High-Rise & Large Commercial Passive House Design - MEP Systems (Lois Arena, Brandon Nicholson, Monte Paulsen)

4 Hour Afternoon Workshop • 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM • Thursday, Oct. 18


Lois Arena, Brandon Nicholson, and Monte Paulsen will share learning from some of the largest Passive House projects in North America during the second of a two-part workshop series on high-rise and large commercial Passive House design. This afternoon session will examine best approaches to mechanical system design.

Lois will draw on her experience with the Cornell Tech high-rise residential tower known as The House, as well as the 33-story mixed use project in Harlem, Sendero Verde. Brandon will share a design approach honed by five major Passive House projects in Pittsburgh and Seattle, as well as NK’s current 500+ unit residential tower in Montgomery County, Maryland. Monte will share lessons learned from the first several multi-unit Passive House projects in British Columbia. The three will discuss go-to MEP design strategies for large Passive House buildings and how to overcome common challenges related to ventilation, heating/cooling, and domestic hot water design.


Lois Arena is the Director of Passive House Services at SWA. She possesses over 25 years of experience in the building energy field. She has conducted applied research in condensing boiler technology, whole house ventilation strategies, and the moisture performance of high R-value walls. Ms. Arena has extensive experience with new and existing buildings including on-site testing and diagnostics, design assistance and energy modeling. She has co-authored and presented training programs about energy efficient building practices to professionals in all sectors of the building industry. Lois holds both US and international Passive House consultant certifications, and is currently consulting on projects ranging from single-family homes to high-rise apartment buildings. Notable projects include; The House at Cornell Tech, which is currently the tallest Passive House in the world; 425 Grand Concourse; and Beach Green North. Ms. Arena is regularly invited to present at conferences around the world on a variety of Passive House topics.


Founding Principal of NK, Brandon is dedicated to reducing the impact of buildings on global climate change. A developer in his own right, he uses his own projects to research and develop best practices for cost-effective delivery of zero carbon buildings. He serves as president of Passive House Western Pennsylvania and board member of North American Passive House Network. Brandon and NK have won numerous awards for management and design, including the 2014 AIA Housing Award for Park Passive, the first certified Passive House in Seattle, and the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s 2017 Innovation and Design Award, in partnership with Thoughtful Balance, for Morningside Crossing which is a large scale Passive House retrofit of an abandoned Pittsburgh school building into affordable housing for seniors.


Monte Paulsen is one of Canada’s most experienced Passive House professionals. He has consulted to more than 50 Passive House projects, including single-family, townhome, mid-rise, high-rise, and mixed-use developments. He has taught for Passive House Canada, and is a regular speaker at Passive House conferences in the U.S. and Europe. And he is a Building Certifier accredited by the international Passive House Institute, based in Darmstadt, Germany. Based in Vancouver, Monte leads the Passive House team at RDH Building Science, with offices in eight cities across the US and Canada.