Free programme to bring passive house to UK architecture students

Free programme to bring passive house to UK architecture students

A new free-to-access training programme, Design Performance for Climate Action, provides architecture students across the UK with a solid foundation in climate-responsive building design – with passive house at its core.

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Developed collaboratively by experienced passive house training provider Coaction Training CIC and the Passivhaus Trust, alongside RIBA, the Standing Conference of Schools of Architecture (SCOSA), and the International Passive House Association (iPHA), this partnership has been formed so that together the organisations can do more, reach more people, and have more impact.

Design is the most powerful tool we have to improve the energy performance of buildings, both upfront and in use. This new course empowers architecture students with the knowledge and skills to design high-performance buildings, using the passive house standard as a proven and quality-assured route to achieving good building performance.

“This course is responding to a direct demand from industry for more climate conscious architects,” said Passivhaus Trust research and policy director Sarah Lewis. “We are excited to be upscaling passive house education in universities so that when architecture students graduate, they hit the ground running, embedding these skills in the practices where they work to have an immediate impact on the delivery of sustainable buildings in the UK.”

Buildings are a significant culprit of carbon emissions – accountable for 35 per cent of total global energy consumption. Passive house is a proven approach to reducing building energy use in addition to delivering high standards for comfort and occupant health.

The passive house standard adopts a whole-building approach focused on high-quality construction with clear, measured targets and certification through an exacting quality assurance process. The programme, ‘Design Performance for Climate Action,’ is tailored to support existing architecture teaching in the UK architecture schools. It addresses priority areas in the emerging RIBA climate knowledge literacy schedule and the ARB competencies that form the backbone of the curriculum.

“This is a huge opportunity for architects at the very start of their practice to gain access to Coaction’s community of trainers - each bringing their long-standing experience and expertise within the passive house industry,” said Coaction director Sally Godber, who is also a director of leading passive house certifiers WARM.

The course has been developed by a specialist team of low-energy experts and educators from Coaction Training CIC and the Passivhaus Trust, and critically examines the passive house standard, exploring its strengths and limitations over four modules, two of which cover the principles of building design for optimal performance, while the remaining two delve into the specifics of construction and services design.

“It is essential that all architecture students have access to tools that can support in their learning to develop sustainable approaches to designing buildings,” said Standing Conference of Schools of Architecture chair Prof Lorraine Farrelly. “This initiative, funded by SCOSA and other partners will ensure our students can have an understanding of passive house principles to inform their approach to sustainable design.”

The course materials, which are available to all UK schools of architecture students on an open-access basis, consist of online self-study modules. The partners’ ambition for the course is to expand opportunities for undergraduates and postgraduates in future years – including studio practice – empowering these students with tools and knowledge used in low-energy construction. It is also hoped that the programme may be adapted and rolled out to other disciplines once successfully up and running.

Climate literacy among architects is fundamental to delivering a low carbon future and we are committed to ensuring that the next generation have the knowledge and skills they need. This important initiative will provide schools with resources to ensure that each and every architecture student enters the profession with a firm grounding in the principles of climate-responsive design.

We are looking for supporters to help us widen this programme further and empower the next generation of climate responsible architects to deliver a low carbon future. If you’re interested in being part of the change or want to find out more about the project, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit


Last modified on Friday, 05 January 2024 15:26