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In this time of transition for the home building industry, designing and teaching a construction science program can be a challenge. With planning, teachers can integrate basic home construction competencies with new and proven techniques and technologies that drive the high performance home building trend.

Adapt High Performance Building Curriculum to Local Trends

To adapt a high performance building curriculum in ways that best serve the student, it is recommended that construction science teachers understand both national, as well as local, efforts to bring high performance construction into the mainstream, and work with knowledgeable industry representatives who can help them with appropriate curriculum development. Teachers can find resources and learn about necessary competencies through their state Department of Labor and Industry, or comparable state government entity. School to Work programs, such as the Apprenticeship and Construction Exploration program in Seattle, Washington, are partnerships between industry and school districts. An example of a general, but comprehensive, carpentry technology program can be found at the Green River Community College website.

As has been stated elsewhere, however, high performance home building is currently the fastest growing trend in American residential construction. Market factors, such as the rising price of real estate, homes and nonrenewable energies, application of affordable renewable energies, and a growing concern for achieving high quality indoor environmental quality suggest this trend will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. By designing construction science programs that accommodate these realities, teachers will better prepare students for the job market the students are most likely to face.

Adapt High Performance Building Curriculum to Student Needs

In general, components of a construction science course may include builder's math, building codes, carpentry and roofing, drafting, electrical, job costing, masonry and concrete, site and layout design, and surveying. Safety, proper use and care of hand tools and power tools are also part of the basics. At some point, students may want to learn about such things as electrical, HVAC, painting and plumbing.

To adapt basic instruction to high performance building, teachers and students are encouraged to review the many tools referenced in this subsection. In addition, home tours and local green architects and builders may help teachers develop lesson plans and projects regarding high performance building. Although it is stressed throughout the curriculum materials listed, teachers and students must learn how to choose the sustainable technologies and building techniques that best suit the homeowner's goals and budget, as well as the site, design, and climate of the house, and integrate these factors into a whole house system. The curriculum resources in this subsection can help provide the materials and training necessary for students to understand this key concept..

For teachers and students interested in topics such as pollution prevention and indoor air quality, and who want to include those in a construction program, the Environmental Protection Agency's Teaching Center portal has an abundance of relevant materials. They are designed for use in the classroom and the field, and can help students progress from the simple to the complex. In addition, the Department of Energy's Lesson Plans key on renewable technologies as well as energy issues. Many of these resources are designed for high school and college students.

Marketing

Although outside the scope of most construction science programs, marketing is a key strategy for successful home builders committed to resource efficiency. Even award winning builders want to know how to effectively market the resource efficient homes they build. Helping students understand how to build a quality product that appeals to the market will enable them to better appreciate what their potential employers have to do to run a profitable company. Many green building programs conduct seminars to help builders market the benefits of resource efficient homes.

Student built homes, such as one built in Bismarck, North Dakota are sold to help repay partners or finance additional construction projects. The Bismarck home is the first of three to be built over a period of three years. The sales from each home helps finance the next, with additional proceeds going to make the program self-sustaining. In this case, the home was featured in the Bismarck "Parade of Homes", and students staffed the Energy Star booth at the local home show to promote energy efficiency. These type of activities allow students to communicate the benefits of resource efficient home building to the public. In turn, students get feedback from people on what they want in a home and questions they may have about high performance homes.


 

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The Construction Science Education Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Peaks to Prairies Pollution Prevention Center
Peaks to Prairies Pollution Prevention Center
Contact email: information@peakstoprairies.org

Hub Last Updated: 12/4/2012