Project Course in Sustainable Building Science

[APSC 598G]
Course Coordinator: Nemy Banthia, Civil Engineering Sustainable Building Science Program 

For inquiries, please contact SBSP Program Assistant Margaret Gardiner,


This 3-credit course is the required project-based course for students in the Sustainable Building Science Program, and forms a logical follow-up to the Topics in Sustainable Building Science course offered in the preceding term. Through the undertaking of a term-long project related to one or more of the areas of sustainable building science, the students will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge to real- world issues and gain a deeper understanding of the interrelationships among the various design disciplines.

This course is open to students from diverse backgrounds – natural sciences and engineering, health and social sciences, architecture, etc. – who have taken the Topics course. That course will have exposed the students to a high-level conceptual/qualitative understanding of sustainability and the building design and construction processes and players, the integration and inter-dependency of the various building systems and their designs, the potential conflicts between them, and how this understanding can inform design decisions to create buildings exhibiting a higher level of performance, including a high level of sustainability.

Course Overview

This course will be offered at the graduate level, open to students in the natural sciences and engineering, health and social sciences, architecture, etc. interested in learning how to create better, more sustainable buildings. It will normally be a required course for graduate student trainees in the Sustainable Building Science Program, and an elective for other students. Motivated students in their final year of an undergraduate program may be permitted to take the course as an elective.

Course Learning Objectives

1. To gain a basic understanding of the natural, health and social science and engineering issues associated with the design, construction and operation of (sustainable) buildings – that is, of sustainable-building science.

2. To understand the relationship between building inhabitants and building systems.

3. To understand the sustainable-building design and construction processes and stakeholders.

4. To understand issues of sustainability and the contribution of buildings, and be able to analyze a building’s performance according to a number of sustainability indicators, recognizing their dependence on one another.

5. To understand the various systems that all building must contain in order to function successfully, to identify the respective professionals responsible for the design of each, and to be able to identify the inter-relationships and dependencies among these various systems.

6. To understand the importance of establishing building performance criteria for each of the building systems at the design stage, and how to evaluate performance through the analysis of postoccupancy performance data.

7. To understand the importance of approaching building design using an integrated design process (IDP) involving all design consultants, in order to attain high levels of performance through the appropriate integration of all building systems.

8. To apply the knowledge learned to real-world buildings.

9. To provide service to the sustainable building design community.

Course Format

Appropriate projects will be selected from those submitted by the SBSP Researchers and Collaborators, both within the academic community and in industry. Students, working in groups of 3 to 5, will be matched to projects possibly related to their personal academic interests. Throughout the term, students will maintain ongoing dialogue with their Faculty Advisor who proposed the project, but also within the wider community of building scientists.

In consultation with the assigned Faculty Advisor, the students will take leadership in framing the projects, establishing the methodology, determining the time-frame and identifying the deliverables at the end of the project. It is anticipated that each student will spend approximately 8 hours per week on the project.

The students will have regular contact with their Faculty Advisor, who will provide advice and guidance as required. In addition, once every 3-4 weeks, all the students in the course will meet in informal review sessions to update the others on the progress of their projects, and discuss any relevant issues.

At the end of the course, there will be a more formal Poster Presentation (approximately 3 hours long) with attendance by SBSP faculty, collaborators and guests from industry. In addition there will be requirements for a written report, the exact format and content of the report dependent on the particular project and as stipulated by the Faculty Advisor.

Course Prerequisites

Topics in Sustainable Building Science or with permission from the Course Coordinator

Course Evaluation

Students will be evaluated on the following basis:

Teamwork, Attendance and Participation …………………. 20%

Final Poster Presentation …………………………………………… 30%

Final written report …………………………………………………… 50%

Preliminary Course Schedule

Week 1 Presentation of potential projects by SBSP Researchers & Collaborators (Faculty Advisors)

Week 2 Assignment of groups to projects and submission of project summary and workplan to Faculty Advisors

Week 3 – 4 Commencement of project

Week 5 Presentation of project status to entire class for discussion

Week 6 Project continuation

Week 7 UBC Reading Week, no classes

Week 8 Project continuation

Week 9 Project continuation

Week 10 Presentation of project status to entire class for discussion

Week 11 Project continuation

Week 12 Draft of final report submitted to Faculty Advisor for review

Week 13 Poster Presentation + Final report Submission