Sustainable Architecture Design

Sustainable Architecture Design

Sustainable Architecture Design

by Dr. John Peterson, PhD, FPA-BM Chairman of the Board

Rationale for Curriculum Need and Purpose

Architectural education plays a fundamental role in training future building designers. Since buildings consume approximately 50 percent of the world’s resources (Al-Hassan & Dudek, 2009), over the last several years the interest in sustainable design has grown exponentially among design professionals, educators and students. The rise of the US Green Building Council and its LEED rating system – LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) created LEED as a rating system for green building – has led an unprecedented demand for professionals that understand sustainable design, and can apply its principles to the design of buildings and communities. Students that leave architectural courses prepared with this knowledge have an important advantage over students who have taken a more traditional approach. A growing list of leading firms across the country are now insisting on green architecture knowledge as a pre-requisite for hiring, suggesting that sustainability has finally entered the mainstream. Many students are finding that LEED accreditation on their resume is just as important as knowledge of industry-related software applications.

An opportunity exists for architectural drafting programs to embrace this future by providing a coursework that teaches the basics of sustainable design to their students. The construction-related journal, Contractor (2009), in a new study from the U.S. Green Building Council and Booz Allen Hamilton, a strategy and technology consulting firm, stated that despite a challenging economic outlook, green building will support 7.9 million U.S. jobs and generate $554 billion into the U.S. economy, including $396 billion in wages over the next four years. Robin Pogrebin (2009) stated on the article Architects Return to Class as Green Design Advances published on The New York Times:

This kind of expertise is now being applied to every aspect of design and construction, from how materials are transported to and disposed of at a work site, to the tools and machines used, to consideration of how a building will perform over the next half-century (Pogredin, 2009).

Definition of Sustainable Architecture Design

Sustainable architecture is designing buildings keeping in mind environmental goals and sustainable development. The terms green architecture or green buildings are often used interchangeably with sustainable architecture to promote this definition further. In a broader sense and taking into account the pressing economic and political issues, sustainable architecture seeks to reduce the negative environmental impact of the buildings by increasing efficiency and moderation in the utilization of building materials, energy and development space. Similarly, green architecture denotes economical, energy-saving, environmentally-friendly, sustainable development and explores the relationship between architecture and ecology (Brister, 2007).

As the global financial crisis continues to threaten the livelihood of American businesses and workers – and halts both the momentum and quality of new, sustainable infrastructure – the nation confronts a double challenge: not only are building projects at a standstill, but we risk losing to other careers many of the professionals needed to design and construct the next generation of green buildings (McEntee, 2009).

Curriculum Alignment with Institution’s Mission Statement and Philosophy

Curriculum alignment is the first and arguably the most important step in increasing student achievement relative to the curriculum frameworks and criterion and norm referenced assessments.

Learners of the Sustainable Architecture Design Course

For the younger generation, this area provides a wide variety of opportunities for workers to find jobs they consider meaningful, impactful and important. It also provides an older generation of workers the ability to mentor and use the depth and breadth of their experience to improve upon the existing infrastructure of the nation and truly bring it up to 21st century standards (McEntee, 2009).

Desired Outcomes of the Curriculum

Course outcomes are major results that all graduates of the Sustainable Architecture Design course are expected to achieve. They are specific to the target occupation, professional area, and discipline. By achieving the competencies in this course, students will build some of skills, abilities, and attitudes required by the course outcomes. Prior to finishing the course students will need to demonstrate that they have achieved the Sustainable Architecture Design course outcomes by completing all the required performance assessments. When students perform these assessments they will create products such as portfolios, models, or samples that they can use to document their qualifications for prospective employers or higher education.

This course will help students work toward the achievement of the following course goals and outcomes:


  • Explains the philosophy and underpinnings of effective integrative design, addressing systems thinking and building and community design from a whole-living system perspective
  • Details how to implement integrative design from the discovery phase to occupancy, supported by process outlines, itemized tasks, practice examples, case studies, and real-world stories illustrating the nature of this work
  • Explores the deeper understanding of integration that is required to transform architectural practice and our role on the planet


Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Apply sustainable architectural concepts and applications to all aspects of the design process
  • Apply use of perspective and projected-view drawing practices
  • Describe documents required for construction practices
  • Design residential or commercial plans, elevations, sections, and details using industry standards of construction rules
  • Apply the design creation process
  • Discuss and describe architectural drawing practices
  • Accurately develop and use Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD) drawing functions
  • Apply dimensioning of architectural drawings
  • Use and apply basic Building Information Modeling (BIM) software menus and commands
  • Use correct BIM software systems on creation of green architecture
  • Access and use BIM software menu structure, geometry editing functions, BIM software command entities, and accurately develop and use BIM software drawing setup
  • Accurately apply dimension drawing according to accepted drafting standards

Core Values of Sustainable Architecture Design Course

Students of the Sustainable Architecture Design course shall:

  • Act responsibly
  • Communicate clearly and effectively
  • Demonstrate essential computer skills
  • Demonstrate essential mathematical skills
  • Develop job-seeking skills
  • Respect self and others as members of a diverse society
  • Think critically and creatively
  • Work cooperatively
  • Value learning

Course Attendance

Importance of class attendance

Class attendance contributes significantly to academic success. Students who attend classes regularly tend to earn higher grades and have higher passing rates in courses. Excessive absences may jeopardize their grades or even their ability to continue in this course.

