KA5024 - Sustainable Building Technologies

What will I learn on this module?

You will learn about the ways in which buildings impact on the local and global environment through the choice of construction materials, energy and carbon emissions. This module builds on and develops what you will have learned about construction technology from the previous level. You will discover the importance of energy efficiency and how the performance of buildings can be improved through sustainable design of both new build and refurbishment works. Topics include:

• Global environmental problems and climate change.
• How heat transfers through materials, how to assess heat loss and energy efficiency in buildings.
• Legislation and regulations relating to the environmental performance of buildings.
• The construction technology of older buildings and how this affects sustainability.
• Principles of sustainable building design.
• Sustainable refurbishment and adaptation of buildings.
• The environmental impact of building services including renewable energy options.
• Carbon footprinting and the environmental impact of building materials.

How will I learn on this module?

This module will major on experiential learning, in addition to lectures and seminars there will be workshops to introduce survey techniques and equipment and site activities to put these skills into practice. You will be supported in your learning by formative assessment and feedback to help you assimilate the taught materials. The built environment is characterised by a range on online resources such as specifications, guidance notes and videos from government, professional bodies and manufacturers. These technological resources will be exploited to provide a rich learning experience.

Low carbon design and construction is rapidly evolving to meet the challenge of climate change, the teaching will be informed by research from a range of authoritative sources, include staff research, to help you evaluate the range of alternatives available. It is anticipated that you will be able to visit and evaluate for yourself a variety of properties that have used innovative solutions to low carbon design.

The University campus and its immediate surroundings provide an excellent variety of case study buildings that you will be able to visit and compare and contrast as part of your learning.

If you are in employment your workplace will be the main learning environment, in effect acting as a framework for sustainable building technologies. However, tutor support will be available via drop-in sessions throughout the module study period. If you are in employment it is recognised that there is the need for modes of blended learning delivery, experiential assessment, and opportunities to combine work and study through independent study, embedded learning opportunities, and relevant communications technologies. Lecture capture will be used to elaborate on the content contained in any teaching material along with audio recording and notes to support presentations on key topics.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will get support and guidance on how best to approach the coursework assessments during seminars. In addition you will be encouraged to ask questions through the online discussion board where you can interact with your tutor and peers outside teaching sessions. The tutors operate an “open door” policy, so you will have the opportunity to ask questions directly if you prefer.

If you are in employment your workplace will be the main learning environment, however, tutor support will be available via drop-in sessions throughout the module study period. The eLP, telephone and email will be used as a means of communication once the initial briefings have taken place and work-based visits will be made by tutors if appropriate.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• MLO1: You will be able to recognise the materials and construction technologies used in buildings of a variety of ages and types.
• MLO2: You will be able to discuss the legislation, regulations, policies and environmental political agendas that are relevant to the built environment.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO3: You will be able to appraise the energy performance of existing buildings and recommend appropriate improvements in professional reports.
• MLO4: You will be able to apply the principles of sustainable low energy design to new and existing buildings.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MLO5: You will be able to discuss the issues relating to the environmental impact of buildings, materials and building services.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by two individual pieces of coursework, each worth 50% of the module mark.

The first piece of coursework will require you to carry out research into the production and use of two construction materials currently used: one considered as a sustainable alternative to to other one. You will be asked to compare these and assess the actual sustainability and usability of the materials.Your work will be presented as an academic report of maximum 1500 words. This will test MLO1, MLO2, MLO4 and MLO5

The second piece of work is the survey and inspection of a residential property. You will be asked to make an appraisal of the energy performance of the building fabric and services (or part of it). You will critically compare your findings with the requirements of current legislation and write a professional report (maximum 2000 words) with some recommendations for upgrading works. This will test all the MLO’s for this module in relation to domestic properties.

Generic feedback will be given on the e-learning portal so that you will have an idea of general performance and your own comparative performance. Individual feedback will be provided on your work that will inform you on how you can improve your performance in future submissions.





Module abstract

Sustainable Building Technologies will enable you to gain an understanding of the impact of buildings on the local and global environment. As you develop your knowledge of construction technology and renewable energy technologies, you will appreciate the role of the Building Surveyor in reducing carbon emissions and running costs for buildings. You will learn about government policy, legislation and the political controversy relating to sustainability and climate change. You will apply the knowledge gained from this and other modules to carry out a survey, prepare an energy appraisal, conduct research and produce professional reports. This is one of several modules at this level that are designed to provide you with knowledge and skills that will be useful for placement and graduate employment.

If you are in employment your workplace will act as a framework for sustainable building technologies to develop your skills and knowledge.

Course info

UCAS Code K230

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Architecture and Built Environment

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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