Footprint Futures

Footprint Futures
The key stage 2 and 3 eco-footprint teaching resource from the Centre for Alternative Technology
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Module 4: Buildings

Pupils will have the opportunity to develop a basic knowledge of sustainable building design. They will assess the embodied energy of building materials and apply what they have learned to design their own sustainable buildings. They will also discover that we have a legacy of old inefficient buildings that need to be refurbished.

  • Buildings have a significant eco footprint
  • A lot of this is due to embodied energy – the energy used to make the building materials.
  • Some of it is due to the energy the building uses when occupied
  • Some high embodied energy materials include concrete, steel, and bricks
  • Some low embodied energy materials include wood, straw, rammed earth
  • Buildings can be designed to collect free heat energy from the sun without requiring any kind of solar panels. This is called passive solar.
  • South facing buildings optimise the benefits of solar energy
  • Some old inefficient buildings can be renovated. Some are very difficult to renovate.
  • Observation, drawing, recording on field trip
  • Speaking and listening
  • Designing and making models
  • Group work
You will need
You are encouraged to acquire additional resources and materials to make the project relevant to your school. These are described in each activity and also listed here:

1. Building Consequences

  • Paper and Pencils

3. Site Visit

  • A site to visit. The Centre for Alternative Technology has several sustainable buildings made from different materials but you may want to visit somewhere closer to your school.
  • If you cannot find any examples of sustainable buildings to visit, try and find out about buildings that have had energy saving features added to them, such as insulation.
  • Even if you cannot find any positive sustainable examples, it will still be valuable to leave the classroom. Investigate a traditional building using natural materials – the materials may have low embodied energy, but how energy efficient is the building when in use? Or even investigate bad examples – pupils will gain a lot from being able to apply their knowledge.

5. Build it Yourself!

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Craft materials, paper, scissors, glue etc
  • Clear plastic (eg windows from processed food packaging, or old A4 clear plastic wallets)
  • A icon printed set of designs (687.54 kB) for photovoltaic panels, solar water heating panels, tiles etc

6. Sustainable Planning - Buildings

  • You could invite the person they interviewed on the site visit to help with this activity
  • Maps and aerial floor photo mats if you have them
  • Variety of media for recording

Building Consequences Building Consequences
This quick warm up game will allow pupils to design their own sustainable buildings in a fun way. View >>
Building Footprints Building Footprints
This slide show demonstrates the sustainability issues behind a lot of the buildings we have in the UK. View >>
Site Visit Site Visit
A whole class field trip which will allow pupils to investigate what they have learned first hand. View >>
Eco Buildings Eco Buildings
This slide show illustrates several types of eco buildings and eco refurbishments. View >>
Build it Yourself! Build it Yourself!
This is a practical group activity for pupils to design and make their own model eco buildings out of boxes. View >>
Sustainable Planning - Buildings Sustainable Planning - Buildings
The pupils use what they have learned to design a regional sustainable plan for buildings. View >>
Report Report
An opportunity for pupils to work in groups or as individuals to report on the days activities. View >>


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