CND header AIA

AIA Home > SBSE Home > Teaching Resources > Carbon Neutral Design > Carbon Neutral Teaching > Boake - Pedagogical Overview

arrow Project Introduction

arrow What is Carbon Neutral Design?

arrow Carbon Neutral Design Process

arrow Carbon Neutral Design Strategies

arrow Carbon Calculation Protocols

arrow Carbon Calculation Tools

arrow Carbon Neutral Case Studies

arrow Carbon Neutral Teaching

Curriculum Projects Overview

Projects (by professor):

> Bagneid
dot Boake
Ecological/Carbon Footprint
Residential Lighting Study
Sustainable Case Study
Ecohouse Competition

> Chalfoun
> Demers + Potvin
> Elzeyadi
> Guzowski
> Haglund
> Kaiser
> La Roche
> Peña
> Rashed-Ali
> Shaviv + Yezioro
> Stannard
> Thomson

Projects (by teaching topic):
visit this link to see the projects sorted by the carbon related topic

> Frameworks and Goals
> Site
> Building Form / Integrated Design Overview
> Envelope
> Passive Strategies
> Efficient Mechanical Strategies
> Energy
> Materials
> Water
> Miscellaneous Related Topics
> Integrated Topics

arrow Resources

arrow Links

The Carbon Neutral Design Project:
Carbon Neutral Teaching: Curriculum Materials Development
Terri Meyer Boake
School of Architecture, University of Waterloo

Core Technical Courses in Environmental Design
Beginning Design Course Projects

Pedagogical Overview, Philosophy and Strategies


Course Objectives
Ecohouse Competition
Design of a residence to LEED® Platinum and Carbon Neutral energy requirements.
Students: Anne Cheung and Sheida Shahi


The climate of instruction is COLD. The principles of the projects could be applied to any climate zone, and many are specifically designed to address multiple climate types.

Core Support Courses in Pre Professional Degree

Professor Terri Meyer Boake, BES, BArch, MArch, LEED®AP
President Society of Building Science Educators
Associate Professor of Architecture

W2008 Arch 125 - Intro to Environmental Design

An introduction to the environmental aspects of architectural design and to an analysis of the form that landscapes take and the processes and ideals leading to those forms. The relationship of the landscape to microclimates and building environments. Topics of discussion include environmental concepts and influences on design, site planning, landscape, sustainability, solar geometry, embodied energy, climatic influences and microclimates, passive heating, passive cooling and carbon neutral design basics.

The format of the course consists of lectures, design/research projects and student seminars to present and discuss work. Design projects require that the students engage the specific technological notions presented within the course in the physical discourse of architecture.

“Being green should not be a bragging point, it should be the way we all act in our everyday lives and work and play places.  If the world was shrunk to the size of a basketball, the biosphere - the zone of air, water and land where all life exists - would be thinner than a layer of varnish.  That's it.  It's finite and fixed and cannot grow.  Humanity has exploded in number, technological musclepower, consumptive appetite and a global economy and we are now altering the chemical, physical and biological features of the planet on a geological scale.  The challenge is finding ways to live in a truly sustainable way in our home, the biosphere.” - David Suzuki 


F2008 Arch 226 - Environmental Building Design

As the Climate Change topic is heating up, this course is designed to evolve in order to bring you up to date with current initiatives in the field.

This course centers on issues surrounding the integration of Sustainable and Passive Design principles, into conceptual and practical architectural design. Topics will include: interstitial space and light access, daylighting, PV, wind, double skin technologies, Cradle 2 Cradle, Design for Disassembly, Zero Carbon/Carbon Neutral strategies and other sustainability initiatives. Case studies will be used extensively as a vehicle to discuss the success/failure of ideas and their physical applications.

The term will focus on the use of the LEED® Evaluation System as a means to both design and evaluate the relative "greenness" of buildings, as well as to understand the global implications of sustainable buildings.

Research and design projects require that the students engage the specific technological notions presented within the course in the physical discourse of architecture.

The course and projects will respond to a range of NAAB Student Performance Criteria, the most significant of which are:

#15. Sustainable Design
Understanding of the principles of sustainability in making architecture and urban design decisions that conserve natural and built resources, including culturally important buildings and sites, and in the creation of healthful buildings and communities

#17: Site Conditions
Ability to respond to natural and built site characteristics in the development of a program and the design of a project

#19: Environmental Systems
Understanding of the basic principles and appropriate application and performance of environmental systems, including acoustical, lighting, and climate modification systems, and energy use, integrated with the building envelope

#21: Building Envelope Systems
Understanding of the basic principles and appropriate application and performance of building envelope materials and assemblies

#28: Comprehensive Design
Ability to produce a comprehensive architectural project based on a building program and site that includes development of programmed spaces demonstrating an understanding of structural and environmental systems, building envelope systems, life-safety provisions, wall sections and building assemblies and the principles of sustainability (to a more limited degree given the beginning design nature of the course projects)

Information about the Course and Projects

The projects I have chosen to illustrate are part of the requirements for two core courses in Environmental Design. As their intentions are generally in support of the development and understanding of passive design principles, the feed into the general requirements that form the basis of carbon neutral design.

