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Curriculum Projects Overview

Projects (by professor):

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dot Guzowski
Site and Bioclimatic Design: Between Earth and Sky
Lightscapes I: Between Earth and Sky
Optimizing Building Performance & Thermal Loads
Ecological Envelopes: Fivefold Functionality
Lightscapes II: Experiencing Sustainability
Whole Building Integration

> Haglund
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> Stannard
> Theis
> Thomson

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visit this link to see the projects sorted by the carbon related topic

> Frameworks and Goals
> Site
> Building Form / Integrated Design Overview
> Envelope
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The Carbon Neutral Design Project:
Carbon Neutral Teaching: Curriculum Materials Development
Mary Guzowski, Loren Abraham, and Ian McLellan
University of Minnesota

Spring 2008 6.5 week TECHNOLOGY MODULE- Luminous and Thermal Design: An Ecological Approach to Zero-Energy Carbon Neutral Design

Pedagogy Overview, Philosophy and Strategies

Envelope Analysis

Design Performance Objective
Envelope Analysis

Computer study of the envelope solar control
Students: Diedrich, Erickson, and Thompson


This particular studio project was located in the host institution's own climate zone, COLD. The principles of the studio could be applied to any climate zone.

Spring 2008 6.5 week TECHNOLOGY MODULE- Luminous and Thermal Design: An Ecological Approach to Zero-Energy Carbon Neutral Design

Mary Guzowski
Associate Professor of Architecture
University of Minnesota

A perennial challenge for ecological design education in schools of architecture has been the failure to integrate environmental technology courses and design studios. Despite the magnitude of ecological challenges and the complexity of integrated zero-energy carbon-neutral design education, many students are provided little or no formal education on the topic. To create a model of integrated ecological design education, the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota recently eliminated the required environmental technology courses in the professional graduate architecture program and replaced them with a new studio/technology hybrid course focusing on the integration of luminous and thermal design for zero-energy and carbon-neutral architecture in the first year (second semester) of the three-year graduate program. The intention is to introduce ecological design principles and methods as early as possible in order to inform and support the long-term sustainable design education of the students. An ecological approach to cold-climate passive heating, natural ventilation, and daylighting were at the core of the new design curriculum, into which innovative systems and renewable energy were integrated. Design excellence, comfort, and human experience were given equal importance as were energy and ecological performance.

Program Statement

The students were asked to consider how architectural design can respond to the growing challenges of global warming and climate change. While there are many issues related to zero-energy and carbon-neutral design, the new course focused on daylighting, thermal, and bioclimatic considerations for cold climate architectural design along with reductions in fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The course project was a new “Minnesota Zero-Emission/Zero-Energy Design Lab” in a proposed third floor addition to Rapson Hall for the College of Design at the University of Minnesota (a real project proposed by the Dean Thomas Fisher).


The objectives for the course were to: 1) remedy the separation between environmental technology course content and the design studio, 2) introduce ecological processes, methods, and tools for architectural design, and 3) prepare students to integrate zero-energy and carbon-neutral strategies and assessment methods into their future design education and practice. The vehicle for the course investigation was a local project, which was the design of a new “Zero-Emission/Zero-Energy Design Lab” as a proposed third floor addition to the College of Design at the University of Minnesota (a real project proposed by the Dean of the College). The course challenged the notion that zero-energy and carbon-neutral design was mainly a technological problem. Students were asked to investigate how the building – through its site design, massing, section, envelope, materials, systems integration, and details – could significantly harvest solar and renewable energy to reduce and meet the energy demands while also addressing design excellence and creating meaningful architectural experiences.

The design method was to consider a “hybrid-solar approach” to zero-energy carbon-neutral design which integrated both architectural and technological issues. Solar design and renewable energy were at the heart of the problem. Consideration of solar and renewable energy as both design and technological issues were addressed by concurrently integrating the issues at different scales and levels of design detail. The educational challenge was to design a curriculum that captured the complex design processes, methods, and integrated thinking necessary to promote the next generation of zero-energy and carbon-neutral sustainable design practice.

The project will respond to NAAB (CACB) Student Performance Criteria

#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)

Investigative Strategy

The series of projects and iterative invcestigagtions focused on the integration of architectural design and lighting, thermal, and renewable energy systems. Emphasis was on the creation of a meaningful whole that supported human experience, comfort, ecological performance, and design excellence. At the end of the 6.5 week period, teams presented a “final” iteration of the project to illustrate the evolution of their design thinking and how qualitative and quantitative evaluation informed their design thinking. They developed an integrated design solution for the proposed building addition and compared the performance to a “baseline case,” which was their initial concept presented in Project One and analyzed throughout the preceding projects. Teams were required to meet the daylighting, thermal, ventilation, energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and other relevant design and ecological goals set by the team. They analyzed the final design and compared the results to the original “baseline case” showing the estimated improvements in energy use, carbon dioxide emissions, thermal comfort, daylighting performance, life-cycle cost and other ecological metrics of the student’s choice.

