Duration: (3h pre-recorded online lectures + 21 online live sessions / 24 hours total)

Course Introduction

The great dilemma that both developed and developing countries face in reorienting their patterns of growth towards of a more harmonious interaction between human beings and nature is accentuated by the uneven stages of their current developments. If all individuals and communities across the globe consumed natural resources at the pace of developed countries this would lead to a faster annihilation of the ecosystems while adding on the already unsustainable demands on the biosphere. Although development is a legitimate ambition of less developed countries, this should be pursued within a new green framework where growth doesn’t happen at the disadvantage of the environment. This shift requires interventions that are both political, financial and cultural.

Course Objectives

The module introduces students to a sustainable mind setting. It starts from the study of the planet boundaries in order to understand the border of the analysis and link them to the built environment.

After some key definitions of the most misunderstood terms used in the last 15 years (Sustainable building, Net zero, Greenwashing…) students will be pushed to shift their mental model from an independent approach to a system thinking approach.

The Structure

The course spans a total amount of 24 hours, distributed between 3 hours of pre-recorded lectures and 21 hours conducted interactively through live sessions online on the Uninettuno e-learning platform.

The Foundations of Sustainability schedule includes approximately 3 hours of face-to-face lectures each week, divided in modules as below. In addition to these lectures, students are required to engage in group or individual project work, complete assignments, and tutorials, and undertake research for an in-depth study of the topics covered in class.
FS01 - Planet Boundaries and Fundamental Principles

1 Unit - Planet Boundaries

The unit provides an overview of the Planet Boundaries and the connection between them and the built environment.
Students will work to shift their mind setting to a more sustainable one, reflecting on the Herman Daly’s Rules and system’s thinking approach. They will apply the model in different scenarios , economic, social and environmental. Connection with the SDG and ESG reporting are part of the contents.

2 Unit - Definitions and Principles

Definition and understanding of the concepts Green Building, Sustainable Building, Living Building, Regenerative Building, NetZero, Benchmark, Healthy Building, Biophilic Approach, Green Washing with many examples from the existing building stock. In this unit participants will talk about performances comparing historic building vs contemporary buildings, low rise vs high rise buildings.
They will apply the “Reduce demand - Increase efficiency - Generate renewable” approach as a method for energy and water analysis and “Reduce - Reuse - Recycle” approach as a method for material selection.

Seminar: students will be invite to analyse some patterns that are present in the vernacular architecture of their country. Works will be presented to the classroom during Workshop 1.
FS02 – Make Visible the Invisible

1 Unit - Rating Systems and Product Declarations

Within this unit students will compare different rating systems that are mostly used by the market with at least a focus on one rating system for Green Building and one rating systems for Sustainable Building.
The focus will be on the common strategies that are part of green building approach and the different analysis request from a sustainable approach.

Seminar: students will be invited to analyse a building and fill a project checklist. Works will be presented to the classroom during Workshop 2.

2 Unit - Rating Systems and Product Declarations

Within this unit students will address construction materials with a focus on building product declarations and certifications (EPD, Self Declaration, Materials’ emissions...) related to material’s transparency and healthiness, environmental footprint and the different requirements asked by different rating systems.

FS03 – Vernacular Architecture

Within this exercise students will have the time to discuss together the similarity and differences of vernacular architecture in different countries. They will be asked to present the class a significant vernacular building of their country, they will discuss and share ideas on how a vernacular building can cope with sustainability and healthy building concepts.
FS04 – Healthy Buildings

1 Unit - A Framework for Healthy Building

This unit provides a holistic view related to buildings and people health . Students will learn a framework that can be used to understand how a building is healthy-oriented. They will start from the definition of Health in order to articulate the discussion across its three parts: Physical, Mental and Social , and their connection within the building market.

2 Unit - Tools to enhance Mental, Physical and Social Healthy

Focus on: tools for biophilic design, materials’ safety, company social transparency.

FS05 – Business Case & Rating System Comparison

Within this unit students will learn a framework to understand costs and benefits linked to an environmental friendly and healthy building, with a Life Cycle Approach.
In details:
- Design and Construction Costs
- Asset Value
- Operating Costs
- Workplace Productivity and Health
- Risk Mitigation
FS06 – Rating System Comparison

Within this exercise students will work on the checklist and the pre assessment. The class will be divided in 2 groups, each group will choose a different rating system and will work on a project. Afterwards all students will discuss strengths and opportunity of their work.

Course Leader

Alessandro Speccher - Educator and Regenerative Inspirator

Professional Engineer, LEED AP BD+C from 2008, WELL AP, USGBC Faculty, WELL AP, LFA, qualified auditor in accordance with ISO 50001 and Energy management Expert in accordance with UNI CEI 11339:2009. He started to work into the Green Building market in 2007 as part of the founding team of GBC Italia, until 2012 as president’s assistant and from 2013 as education manager. 

From 2010 he taught Sustainability topics in several university masters (more than 600 hours) in Venice (Faculty of architecture IUAV), Turin (Polytechnic, Faculty of architecture), Milan (Polytechnic, Faculty of architecture), Rome (La Sapienza University), Naples (Faculty of Architecture Federico II, PhD School), IED (European Institute of Design) and many others. 

He did the dynamic Energy modeling for the 1st LEED certified school in Europe in 2009. From 2014 to 2018 he was “Head of sustainability” for primary international architecture firm (more than 300.000 m2 of certified/under certification buildings with several rating systems such LEED, BREEAM, WELL). 

He is also an architecture photographer and a writer on regenerative topics.