Designing user-friendly passive buildings

This note was reviewed and approved for currency in August 2018.

Passive design is a fundamental feature of good building design. Going further than just good orientation and fabric design, designers are looking to integrate natural ventilation and other passive comfort control strategies with, or instead of, traditional electrical and mechanical services.

This note focuses on engaging building users in the operation of passively designed public buildings.

The note will assist architects and program managers of sustainable buildings to understand what their clients really want, and to deliver a building that its users can and will operate. It provides examples of common disconnects between client expectations and their experience of a building; and it shows how those problems can be avoided with some basic building-user engagement strategies. The note includes a case study analysis of three project types - a school, community and office building.

note summary
  1. Introduction
  2. Passive buildings in design and operation
  3. What clients say they want
  4. The ideal vs the actual occupant
  5. Common complaints
  6. How to avoid complaints
  7. Design considerations
  8. Training building users
  9. Conclusions