Evaluation Process
The evaluative process for the course included extensive use of physical models (massing, section, envelope models, room studies); annotated wall sections; daylighting studies (qualitative time sequence photographs of physical models and Ecotect, DAYSIM, and/or Radiance quantitative analysis on diurnal and seasonal basis); Ecotect Studies for the thermal performance for passive solar and system integration; carbon calculations related to lighting and heating; integration drawings and diagrams; and written findings and conclusions on architectural design and systems integration.
Information about the Project and Studio

Guzowski et al., ARCH 5516 Syllabus 2008, PDF.

pdf of full project

course outline

project outline

Philosophy of the Studio Instruction

The team of instructors needed to carefully consider how the course structure and content could support the primary objectives of the course (please see previous page). While tangible design strategies, processes, methods, and tools were key to the successfully meeting the ecological objectives, a perhaps greater concern was to model an ecological process for design thinking that would inform the students’ future education and practice. Dr. David Orr, professor of environmental studies at Oberlin College, argues that humans – not design or technology – are the challenge to implementing a lasting and ecological transformation of design: “The greatest impediment to an ecological design revolution is not, however, technological or scientific, but rather human…A real design revolution will have to transform human intentions and the larger political, economic, and institutional structure that permitted ecological degradation in the first place…[1][1] David Orr, The Nature of Design (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 23-24.” The team of instructors was interested in fostering an ecological mode of design thinking and providing processes and methods which would enable the students to explore the complexity of the ecological design issues and intentions.

In contrast to the typical design studio, this new nine-credit hybrid design/technology studio was scheduled for only 6.5 weeks (in contrast to 15 weeks). The forty-five students worked in teams of three and took only one additional three-credit course during the 6.5 week period. Class met from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Morning sessions were organized with lectures, while afternoon sessions were typically used to meet with teams in the design studio, to study local buildings, and to teach the computer tutorials for Ecotect and other performance methods and tools. As we find in professional practice, each student team was responsible for integrating all of the course content and methods into the design project; however, individual student were not expected to be responsible for all of the content (e.g. one student might focus on the daylighting modelling while another integrated the daylighting into a thermal assessment). To ensure that all students learned the essential assessment and analytical methods, the completion of computer tutorials were required of each student. The course was taught by a team of design educators in collaboration with visiting practitioners (including three fulltime educators in environmental technology, sustainable design, and computer methods; three visiting design critics who provided additional design studio reviews; and three visiting practitioners who attended the reviews).

The content of the course was organized as a series of iterative projects around six topical modules related to zero-energy carbon-neutral design: 1) bioclimatic response, 2) daylighting inspiration, 3) thermal exploration, 4) ecological envelope, 5) experiencing sustainability, and 6) an integrated whole. While the projects were designed to encourage students to consider multiple issues concurrently, the emphasis of the projects shifted between focused investigation of an individual topic to integration across topics. Students addressed the design of the “whole” and the design of the “parts” by alternately focusing on different issues and scales. The following discussion considers the educational intentions, processes, and outcomes of the modules and how they were integrated throughout the 6.5 week period.

1. Site & Bioclimatic Design: Between Earth & Sky
Produce a written program document with a problem statement and statement of intent, a written and graphic site analysis/interpretation, and an analysis of appropriate precedents... Develop an understanding of the relationship between the building program and the site that would serve to facilitate the realization of the designer’s intentions as the design process unfolded.

2. Lightscapes 1: Light in Place & Time
Develop an understanding of the relationship between the building program and the site that would serve to facilitate the realization of the designer’s intentions as the design process unfolded.

3. Optimizing Building Performance & Thermal Loads
The investigation of relationship between possible design strategies and the climate and microclimate, and the quantitative physical properties of the site.

4. Ecological Envelopes: Fivefold Functionality
The investigation of relationship between possible design strategies and the climate and microclimate, and the quantitative physical properties of the site.

5. Lightscapes II: Experiencing Sustainability
LEED checklist and descriptions of individual credits, “GreenBuilding Suite”, etc.

6. Whole Building Integration
Use the LEED checklist and the eQuest computer program to monitor building performance throughout the schematic design phase.


