen your knowledge!

Passive Rowhouse Project                                 

ph charrette 01

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 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 year-long, 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

Living Building Challenge Affordable Infill Housing Project 

lbc charrette 01

Having previously designed two buildings for a Quaker community in the suburbs, this year the Living Building Challenge Community is taking on the challenge of affordable infill housing in Philadelphia.

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? Of course we can!  Living Building Challenge is not a prescriptive standard and the path to certification depends entirely on the ingenuity and dedication of the project team. 

Following our proven rhythm, we will meet at monthly charrettes and workshops to engage with the design community and project stakeholders, for hands-on learning about all 20 Petal Imperatives. Some topics you will learn about are:

  • 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 - how to interpret clarifications, approach exceptions and organize documentation


Over the next several months we will create a conceptual design and feasibility study that will provide a detailed report describing how to satisfy each Petal Imperative necessary to achieve Living Building Challenge certification. 


If interested in volunteering with the Living Building Challenge Project - please contact Nina Dudas at

Passive House Demonstration Project Sponsor


Legacy Partners

Platinum Partners

Enter your registered email address to receive password reset instructions:


Log in to your Green Building United account:

Reset Password