Class absences

If students are absent from class for any reason they are responsible for all missed work and for promptly contacting the instructor.

Course External Standards

External Standards are credentialing requirements established by external organizations such as professional associations, regulatory agencies, consumer groups, hiring organizations, accreditation organizations, or government agencies to create shared expectations for quality.

The standards for the Sustainable Architecture DesignCourse have been set by ADDA (American Drafting and Design Association). By constructing the Architectural Design course so that it meets the ADDA standards, we increase the credibility of all its graduates.

Independent Work

Periodically throughout the course students will be asked to participate in independent activities, which may take several different forms, such as independent study, interactive instruction, laboratory exercises, research, internet exploration, and job shadowing. These activities are an integral part of the total curriculum, but will have minimal instructor involvement. They provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities to work independently to meet a designated goal as well as to show development in the various core abilities associated with the course.

Instruction Techniques and Strategies

This course will follow a goal-based model for instruction. According to Glatthorn, Boschee, & Whitehead (2006, p. 131), this goal-based model has several features that recommend it.

Method of Course Delivery

Dr. Bob Kizlik (2009) wrote on the ADPRIMA website, that direct and indirect instruction are two main categories that many educators find useful for classifying teaching methods, but it is a bit more complicated than placing all instruction into two categories. Any instructional method a teacher uses has advantages, disadvantages, and requires some preliminary preparation. Often times, a particular teaching method will naturally flow into another, all within the same lesson, and excellent teachers have developed the skills to make the process seamless to the students. Very well said

Table 2 – The most effective instructional methods according to Kizlik (2009) to be used on this course:

Cooperative learning




It helps foster mutual responsibility.

It is supported by research as an effective technique.

Students learn to be patient, less critical and more compassionate.

Some students don’t work well this way.

Loners find it hard to share answers.

Aggressive students try to take over.

Bright students tend to act superior.

Decide what skills or knowledge is to be learned.

It requires some time to prepare students to learn how to work in groups.





Factual material is presented in a direct, logical manner.
It may provide experiences that inspire – useful for large groups.

Proficient oral skills are necessary.
Audience is often passive.
Learning is difficult to gauge

There should be a clear introduction and summary.
Effectiveness related to time and scope of content.

Lecture with discussion




It involves students, at least after the lecture.
Students can question, clarify and challenge.
Lecture can be interspersed with discussion.

Time constraints may affect discussion opportunities.
Effectiveness is connected to appropriate questions and discussion.

It often requires teacher to “shift gears” quickly.

Teacher should be prepared to allow questions during lecture, as appropriate.
Teacher should also anticipate difficult questions and prepare appropriate responses in advance.





It is a listening exercise that allows creative thinking for new ideas.
It encourages full participation because all ideas are equally recorded.
It draws on group’s knowledge and experience.
Spirit of cooperation is created.
One idea can spark other ideas.

It can be unfocused.
It needs to be limited to 5 – 7 minutes.
Students may have difficulty getting away from known reality.
If not managed well, criticism and negative evaluation may occur.
Value to students depends in part on their maturity level.

Teacher selects issue.
Teacher must be ready to intervene when the process is hopelessly bogged down.

Video and slides




It is an entertaining way of introducing content and raising issues.
It usually keeps group’s attention.
It looks professional.
It stimulates discussion.

It can raise too many issues to have a focused discussion.
Discussion may not have full participation.
It is most effective when following discussion.

Need to obtain and set up equipment.
Effective only if teacher prepares for discussion after the presentation





It pools ideas and experiences from group.
It is effective after a presentation, film or experience that needs to be analyzed.
It allows everyone to participate in an active process.

Not practical with more than 20 students.
A few students can dominate.
Some students may not participate.
Is time consuming.
It can get off the track.

It requires careful planning by teacher to guide discussion.
It requires question outline.

Small group discussion




It allows for participation of everyone.
Students are often more comfortable in small groups.
Groups can reach consensus

It needs careful thought as to purpose of group.
Groups may get side tracked.

Need to prepare specific tasks or questions for group to answer.

Case studies




It develops analytic and problem solving skills.
It allows for exploration of solutions for complex issues.
It allows student to apply new knowledge and skills.

Students may not see relevance to own situation.
Insufficient information can lead to inappropriate results.
Not appropriate for elementary level.

Case must be clearly defined.
Case study must be prepared.

Worksheet and surveys




It allows students to think for them without being influenced by others.
Individual thoughts can then be shared in large group.

It can be used only for short period of time.

Teacher has to prepare handouts.

Guest speakers




It personalizes topic.
It breaks down audience’s stereotypes.

It may not be a good speaker.

Contact speakers and coordinate.
Introduce speaker appropriately.

Values clarification




It gives students an opportunity to explore values and beliefs.
It allows students to discuss values in a safe environment.
It gives structure to discussion.

Students may not be honest about their values.
Students may be too self-conscious.
Students may not be able to articulate their values in an effective way.

