2.2 A Curriculum Model for Sustainable Environmental Design
Proposed Courses, Flowchart, and Course Descriptions and Sample Courses

• Proposed Courses for Sustainable Environmental Design

Courses in a sustainable environmental design curriculum serving landscape architecture and architecture professions blend history, theory, visual communications, materials and methods of construction, structures, environmental systems,and site, all within the context of social, economic, and environmental issues. SEDE differentiates itself from existing curricula in that students from landscape and architecture collaborate in core courses and only differentiate themselves through electives that provide deeper knowledge and specialization. Sample syllabi are listed with course descriptions below.

For sample syllabi of the "greening" efforts at Cal Poly-SLO click on Sustainable Design (for design-related courses) or Sustainability (for all university courses).

Proposed Course Titles

1. Sustainable Orienteering: Preparatory Course
2. Introduction to Issues of the Built Environment
3. Sustainable Design I: Foundation Course
4. Sustainable Design II: Site and Microclimate Design
5. Sustainable Design III: Integrated Design - Building & landscape ecology
6. Sustainable Design IV: Integrated Design - Constructability & economics
7. Sustainable Design V: Comprehensive Studio Project
8. Co-operative Education Experience
9. Materials and Methods of Construction
10. Design Development and Buiilding Systems Integration
11. Environmental Systems
12. Structural Systems
13. Architectural and Landscape History of Sustainable Design Ideas in the Built Environment
14. Professional Electives for Landscape and Architecture
15. General Education and Breadth

 

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• Proposed Flowchart

Using an architecture curriculum as an example, there are four major groupings of coursework: Design, Professional Practice (including structures and environmental systems), History and Theory, and General Education.

» Click on the BOXES below to read course descriptions.

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• Sustainable Design Proposed Course Descriptions

• Sustainable Orienteering: Preparatory Course

This core course would teach students to recognize their own preconceptions about society, economic value, and the environment and how to overcome frailties in the system through design. This is a form of sustainable design “boot camp” (similar to Outward Bound or Peace Corps program training) where students have an intensive, personally challenging experience to begin rethinking the world around them.

Instructional Objectives:

Students in this course will learn...
I. To recognize their own cultural biases and attitudes.
II. To see through the eyes of others.
III. To become self-reliance through creativity.

This course takes place over more than one term (typically one year) and builds in complexity. The traditional disciplines of landscape and architecture are merged.

Samples Courses: Ecological Design-Build and Alaska Outward Build

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• Introduction to Issues of the Built Environment: Ecology, Economics, and Ethics

Students in most professional programs begin with a survey course covering the interaction between their future profession and society. This core course could be expanded on to support more emphasis on environmental issues. A number of introductory courses on sustainability already exist.

Samples Courses I: Sustainability in the Built Environment and associated exercise
Samples Course II: Green Architecture and Health

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• Sustainable Design I: Foundation Course

The first design course in sustainable design education will teach students about (a) the importance of design in society and in their lives, (b) a definition of design, (c) the tools, skills, and processes, and (d) design vocabulary. In traditional "basic design" courses, students were taught to simplify through abstraction. In sustainable design, students are taught to retain the complexity of real situations and create solutions that reflect holistic thinking. This first course will emphasize the social and cultural aspects of design as students compare worldviews, attitudes, and artifacts from different cultures.

Instructional Objectives:

Students in this course will learn...
I. The importance of sustainable design.
II. The definition of sustainable design.
III. The tools, skills, and processes for sustainable design.
IV. A sustainable design vocabulary.

(expanded outline)

This course would be one year in duration with progressively more challenging projects. The traditional disciplines of landscape and architecture are merged.

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• Sustainable Design II: Site and Microclimatic Design

The second major design course series focuses on a site based project that builds on the lessons of Sustainable Design I (cultural response) in generating project solutions. Students will bridge traditional disciplines of architecture and landscape architecture through a site-context based design project. Building elements are simple programmatic functions that have important inside-outside relationships with their site-contextual setting.

Instructional Objectives:

Students in this course will learn...
I. To develop an understanding of the land in terms of aesthetic, experiential, ethical, and technical issues.
II. To develop aesthetic abilities through spatial, kinesthetic, and visual (Arts & Crafts) experiences.
III. To generate site and building designs that link physical, aesthetic, and cultural forms and processes from large (global) to small (local) scale.

(expanded outline)

This course takes place over more than one term (typically one year) and builds in complexity. The traditional disciplines of landscape and architecture are merged
to cover the breadth of design issues in the project.

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• Sustainable Design III: Integrated Design - Building and landscape ecology

The third major design course series focuses on a real site-client based project that combines the lessons of Sustainable Design I (cultural response) and II (site issues) with advanced applications of design theory (aesthetics, function, technical considerations) in generating project solutions.

