Topics in Sustainable Building Science



Location: SPPH 143 (and CIRS Policy Labs- see bottom of page for details)

Time: Tues/Thur 12- 2 PM  (Term 1: Sep 08, 2015 to Nov 26, 2015).

Course Coordinator: Frank Lam, FSC – Room 4026; 604.822.6526;

TAs: Ghazal Ebrahimi:, Negar Roghanian:



This course is the introductory course for students in the Sustainable-Building Science Program, and other interested graduate and undergraduate students. In view of the diverse backgrounds – natural sciences and engineering, health and social sciences, architecture, etc. – of the students who may register in this course, it is not reasonable to assume that a very deep understanding or quantitative analysis of all building science and sustainability areas can be covered.  Rather, emphasis will be on providing 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 informs design decisions to create buildings with a higher level of performance, including a high level of sustainability.



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 graduate students. Motivated students in their final year of an undergraduate program with strong academic records may be permitted to take the course as an elective.

The knowledge required to understand the objectives and processes of sustainable building, how inhabitants interact with buildings, how quality is defined and evaluated, and of building systems, will be delivered through a variety of means:  lectures from specialists, assigned readings, comparative case studies, and site visits. The students will develop a qualitative understanding of the topics below at the depth necessary to understand key issues and identify relationships, with a focus on sustainable building.

Some of the lecture topics which were covered in the last years are as follows:

-Green, Sustainable & Regenerative Buildings

-Human & Automated Intelligence

-Buildings and inhabitants behavioral

-Buildings and inhabitants: thermal comfort

-Buildings and inhabitants: health, aerosols

-Building systems

-Building design process

-Documentation, case study: CIRS

-Documentation, case study: AERL

-Predicting and evaluating building performance: rating schemes

-Materials: Low Carbon Footprint Concrete for Sustainable Buildings; Wood to buildings

-LCA; Predicting and evaluating building performance: materials

-Construction processes and the impact of sustainability

-Building Envelope Hygrothermal Performance

-Vegetated roofs, living walls Buildings and water

-Building Energy and Building Performance Simulation



  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 become familiar with building drawings, and apply this knowledge to the analysis, critique and comparison of two contrasting UBC buildings through their drawings.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 post-occupancy performance data.
  8. 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.
  9. To apply the knowledge learned to real-world buildings.



The students will meet twice weekly for 1½-2 hour lectures.  These will be supplemented by a number of 1½-2 hour discussion sessions and student presentations.



September 8, 10, 15: SPPH 143

September 17, 22, 24: CIRS Policy Labs

September 29- October 29: SPPH 143

November 3: CIRS Policy Labs

November 5- 26: SPPH 143