International Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD) (7th : 2015)

What do we say we teach about energy? : viewed through the lens of UK architecture undergraduate education Oliveira, Sonja; Marco, Elena; Gething, Bill


Changes in recent EU policy highlight the need for improving building professionals’ knowledge and skills regarding energy considerations in building design and construction. The architectural and engineering educational sector in particular is tasked with equipping graduates with the required competencies in order to be able to contribute to a fast-developing energy agenda. Although significant attention is placed on improving knowledge regarding energy in buildings in the industry sector there is less discussion across the UK professional bodies or research on the sort of literacy competencies students require to meet the growing industry and policy demands. Architectural education in the UK is monitored and validated by its professional bodies. Although curricula are required to embed sustainable development within their accreditation criteria for instance, it is less clear how energy considerations are met. The purpose of this paper is to examine how architectural educational institutions provide energy content in their undergraduate curricula. The study analyses 22 out of 45 accredited architecture undergraduate course programme specifications with a focus on exploring how energy content is described in both the learning outcomes and assessment. Preliminary findings demonstrate a varied and at times conflicting set of approaches with emphasis placed on cognitive literacy attributes of understanding and awareness with less consideration of behavioural or psychomotor attributes and little clarity in other cognitive dimensions such as knowledge and skills. The contribution of this paper is twofold. First, the findings provide an initial overview of how energy content is considered in curriculum design in architectural education in the UK. Second, the study considers the attributes that shape energy literacy in the context of architectural undergraduate education. There are also implications for policy development in other related educational curricula in the built environment including engineering, architectural technology, planning and surveying.

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