Guzowski Key

The instructors gratefully acknowledge the contributions to this design studio by the first year graduates students from Spring 2008; the teaching assistants; the visiting design critics; the visiting professional critics; and the Center for Teaching and Learning Services at the University of Minnesota.

Visiting Design Critics:
Renee Cheng, Professor and Head; Benjamin Ibarra, Assistant Professor; Sharon Roe, Adjunct Associate Professor
Visiting Professional Critics:
Nina Ebbighausen, HGA; Doug Pierce, Perkins+Will; Jennifer Yoos, VJAA
Center for Teaching and Learning Services:
Dr. Ilene Alexander

List of 7 critical issues in our teaching of Carbon Neutral Design

This model of integrated ecological design education succeeded in helping students to meaningfully integrate zero-energy and carbon-neutral design thinking into their personal design and decision-making processes. The instructors witnessed a profound change over the course of the 6.5 weeks in the students’ abilities, confidence, and skill in framing design questions and then investigating and weighing both poetic and pragmatic ecological design considerations. The instructors hope that this studio has laid a solid foundation that will positively support the students’ ability to address ecological design in their future education and practice. The experimental course will continue to evolve and change as we test and develop the new curriculum over the coming years. Lessons for design educators include:

1. Dissolve the Boundaries between Technology and Design: This hybrid design/technology studio is but one way to bridge the gap between the technical courses and the design studio. Other innovative models are being explored in design programs throughout the world. Even if it is not possible to make significant curricular changes, find creative ways to integrate the design and technology courses.

2. Promote Integrated and Iterative Design Thinking: The greatest benefit from the design/technology hybrid course was the growth and change that was evident in the students’ ability to frame critical design questions and to address these questions with a high degree of skill and confidence. The studio also provided the depth to meaningfully apply qualitative and quantitative assessment methods. Iterative and integrative processes were essential in moving design thinking to a deeper level.

3. Prioritize Passive Design: Cold climate passive strategies for daylighting, passive heating, and natural ventilation were the foundation of the course. Passive design was considered a primary means to meet energy demand for lighting, heating, and cooling. Innovative approaches to building materials, envelope, and renewable energy systems must be integrated with passive design strategies.

4. Explore Qualitative and Quantitative Assessment Methods:
The course emphasized the importance of both qualitative and quantitative design tools as means to develop and assess the architectural quality and performance. This included varied scales of physical models (e.g. massing models, ½” envelope details, and ½” daylighting and section models). Other methods of assessment included sketching, diagramming, Ecotect studies for daylighting and thermal performance, and carbon calculations. Ecotect was a valuable tool for early design studies (even in the first week of class), as it is fairly easy to learn and quickly enables students to compare and contrast the luminous and thermal implications of decisions related to massing, section, form, and window design. Qualitative daylighting models and sketching were used both early in the design process and toward the end of the investigation as a complement to the Ecotect studies.

5. Promote Meaningful Collaboration: Collaborative teaching and learning was essential, for no faculty or student can be an expert in all aspects of ecological design. A team of instructors, visiting critics, and professionals was essential in providing the necessary expertise. Students gained valuable experience collaborating and sharing responsibilities.

6. Acknowledge the Heightened Intensity: Although successfully condensing the content into half of a typical semester (6.5 weeks) seemed highly challenging, it successfully focused the students’ attention. With only one additional class, students were less distracted by competing interests and seemed to work more effectively and purposefully toward a successful end result. The disadvantage of the condensed schedule was the limited time to process and synthesize the design methods and evaluative tools. Despite this limitation, the intensity of the course fostered a spirit of collaboration and exploration that will serve the students well as they move forward with their future ecological design education and practice.

7. Start Early: Introduce issues of zero-energy and carbon-neutral design in the first year of the graduate program. This provides an ecological foundation and qualitative and quantitative approaches to sustainable design which can inform the following years of design education and practice.

5 student design mistakes that undermine the goal of Carbon Neutral Design
1. Non-Iterative Design Process: Students are unlikely to reach zero- and carbon-neutral goals if they do not use an iterative and integrative design process. Carbon-neutral and zero-energy design requires iterative investigations which systematically considers diverse layers of design issues across different topical concerns and scales. Students need to be provided clear processes and methods to integrate the complexity of issues and design integration.

2. Unwillingness to Integrate Passive Solar Design: Unless passive strategies are included, it will be impossible to meet zero- and carbon-neutral goals. It is the responsibility of the instructor to provide real design principles, methods, and tools to assess and refine passive solar strategies (including daylighting, natural ventilation, and passive heating).

3. Considering Form as Independent of Ecological Goals and Intentions: Students are unlikely to meet zero- and carbon-neutral goals if they approach the building form (massing, plan, and section) as independent of ecological concerns for natural lighting, ventilation, and heating.