Teacher must carefully prepare exercise.
Teacher must give clear instructions.
Teacher must prepare discussion questions.

Learning and Assessment Activities

“Assessment is a process of gathering information for the purpose of making judgments about a current state of affairs” (Pellegrino, 2002). In educational assessment, the information collected is designed to help teachers, administrators, policymakers, and the public conclude what students know and how well they know it, presumably for the purpose of enhancing future outcomes. The learning activities for each Lesson Plan tell students what they can do to master the learning objectives and competencies. They are their assignments.

Performance-Based Course

The student’s success is the main goal of any learning experience. In performance-based learning, the instructor carefully identifies what students need to be able to do as a result of a learning experience. Next, the instructor determines how students can show that they have learned these skills. Finally, the instructor plans learning activities that will help students develop the target skills, knowledge, and attitudes.

Table 3

Performance-based learning tasks according to Dr. Carol Gordon (2001)

Authentic Learning Task Content
  • is meaningful, grows out of academic principles
  • is derived from standards/curriculum
  • requires learners to use tools of the expert
  • provides opportunities for problem solving, decision making
  • offers learners opportunities for display, presentation, sharing of outcomes

Authentic Learning Task MethodologyThe learner

  • relates new information to prior knowledge
  • applies information to new situations
  • uses divergent, critical thinking
  • is actively engaged in a variety of tasks
  • has choices
  • has opportunities for revision, self and peer evaluation
  • has opportunities to work in a group

Authentic Learning Task Design

  • expectations and outcomes are clear
  • exemplars are provided
  • resources are identified and required
  • assessment tool is appropriate for the task
  • learners participate in developing the assessment
  • learners evaluate the task
  • educators critique and revise the task based on evidence collected

Benefits for students

  1. Students will learn skills and knowledge that they can apply, rather than outlines of information.
  2. Instructors tell students right up front WHAT they learn, how instructors expect students to show WHEN students have learned, and HOW students may go about learning. This helps instructors plan how to invest student’s time and energy.
  3. Students know the standards for evaluation before the assessment. Students earn a grade according to how well they perform the skills rather than according to how well others in the class perform. Students are not graded on a curve.
  4. Students are actively involved in the learning. Instructors design learning activities and assignments that teach students to solve problems and to learn on their own.
  5. When students complete a learning experience, they have documentation showing the skills and knowledge they have learned. Students can use this information when they seek employment, admission to further education, advanced standing or transfer of credit.

Students’ Assessment and Measures of Outcomes

Course Evaluation Strategies (Methodologies)

The course evaluation strategy will be based on a Consensus Model, using Traditional and Technical Evaluation. According to McNeil (2009), the purpose of evaluation is to decide on the value of a curricular intervention within a course. A significant difference in student performance during and after the intervention may be taken as evidence that the intervention had a positive effect (p. 228).

Technology Components

The subject matter in this course will be presented in the form of lectures, class discussion, demonstrations, collaborative activities, computer assignments, student projects and presentations, on-line research as well as guest speakers and field trips when deemed appropriate. The classroom will be set up as a computer laboratory, with personal computer workstations available to individual students. The classroom shall have a projector and a screen installed, with an allocated computer for the projector. Also the classroom shall have a large format printer, a laser printer for smaller prints, and a scanner. The instructor shall have a digital camera made available by the school for class assignments.


Al-Hassan, A., & Dudek, S. (2009). Sustainable architecture education in Kuwait University and the impact of the society in the learning process [Abstract]. Journal of the World Universities Forum, 1(2), 21-28. Abstract retrieved from (2009). The Integrative design guide to green building: Redefining the practice of sustainability. Retrieved from (2009). The philosophy of sustainable design. Retrieved from

Brister, W. (2007, September 3). Sustainable green architecture [Article]. Retrieved from

Contractor Magazine (2009, November 12). New study: green building will support 8 million U.S. jobs [Article]. Retrieved from

Glatthorn, A., Boschee, F., & Whitehead, B. (2006). Curriculum leadership: Development and implementation (1st ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Gordon, C. (2001, June 1). Performance learning and assessment: The wave of the future [PowerPoint slides]. Boston University. Retrieved from

McEntee, C. (2009, October 30). In American Institute of Architects (Ed.), Building and greening key to jumpstarting the economy [Article]. Retrieved from

McNeil, J. (2009). Contemporary curriculum: In thought and action (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Pellegrino, J. (2002). Knowing what students know. Issues in Science and Technology, 48(2).

Pogrebin, R. (2009, August 19). In New York Times (Ed.), Architects return to class as green design advances [Article]. Retrieved from

The FPA-BM has as Chairman of the Board Dr. John Peterson, Ph.D. A leading education specialist for over 15 years, Dr. John Peterson is a published author and the creator and implementer of several undergraduate and graduate programs. Emphasizing practical access to learning methodologies, Dr. Peterson has developed curricula focused on online and face-to-face training, optimizing new technologies for the benefit of his students’ achievements in real-world careers. In addition, Dr. Peterson is an experienced consultant to the requirements of the Florida Department of Education regarding the licensing and compliance of new institutions.