The passive design approach starts with the most important consideration - reducing the environmental load of the building on the environment. This includes optimization of the building form and orientation to control heat gain, heat loss, and optimize the use of daylighting. In Canada, durable and heavily insulated building envelopes are used that provide value over the life of the building (unlike fancy, but sexy, high technologies such as solar voltaics, wind turbines, and such that have service lives. In addition shifting demand to off peak periods can reduce utility infrastructure requirements.
Harvest Free Energy
With knowledge of local climate conditions and site specific characteristics, free energy from the sun can be used for heating, daylighting and ventilation (wind). Building materials can used to control and direct energy within the building. Natural shade such as vegetation, or architectural devices such as overhangs and louvers can control heat gain and daylighting. On site renewable energy systems such as geoexchange, solar photo voltaic, solar hot water, wind turbines, etc. can be used to supplement energy from the sun.
Once passive design techniques have been maximized, an integrated design approach with energy modelling informs the design to maximize the any additional energy required in a highly efficiency manner.
Recover Waste Energy
A final aspect in reducing energy use is to recover any waste energy from exhaust air and waste water and other technologies such as co-generation.
The City of Vancouver has created a passive design toolkit that addresses the specific needs of Vancouver, and outlines what ‘passive’ means for Vancouver. City of Vancouver Residential Passive Design Toolkit and City of Vancouver Large Building Passive Design Toolkit.