4. Unwillingness to Use Qualitative and Quantitative Design Tools: Students will be unlikely to integrate both ecological performance and design excellence unless they are willing to combine both quantitative assessments for comfort and performance with qualitative and experientially-based design tools.

5. Disbelief that Design Matters in Terms of Ecological Impact: Students will be unlikely to meet zero- and carbon-neutral goals if they are uninterested and do not believe that design choices at every scale can have a profound ecological impact.
Range of Applicability in terms of CLIMATE
This approach could be used for buildings in any climate zone.
Range of Applicability in terms of TYPE
Ths approach is suitable for any building type.
Reference Material (texts put on reserve in the library)

• Baker, N.V, Fanchiotti, A., and K. Steemers, editors. Daylighting in Architecture: A European Reference Book. London: James & James, 2001.
• Deutsches Architektur Museum, editor. The Secret of the Shadow: Light and Shadow in Architecture. Germany: DAM, 2002.
• Gannon, Todd, editor. The Light Construction Reader. New York: The Monacelli Press, 2002.
• Guzowski, Mary. Daylighting for Sustainable Design. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000.
• Herzog, Krippner, and Lang. Façade Construction Manual, Basel: Birkhäuser Publishers, 2004 (please browse – excellent reference).
• Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA). The IESNA Lighting Handbook, New York: IESNA, 2000.
• Meyers, Victoria. Designing with Light. New York: Abbeville Press Publishers, 2006.
• Millet, Marietta. Light Revealing Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1996.
• Richards, Brent. New Glass Architecture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.
• Schittich, Christian, editor. inDETAIL: Solar Architecture. Basel: Birkhäuser Publishers, 2003.
• Klaus Daniels, Low-tech Light-tech High-tech, Basel: Birkhauser, 2000.

• Byars, Mel. 50 Lights: Innovations in Design and Materials. Switzerland: RotoVision, 1997.
• Egan, David M. and Victor Olgyay. Architectural Lighting, second edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002.
• Gardner, Carl and Barry Hannaford. Lighting Design: An Introductory Guide for Professionals, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1993.
• Steffy, Gary. Architectural Lighting Design, second edition. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2002.
• Thaureau, Vanessa. Ultimate Lighting Design, New York: teNeues, 2005.

ENVELOPE DESIGN (Daylight and Thermal Issues)
• Balkow et al. Glass Construction Manual, Boston: Birkhäuser, 1999.
• Compagno, Andrea. Intelligente Glasfassaden : Material, Anwendung, Gestaltung : Intelligent Glass Facades: Material, Practice, Design. Boston : Birkhauser-Verlag, 2002.
• Schittich, Christian, editor. Building Skins. Basel: Birkhäuser Publishers, 2001.
• Schittich, Staib, Balkow, Schuler, and Sobek. Glass Construction Manual. Basel: Birkhäuser Publishers, 1999.
• Wigginton, Michael and Jude Harris. Intelligent Skins, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2002.

• Abraham, Loren E. (adaptation) and Thomas Schmitz-Gunther, editor. Living Spaces: Ecological Building and Design Cologne, Germany : Konemann Verlag., 1999.
• Allen, Edward. Fundamentals of Building Construction; 3rd ed.; New York : Wiley, 1999.
• Brand, Stewart; How Buildings Learn: what happens after they’re built, New York, NY : Viking, 1994.
• Brown, G.Z., Mark DeKay. Sun, Wind & Light; 2nd ed., New York : J. Wiley, 2001.
• Mazria, E. The Passive Solar Energy Book. expanded professional edition. Emmaus, PA, Rodale Press, 1979.
• Stein, B., J. Reynolds, W. Grondzik, and A. Kwok. Mechanical and Electrical Equipment for Buildings, 10th Ed., Wiley, 2006.

Guzowski, M. with L. Abraham, Integrated Luminous and Thermal Design: A Cold Climate Approach to Zero-Energy Carbon-Neutral Design Education, 26th Conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture, Quebec, Canada, 2009; PDF.

Duration of Exercise
6.5 weeks
Degree of Difficulty / Previous Knowledge Required
This studio is given at the graduate level and prior introduction of the environmental material is assumed.

Kwok, Alison and Walter Grondzik. The Green Studio Handbook. London: Architectural Press, 2007.
Lechner, Norbert. Heating, Cooling, Lighting: Design Methods for Architects, New York, Wiley, 2001.

ECOTECT version 5.50; DAYSIM, and Radiance
Electronic reserve of all articles (assigned with each project statement - see Project PDFs).



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