Green Building Materials 101: A Syllabus Supplement

Last updated: 
February 15, 2018

College professors: here’s a curriculum module for introducing students to healthier and lower-impact products and materials using BuildingGreen articles.

Intended for design professionals, BuildingGreen provides an independent “living textbook” that integrates perfectly with green building courses while exposing students to the most cutting-edge sustainability strategies and real-world green building case studies.

The first half of the course goes topic by topic, while the second half goes product category by product category, using MasterFormat indexing. These can be broken into two eight-week mini-courses as needed.

Here we offer an Intro to Green Materials curriculum especially formulated for institutions that have access to the following articles through a campus-wide BuildingGreen subscription.

Don’t have a subscription yet? Contact our outreach director, Jerelyn Wilson, to get a no-strings-attached free trial for your campus.

Week 1—Welcome and Introductions

Lecture: Green building is about a lot more than products and materials

Readings:

Week 2—Life-Cycle Assessment and Green Products

Lecture: BuildingGreen webcast, Whole-Building Life-Cycle Assessment: Promises and Pitfalls

Readings:

Week 3—Greenwash and the Need for Third-Party Certification

Lecture: BuildingGreen webcast, LEED vs. Green Globes: What’s the Difference?

Readings:

Week 4—Transparency

Lecture: Why transparency is paramount to improving the environmental and health characteristics of building materials; BuildingGreen webcast, Materials Transparency & LEED 

Readings:

Week 5—Greener Products and Materials: Product Emissions and Chemical Hazards

Lecture: BuildingGreen webcast, Toxic Chemicals in Buildings: How to Find and Avoid the Worst Offenders

Readings:

Week 6—Greener Products and Materials: Other Impacts

Lecture: Rules of thumb for greener materials and why we need to look deeper

Readings:

Week 7—Issues on the Horizon

Lecture: Open discussion, Q&A, and feedback

Readings:

Week 8—Occupancy and Operations

Lecture: Greening standard practice, and considerations after the architect is gone

Readings:

Week 9—CSI MF2004 03 Concrete, 04 Masonry, 05 Metals, 06 Wood, Plastic, Composites

Lecture: Responsible sourcing and life-cycle concerns

Introductory Readings:

Deeper Readings:

Part 1: Are FSC and LEED Killing American Jobs? A Look at the Evidence

Part 2: FSC and Beyond: LEED 2012 Buries the "Wood Wars" Hatchet

Part 3: Three Things You Need to Know About Forests and Climate Change

Week 10—CSI MF2004 07, Thermal and Moisture Protection

Lecture: Durability and performance as key environmental concerns

Introductory Readings:

Deeper Readings:

Week 11—CSI MF2004 08, Windows, Doors, Curtainwalls

Lecture: Energy, materials, and weather protection

Introductory Readings:

Deeper Readings:

Week 12 —CSI MF2004 09 Finishes #1, Interior Wet-Applied Products and Flooring

Lecture: Balancing indoor air quality, material hazards, and performance

Introductory Readings:

Deeper Readings:

Week 13—CSI MF2004 09 Finishes #2, Carpet, Wallcoverings, Furnishings, and Exterior Coatings

Lecture: Focus on what matters: design & material vs. product level selection

Introductory Readings:

Deeper Readings:

Week 14—CSI MF2004 11, 22, 23, 26, Energy-consuming products & systems

Lecture: Use-phase dominated products—efficiency, then other concerns

Introductory Readings:

Deeper Readings:

Week 15—CSI MF2004 22 Plumbing

Lecture: Water: collection, use and conservation, embodied water, and other issues with water systems

Introductory Readings:

Deeper Readings:

Week 16—Alternatives Assessment and Wrap-Up

Lecture: Identifying, evaluating and specifying alternative products and materials; BuildingGreen webcast, Deep Material Vetting (That Won’t Chew Through Your Design Budget)

Deeper Readings:

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