It's Here: The Passive Rowhouse Manual

By Leah Wirgau

Posted June 14, 2021


If you are looking to renovate a rowhome as sustainably as possible, the Passive Rowhouse Manual (Manual) is for you!


What is the Passive Rowhouse Manual?

The Manual provides guidance for the construction or renovation of residential rowhouses using sustainable and renewable energy technology, materials, practices, and procedures. There are many ways to define and quantify sustainability, and the Manual uses the Passive House standard - a holistic approach to designing high performance building - as the basis for sustainable and renewable practices and recommendations.


What does the Manual cover?

Each of the nine chapters focuses on a topic specific to Passive House design and construction, from determining whether Passive House is feasible for your project all the way through testing and verifying for Passive House certification. Construction and renovation guidance within the Manual was informed and supported by data garnered from charrettes conducted throughout 2018 and 2019, known as the Passive Rowhouse Demonstration Project. Recommendations were also backed by years of experience working on personal and professional Passive House projects, as well as general design and construction projects.

Who should read the Manual?

We created the Manual for developers, contractors, and other professionals who have general familiarity or technical expertise in the Passive House standard. We encourage Manual users who are unfamiliar with Passive House building techniques to seek additional resources that are referenced within the Manual or readily available from other sources. The Manual is not intended to replace certified design professionals. If you are a builder, homeowner, and/or other professional and generally interested in the process of constructing or renovating residential rowhouses, the Manual is a useful guide, but not meant to be used as a stand alone document.

Who wrote the Manual?

Coordinated by Leah Wirgau* - Green Building United Education & Engagement Director - the Manual was a three-year endeavor of the Green Building United Passive House Community. Dedicated to incorporating Passive House design and construction into mainstream practice, our Passive House Community includes engineers, architects, designers, planners, consultants, students, and generally interested community members - from beginner to expert.

Thank you to all or our volunteers for dedicating thousands of hours developing and implementing Demonstration Project charrettes, and for collaborating on authoring, editing, and illustrating the final document. 


Passive Rowhouse Manual Team

Wolfram Arendt | Jeremy Avellino |Leslie Billhymer | Laura Blau* | Alex Bruce* | Ilka Cassidy | Amy Cornelius* | Mike Cronomiz |  Shannon Crooker* | Kit Elsworth | Stephen Finkelman* | Neil Goldman* | Steve Hessler | David Hincher | Angela Iraldi* |  Jon Jensen* | Scott Kelly | Chris Lee | Kent Lessly | Charles Loomis* | Darren Macri | Andrew McDowell | Jim Muhaw  | Shannon Pendleton* | Kevin Raab | Reid Rowlands* | Matt Seip | David Salamon | Mark Stutman | Paul Thompson* | Craig Toohey | Stephen Wayland* | Justin Weisser* | Leah Wirgau* | Sebastian Zawierucha*

*Indicates Manual authors, editors, and graphic designers


Can I contact someone with project specific questions?

We welcome you to connect with our Passive House Community co-facilitators for general questions, but please note, Green Building United staff and volunteers do not offer project consultation services. If seeking a Passive House Consultant or other expert, please visit our searchable directory for local options. 

The Passive Rowhouse Manual was made possible through the support of our grant funder and sponsors!

Sustainable Energy FundGrant Funder 

475 High Performance Building Supply

INTUS Windows

Kitchen & Associates

MaGrann Associates

McDonald Group


Stego Industries, LLC

manual pg 1 alex rowhouse sketch
Image Credit: Alex Bruce

If you use the Passive Rowhouse Manual, drop us a line! We would love to hear your story. Until then, we wish you all the best in your rowhouse retrofit journey.  We are excited to have shared our knowledge and experience to help guide you through this process!

Green Building United Legacy Partners

Green Building United Platinum Partners

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