Instructional Objectives:

Students in this course will learn...
I. Focused schematic design of complex building and site using nested (fractal) scale.
II. Translation of client program issues into built form.
III. A replicable design process that uses feedback mechanisms such as measurable environmental impacts to generate and test alternative design solutions.

This course consists of several design projects over a year of increasing complexity with landscape and architecture students working together throughout.

Samples Course: Landscape Ecology (core course to supplement studio)

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• Sustainable Design IV: Integrated Design - Constructability and economics

The fourth major design course series combines the lessons of Sustainable Design I (cultural response), II (site issues), and III (integrated design) with the added requirement of economics and constructability in generating project solutions. Constructability includes working within a regulatory environment as well as identifying building solutions that match local labor and materials resources, scheduling, and other project management functions in a complex setting (such as urban scale or brownfield sites).

Instructional Objectives:

Students in this course will learn...
I. Project design development and constructability issues.
II. Consideration of economic issues such as life-cycle costing.

III. Project evaluation using LEED™ Rating system.

This course consists of several design projects over a year of increasing complexity with landscape and architecture students working together throughout.

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• Sustainable Design V: Comprehensive Studio Project

The final design course in the series combines the lessons of the previous courses. The project scope allows for detailed project development with participation from consultants at each stage of the design process (planning, engineering, interiors, etc.).

Instructional Objectives:

Students in this course will demonstrate...
I. How to design for a client's needs and project uses.
II. How to analyze a design project using the nested (fractal) scale approach.
III. How to generate and test a series of alternative schemes based on sustainable design principles.
IV. How to integrate design development and constructability issues.
V. How to assess economic issues such as life-cycle costing.

VI.How to exceed the LEED™ Rating system's highest standard.

This course consists of several design projects over a year of increasing complexity with landscape and architecture students working together throughout.

Samples Courses: Sustainable Building Studio and class schedule

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• Sustainable Design V: Thesis

This core course emphasizes architectural theory and design tools related to the fifth year studio course.

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• Co-operative Education Experience (or Internship)
This core course gives students academic credit for real world experience in design, construction, or other environmental design field (such as planning or interiors).

Instructional Objectives:

Students in this course will gain...

I. Internship experience in the construction field – “get out there!”
a. Habitat for Humanity
b. Builders without Borders
c. Workshops
d. Community college building programs

II. Office practice experience.
a. Interdisciplinary firm (multiple disciplines present in one firm or as team)
b. Experience in practice of another discipline (e.g., architect interns in landscape firm)


Students should have a common skill set early in their careers (such as drawing or CAD) that will allow them to explore a number of different disciplinary settings. Students should be encouraged to explore the range of environmental design fields. This experience should be repeated as students advance through sustainable design course work. In some cases, they may be the most experienced with sustainability in the firm (similar to what happenned with CAD in the 1980s).

Sample course: San Francisco Urban Design Internship Program

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• Materials and Methods of Sustainable Construction

This core course teaches the principles of wood, steel, concrete, plastics, and alternative materials in the context of sustainable design.

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•Design Development and Green Building Systems Integration

This core course teaches students how to write specifications, develop site designs, properly address handicapped accessibility, detail roof, wall, and floor sections, as well as integrated building electrical, mechanical, and structural systems.

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• Architecture and Landscape Architecture History of Sustainable Design Ideas in the Built Environment

This core course introduces the emerging and enduring ideas of sustainable design in landscape and architecture. The course provides a social, economic and environmental context for the sustainability principles that are applied to design projects.

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• Environmental Systems

This core course introduces design with climate and site resources for conservation, efficiency, and appropriateness to the local, regional, and global contexts. Fundamentals of thermal, lighting, acoustical, aqueous, and waste are covered. Passive solar heating and cooling are taught as well as HVAC and associated issues of indoor air quality, energy and power consumption.

Sample course: Building Technology

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• Structural Systems

This core course introduces the basics of statics, mechanics, and structural systems.

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• Professional Electives: Advanced Topics for Landscape and Architecture

Support courses in sub-topics listed below would complement and allow for specialization in the curriculum. This is where the differentiation between landscape and architecture professions occurs.

  • Alternative materials
  • Daylighting
  • Energy simulation
  • ... Natural ventilation

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• General Education

Students in undergraduate programs have as part of their degree requirements, General Education and Breadth (GEB) support courses. As an example, the course categories for Cal Pol-SLO are listed here.

  • Communications (wriing, speech, and reasoning)
  • Science and Mathematics
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Society and the Individual
  • Technology elective

Many of these courses can include content related to ecological literacy. A few examples are included in the flow chart above (eg., Eco-Lit, Environmental Ethics, and Energy for a Sustainable Society).

 

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