• pdf of full projects description and associated documents

course outline for Arch 125: Intro to Environmental Design

course outline for Arch 226: Environmental Building Design

All of the presentations and lecture powerpoints for both courses can be access from the above links

Philosophy of the Studio Instruction

The two courses are structured so that the first one, taken in the student's second term of their undergraduate degree, addresses holistic passive design principles: solar geometry, passive heating and cooling and microclimate. The students must first explore design projects using only these methods as reduction is the starting point for carbon neutral design. The second course asks that they begin to incorporate more advanced concepts.

The four key steps to achieve carbon neutrality are:
#1 -     Reduce loads/demand first (conservation, passive design, daylighting, shading, orientation, etc.)
#2 -     Meet loads efficiently and effectively (energy efficient lighting, high-efficiency MEP equipment, controls, etc.)
#3 -     Use on-site generation/renewables to meet energy needs (doing the above steps before will result in the need for much smaller renewable energy systems, making carbon neutrality achievable.)
#4 -  Use purchased Offsets as a last resort when all other means have been looked at on site, or where the scope of building exceeds the site available resources.

It is felt that if passive principles are taught first, that the students will better understand the impact on the form and massing of the building. Organizing the initial projects as very discrete pieces, helps the students to learn the principles one element at a time.

Boake Teaching Key
Teaching Key for Two Environmental Courses
(projects and class powerpoints can be found by clicking on the words above - note not all lectures have associated posted material)

Given the "hit and miss" tendency of sustainable design issues to be addressed in the parallel design studios, I have taken to the practice of "Teaching Technology as Design". The lectures and smaller projects and assignments that are given throughout the term, feed into a final design project that is intended to both act as a "final exam" for the course and thoroughly test on the knowledge that they have gained throughout the term, but also to marry their technical knowledge into a design project.

"Leveraging Technology: With or Without the Buy-in of Your School". Paper presented at the ACSA Annual Meeting in 2009.

List of 10 critical issues in my teaching of Carbon Neutral Design
1. Put the North Arrow on the page first! If you don’t know where North is, all else is lost.
2. Design first to maximize the passive benefit of the sun.
3. Design secondly to maximize natural ventilation.
4. Be conscious of the nature of the site and local climate for the building.
5. Microclimate can make or break a project as it can result in overheating or overshadowing.
6. Keep it simple.
7. Less building is less carbon. Less building is likely to require less energy to operate or light.
8. Our local climate is cold so, superinsulate the building. Go for double normal code requirements.
9. Use local materials and systems. Avoid gimmicks and mechanically dependent functionality.
10. Remember that passive buildings require active users. Make the building and its function intuitive.
10 student design mistakes that undermine the goal of Carbon Neutral Design
1. They forget to look at the effect of solar geometry on both the inside AND outside of the building.
2. They plunk their buildings down on perfectly flat sites, devoid of landscape, sustainable systems or softness.
3. They don’t understand the flow of spaces they have designed and the potential for relationships between indoors and outdoors.
4. They don’t know when to let an idea go when it’s clear that it’s just not working to benefit the project.
5. They cling to discoveries of obscure gadgetry to solve problems that would be better served by basic passive principles.
6. They rely too much on SketchUp to create their shadow studies - often too dark or lacking in contrast to show anything terribly useful (quick and dirty models are better!)
7. They get hung up on one strategy and ignore others that might be more appropriate.
8. They often look to precedents and periodicals for inspiration without appreciating that climate makes a difference and not all ideas are appropriate to their project.
9. They don’t understand that what they are learning should just be integral to their regular design process.
10. They forget that the goal is also to create beautiful architecture that is inspired in its daylighting and thermal comfort.
Range of Applicability in terms of CLIMATE
Most of these projects are introductory exercises and can be adapted for any climate.
Range of Applicability in terms of TYPE
Although many of the principles addressed are suited to a wide range of building sizes, scales and complexties, we use the residential type as it is easily accessed and understood by beginning design students.
Reference Material
Heating, Cooling, Lighting. Norbert Lechner.
Ecohouse. Sue Roaf
The ZEDBook. Bill Dunster
Duration of Exercise
Varies per project as noted.
Degree of Difficulty / Previous Knowledge Required
The earlier projects are designed specifically for Beginning Design Students and are intentionally straightforward. The Ecohouse Competition is the more complex and requires that they have completed the 2 Environmental courses, two Building Construction courses and three parallel Design Studios prior.





©2012 American Institute of Architects | Society of Building Science Educators | Legal Disclaimer