Institute for Academic Development
Institute for Academic Development

Innovative environmental analysis teaching

Investigating innovative environmental analysis teaching methods for undergraduates

Team members: Ola Uduku, Gillian Treacy, Lisa Moffitt, John Brennan


This project seeks to investigate whether undergraduate learning can be enriched through the introduction of new learning methods, involving the use of basic environmental analysis software for teaching in Architecture and related fields. This environmental software will be introduced via tutorials with interactive student involvement. Its viability as a teaching tool will be assessed, using various qualitative methods, at the completion of the project.

The Architectural education syllabus requires teaching aspects of building physics including thermal heat gain, lighting, airflow across buildings, and ventilation. This is taught, involving students working on simple hand calculations, using basic scaled physical models to crudely test lighting, shade and other physical effects. Nowadays, environmental analysis software can be used with computer generated building models to undertake environmental design analysis of buildings, at professional levels for building performance analyses.

Currently there are no equivalent environmental analysis software programmes that address basic undergraduate teaching needs. With a past 2011 KTP grant, the team worked on the development of a new student-focused environmental analysis modelling programme. This utilised a proprietary programme, (IES-VE), that was ‘stripped down’ and developed for use as an interactive worksheet for environmental design teaching. We are yet to test this teaching ‘tool’, and are seeking PTAS funding to enable us introduce the worksheet within the existing environmental design syllabus, to test how students respond to, and engage with this innovation in their understanding and learning, at class, tutorial and project level.

This is a staged proposal. We are hoping to build on the student evaluation received, and our reflections on the effectiveness, or otherwise, of this proposed teaching intervention, to apply for further grant funding. This would link with Gillian Treacy’s research in environmental design teaching. Her PhD will investigate the subject of architectural lighting design (natural and artificial light) as contained within architecture and design courses. It will question the content of undergraduate lighting courses and current teaching methods. This aligns with this project proposal and its aim to examine whether environmental design teaching at undergraduate level can be transformed through the introduction of interactive environmental analysis teaching, using proprietary software.

Final Report

Final report may be downloaded through the link below.