Two very green home courses will be held in Toronto in the next little while.

The first one is a certified Passive House Training course, being held at Ryerson University in two phases: Phase one, July 31-Aug 4th, 2012 and Phase two, August 20th-23rd, 2012. Passive House certification seems to be gaining ground in Canada. Ross Elliot, the course leaders, is a Passive House Certified Trainer/Consultant. To give you some idea of how quickly Passive House building is growing, Ross is currently working on 8 Passive House projects, but anticipates to be working on another 30 this year. In a nutshell, Passive House building consists of building an envelope so tight while using passive solar heating techniques, that a traditional furnace is no longer needed to heat a home.

A study done in the spring of 2011 for the Canadian Home Builders Association found that energy- efficiency is now a “must have” feature for buyers and has become “significantly more important”  to Canadian consumers. A series of U.S. studies in recent years reveal green features are a key factor for consumers:

  • 70% of buyers are willing to pay more for a green home
  • 80% of buyers would choose the most energy-efficient home
  • 55% list “green” features as an important part of the decision to purchase
  • 70% of homebuyers are more likely to buy green in a tough economy
  • 79% are willing to pay more for a home with predictable energy costs
“Buildings in Canada plus their associated electricity use currently exceed all transportation emissions combined. Why are people still content to build leaky, uncomfortable, energy guzzling homes when we know a better way?” asks Elliott.

This course will teach you to implement Passive House principles in residential, commercial, and retrofit scenarios. Topics will include;

  • Principles of Passive House design – heat transfer, air-tightness, super-insulation, ventilation and moisture control
  • Instruction in the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP), a powerful and precise energy modelling software
  • Minimizing mechanical systems (Energy Recovery Ventilation)
  • Passive House construction examples plus materials selection and trainees will perform cost optimization and economic feasibility studies
  • Quality Assurance techniques

The nine-day PHIUS Passive House Consultants Training is approved for GBCI CE Hours (32 hours)

In addition to himself, Elliot has assembled a team of experienced Passive House instructors to teach the course.

Elliott’s team includes:

  • Russell Richman, CEO of Russell Richman Consulting Ltd. an engineering firm in Toronto specializing in sustainable buildings. He is also an Assistant Professor of Building Science at Ryerson University
  • Ryan Abendroth, the Certification Manager at the Passive House Institute US and a Certified Passive House Consultant and Trainer. He is also Principal of Passive Energy Designs LLC in Missouri
  • Graham Irwin of California has worked in construction for more than twenty years and was one of the first Passive House Consultants in the US. He has a degree in physics with additional studies in engineering and architecture and he is Principal of Essential Habitat Consulting.

The cost of the course is $2250, plus $250 to take the Certified Passive House Consultant exam. The course also counts 32 hours towards GBCI (LEED continuing education) and AIA continuing education credits.

For more information on the Passive House course, visit the website.


The second course that’s coming to Toronto is an Earthship course, being held at the ROM theatre September 21-23rd, 2012. Cost is $400. The philosophy behind Earthship buildings is that buildings should use local, lowest impact materials possible to build a superior energy efficient dwelling. Usually, that means building with local refuse such as old tires, plastic, discarded water bottles, used glass bottles, etc. Energy consumed is from 100% renewable sources, rainwater is harvested, and waste is treated on site. In addition, you can usually grow some of your food inside and outside of an earthship. Houses tend to be of a whimsical nature that remind me of a cross between something out of Whoville and Luke Skywalker’s childhood home. To see some examples of Earthship dwellings, visit Kirsten Jacobsen’s Earthship page on Flickr.

Here is the itinerary for the course. Note that everyone who attends all three days will receive a certificate of completion.


Friday September 21
10:00am – 12:00pm
History of Earthships discussion/presentation of how and why they evolved.

2:00pm – 5:00pm
Solar/Thermal dynamics: discussion/presentation of how the Earthships heat and cool themselves and how this is integrated with the structure and climate.

Saturday September 22
10:00am – 12:00pm
Custom Earthships: discussion/presentation on custom Earthships and how to design them.

2:00pm – 5:00pm
Earthship Systems: discussion/presentation of specific details of the Earthship Systems independent power, water, sewage and food production.

Sunday September 23
10:00am – 12:30pm
Earthship Disaster Relief projects around the world discussion/presentation of how Earthships are evolved by
these projects.

2:00pm – 5:00pm
Types of Earthships – discussion/presentation of the various types of Earthships and how to get started on your own.

***UPDATE***July 11, 2012

I was just contacted by Chris Magwood of the Endeavour Centre, based in Peterborough who asked me to pass along a few courses the centre is also offering:

On July 26 we’re presenting Architecture After Oil, a public talk by California designer and engineer Bruce King, who heads up the Ecological Building Network and has written several key books on earthen and straw bale building.

On July 27, Bruce King is teaming up with another influential engineer, John Straube (of for a professional seminar called Engineering Outside the Box.

Both of these events are being held at Ryerson University, The Pit, 325 Church Street. The web link for these events on our site is

We’re also putting on a Make Your Own Solar Shower workshop on July 29, an Earthen Floors workshop on August 19 and a How to Design Your Own Sustainable Home workshop on Oct 13-14. The link to workshop listings is



BEC Green

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