The Net-Zero First Design Studio & Competition

About the Course

This introductory level college course, Principles and Methods for Sustainable Design, is ideal for any student who is beginning the process of becoming a sustainable designer. Students start the course by learning how to think across time by examining the historical roots of today’s climate challenges: population growth, addiction to comfort and separation from nature. Students move on to predict the effects of climate change while developing a basic level of environmental literacy.

Students get to the root of today’s societal challenges by comparing and contrasting the competing motivations of self-interest and empathy in order to recognize the transformative potential of the United Nation’s definition of sustainable development. Students organize the empathic drivers of sustainability into the Quadruple Bottom Line of People, Planet and Profit, with the added fourth bottom line of “Place” to acknowledge the essential role of beauty as a key driver of sustainable design.

By applying the four quadrants of Integral Sustainable Design, the students will assume divergent points of view in the transdisciplinary design process. Role-playing and simulations help students to recognize the complexity and ambiguity of 21st century political and infrastructure challenges. Students will apply powerful design strategies of bio-inspired design, resilience, well-being and integrative design processes to these challenges.

Design principles and strategies are employed in the creation of the built environment and will attack the root cause and effects of climate change at the following scales: global, urban, district, site, building, interiors and product. This allows any student to value the interconnectedness of design decisions across scale.

The course ends with a call for action as students develop strategies for activism and advocacy to achieve a sustainable society. A simulated building design project tests the student’s ability to demonstrate their abilities to think across time, space and from multiple perspectives to co-create a sustainable future.

You will learn in much the same way as the actual graduate level sustainable course taught in our grad programs. Weekly readings, live and recorded lectures, and assignments will be provided. Students will also be engaged through the discussion board.