4607764: Climate Change and the Built Environment

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Semester:WS 18/19
Scheduled in semester:1-2
Semester Hours per Week / Contact Hours:24.0 L / 18.0 h
Self-directed study time:72.0 h

Module coordination/Lecturers


Master's degree programme in Architecture (01.09.2014)


The course will illustrate to what extend climate change is man-made and how far we are able to measure/define it. We will discuss its causes, progressions and outlook, its systemic relationships and mutual effects with other natural processes and cycles, as well as its consequences for the planet’s and human health.

The course will then investigate the main sources of GHG and other culprits from the built environment, locating the building functions, materials, items, technologies & processes that are mostly related to climate change. Current stage of research (quantitative & qualitative) will be explored as well as current BMPs (Best Management Practices) and solutions. Case studies and lectures will introduce state-of-the-art and emerging approaches in academia and practice. Global agreements, government policies and design & construction sustainability standards will be assessed in regard to their suitability, adaptability and effectiveness.

One key aspect will be the exploration of lessons from nature (biomimicry). We will investigate the application of natural life-strategies (evolved over millennia and proven sustainable) to the conception of artefacts, processes and systems in the built environment.

The later focus of the course will shift to rendering the students’ current studio project climate neutral. Appropriate traditional and new approaches, methodologies and technologies will be studied, developed and integrated into design, in order to reduce negative project impacts (mitigate) and boost positive impacts (regenerate) on the environment. Effort shall be made to create a place-specific, locally sustainable project. At the same time, students shall devise practices through which their project will be able to tolerate changes of climate, resist disasters and adapt to future changes.

Learning Outcomes

Professional competence

  • Being aware of and understand anthropogenic impact on the planet’s biosphere and its extend & progression, in order to correct it
  • Recognize and examine the factor that built environment plays on the longevity of our planet
  • Identify and characterize functions, materials, items, technologies & processes of the built environment that relate to climate change
  • Be competent to assess a building’s opportunities and constraints, weaknesses and strengths toward climate neutrality in order to conceive innovative and future-oriented architecture
  • Conceive and design advanced human environment in order to mitigate or invert anthropogenic impact on climate

Methodological competence
  • Select appropriate methods in the conception of built environments for the resolution of anthropogenic atmospheric problems
  • Assess emerging practices/ approaches toward their effectiveness for climate neutrality
  • Recognize place-specific circumstances and adapt building features and technologies to environmental and social context
  • Analyze new and/or scientific climate data and characteristics without guidance, using a range of tools, techniques and methods appropriate to the subject
  • Critically evaluate evidence to support a hypotheses, reviewing its reliability, validity and significance

Social competence
  • Discuss and articulate issues and approaches of climate change fluently with clients, consultants and collaborators
  • Being able to explain and illustrate the implications of climate change convincingly and comprehensively.
  • Being competent to constructively collaborate on climate change issues related to build environment across disciplines

Personal competence
  • Assess own work and put it into a historical, local and global context of climate impact
  • Being aware of and able to gauge one’s impact on society; rate one’s own professional value
  • Being able to determine whether one is “part of the problem or part of the solution”


Lectures Method

Lecture and seminar: case studies, discourse, writing


1. Field Notes from a Catastrophe, Kolbert, E., 2006,Bloomsbury, London
2. A Blueprint for a Safer Planet, Stern, N., 2009, Bodley Head, London
3. Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, Janine M. Benyus, HarperCollins, New York, 2002
4. The Hot Topic: How to Tackle Global Warming and Still Keep the Lights on, by David King, Gabrielle Walker, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (21 Jan 2008)
5. Ecological Design, Sim van der Ryn, Stuart Cowan, Island Press, 1996
6. Plan B2.0, by Lester R. Brown, W. W. Norton & Company; Substantially Revised edition (January 17, 2008)
7. Two Degrees: The Built Environment and Our Changing Climate, by Alisdair McGregor (Author), Cole Roberts (Author), Fiona Cousins (Author) (ARUP), Routledge (December 6, 2012)
8. Solutions for Climate Change Challenges in the Built Environment, Colin A. Booth, Felix N. Hammond, Jessica Lamond, David G. Proverbs, ISBN: 978-1-4051-9507-2, February 2012, Wiley-Blackwell
9. Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change, by Peter Calthorpe, Washington, DC: Island Press, 2011

Exam Modalities

Portfolio, exercises, minimum 75% mandatory presence


  • PAR MA 14_Climate Change and the Built Environment (WS 18/19, in Planung)