Passive Design/Build™️ core curriculum | CPHT Exam Prep Course (Certified Passive House Tradesperson)

STEP 1: Learn Passive, the gold standard in building science.

Who should take this training?

This course is for design/build & construction professionals who are concerned about moisture control, air sealing, thermal bridging, healthy indoor air, durability, resiliency, and affordability of high-performance.

  • limit liability & increase credibility
  • avoid hidden mold & condensation
  • exceed IECC air leakage requirements
  • learn best practices & building science
Our Passive Design/Build™️ core curriculum prepares students for the PHI Certified Passive House Tradesperson (CPHT) Exam. In fact, our alumni have a 96% pass rate, compared to 88% internationally!

Jump to explore the curriculum.

TRAINING ALERTS: Less than 5 seats remaining in the Dec 11-15 Colorado Passive Design/Build Boot Camp! Registration OPEN for the 2024 Online Winter Crew (Live Q&A’s: Wed 3-4pm MT; Jan 10, 17, 24, 31 + Feb 7, 14).

Upcoming course sessions:

Many of our courses are available stand-alone or as part of an Online Remote Bundle or Boot Camp. Please be sure to select the correct registration link. Questions? Please contact or call (833) WILD-EMU.

Contact us to inquire about late registration availability.

Register by Jan 5, 2024

Tell us your Passive Design/Build Training wishes! We shall try our very hardest to grant them. We’re on a mission to get more qualified construction professionals and CPHTs in as many U.S. cities as we can.


This format is for those who like raising their hands and calling out, “Yo, Teach!” The traditional classroom setting allows you to set aside one big chunk of time to learn some serious building science in the live company of colleagues and an Emu Trainer. Usually, students choosing this option are joining us for the hands-on portion as well, the 2-day Passive Pod Workshop. We bundle these two together for a 4-day intensive Boot Camp, which is offered regularly in Colorado and on the road throughout the year.

What's included in the In-Person Format?

  • Emu’s core Passive Design/Build™️curriculum
  • 16 total hours of live instruction from Emu Trainer
  • Textbook is provided on first day of class
  • Healthy lunch is provided in (most) locations
  • Can be taken as part of a 4-day hands-on Boot Camp
  • You get to meet Wild Emus in person!


This format has been referred to as “The best of both worlds” by our alumni. Flexible, self-paced, on-demand course with live, weekly online Q&A sessions with the Emu Trainer. Break the chains of commitment to a time and place! Students typically setting aside about one half-day a week for 5 weeks to cover 2 Units each session. When finished, this course prepares them to either add on a 2-day in-person, hands-on Passive Pod Workshop, or jump straight to taking the CPHT accreditation exam.

What's included in the Online Format?

  • Emu’s core Passive Design/Build™️curriculum
  • 18+ total hours of recorded on-demand content
  • Online comprehension quizzes after each Unit
  • Textbook shipped to you (essential for Exam takers)
  • 6 weekly, live, 1-hr Q&A sessions with Trainer
  • One year access to content with option to renew

Explore our Curriculum

Written explicitly for the North American market and climate zones, with examples from a range of construction methods, building typologies, and performance levels.

Unit 1: Passive House Basics

  • Review pioneer projects of the Passive House movement, and a number of built examples including different climate zones, building typologies and sizes.
  • Learn the definition of the Passive House building standard and compare it to other concepts e.g.: Passive Solar and Net Zero.
  • Appraise the cornerstones of the Passive House building thermal envelope, and how they affect health and comfort as well as energy efficiency.
  • Familiarize yourself with different players of the Passive House landscape, including research, training, quality assurance and certification.

Unit 2: Passive House Economics in North America

  • Compare Passive House to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)
  • Learn to identify value for quality thermal envelopes in terms of energy, health, comfort, indoor air quality.
  • Compare capital and operational savings for Passive House buildings.
  • Review key factors in the economics of high-performance building, including investment timeframe, energy market and thermal discomfort.

Unit 3: Thermal Insulation and Thermal Mass

  • Identify key performance differences between thermal insulation and thermal mass, and how they impact different types of buildings.
  • Familiarize yourself with thermal resistance and thermal transmittance of building assemblies and compare the Passive House method with the simplified IECC one.
  • Compare typical U-values for Passive House building in different climate zones and compare them with IECC prescriptive method.
  • Review typical insulation materials, and their application depending on different construction methods.

Unit 4: Thermal Bridges

  • Familiarize yourself with the definition of Thermal Bridge.
  • Learn about the consequences of Thermal Bridges on building energy performance and risk for mold and condensation.
  • Review climate-specific metrics to verify avoidance/mitigation of thermal bridges, and suitability for Passive House.
  • Identify typical thermal bridges for different construction methods, their risk level and cost-effective ways to mitigate them.

Unit 5: Windows and Transparent Components

  • Familiarize yourself with the Comfort Criterion PH requirement and compare it to the Hygiene Criterion.
  • Compare thermal performance of PH windows with IECC ones and the consequences on thermal comfort and heating/cooling demand.
  • Identify subcomponents of windows and transparent components and understand their implications for heat loss and solar gains.
  • Review different typical installation details for Passive House windows and how detailing impacts performance.

Unit 6: Existing Buildings

  • Recap Passive House quality goals in the context of retrofitting existing buildings.
  • Understand the potential energy savings in building retrofits, and best practices to achieve most cost-effective solutions.
  • Analyze risks associated with retrofitting different types of building structures and ways to mitigate those risks.
  • Learn to apply the principles to a range of building typologies.

Unit 7: Air Tightness + Moisture Management

  • Familiarize yourself with different air and moisture transfer mechanisms and their consequences in terms of energy efficiency and building damages.
  • Learn about PHI’s air tightness requirements, depending on different energy efficiency goals.
  • Review key factors of the blower door testing method, including Passive House-specific requirements.
  • Evaluate best practices for durable air tightness depending on different assemblies and construction methods.

Unit 8: Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery

  • Identify key metrics for indoor air quality and typical sources of air pollution inside buildings.
  • Learn about PHI’s requirements for mechanical ventilation systems, including energy consumption and heat recovery efficiency, air filtration and noise control.
  • Evaluate common types of mechanical ventilation systems, incl. pros and cons depending on project application.
  • Review balancing and commissioning procedures for mechanical ventilation systems in Passive House building applications.

Unit 9: Efficient Heating, Cooling & Domestic Hot Water

  • Familiarize yourself with key concepts of mechanical systems including heating, cooling and dehumidification and domestic hot water.
  • Evaluate how energy efficiency of Passive House buildings influences the suitability of specific systems and their operation.
  • Review innovative types of mechanical systems.
  • Learn about Primary Energy in relation to different energy vectors and how that affects the energy offsetting process to meet Net Zero.

Unit 10: Quality Assurance

  • Review construction site photos and identify poorly executed details with regards to Passive House certification.
  • Pay particular attention to implementation of air tightness and thermal insulation details in the build.
  • Provide instructions on how to solve any issues you see. The solutions will be discussed in our Live Q&A session.

Emu’s CPHT Textbook, the “Bible” of Passive building

All Emu CPHT students receive a printed version of the coursework, which is allowed for use in the open-book CPHT Exam. It is highly recommended that you keep any notes in this book, as it is the only resource allowed on your desk during the exam.

At this time, you cannot order the textbook for self-study, as it is a visual aid to the audio content in the On-Demand Course or 2-day in-person instruction. Each book is single-use license only. To inquire about group rates, please call +1 (833) WILD-EMU.

Still have questions? Speak to an Emu!​

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