Duration: 4 weeks, 1/2 units/week (24 hours total)

Module Introduction

Loss of biodiversity, increasing temperatures, oceans acidification, land and aquifers’ pollution, disproportionate consumption of resources, endless production of waste, are the bordering conditions that we have now after 100 years of application of a business model that has proved unsustainable in practice. Within this module we will try to evolve our mental settingtowards an approach more compatible with the ecosystem, with a specific focus on the built environment and the design, construction and operations practices.

Module Focus

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 10 years (Sustainable building, Net zero, Greenwashing…) we’ll try to shift our mental model from an independent approach to a system thinking approach.

Once we start to apply the above contents into the building market, we’ll link them with international rating system, in order to understand the many differences that characterised each other and their different contribution to environmental topics. In order to emphasise the system thinking approach we’ll study deeply the interconnection and overlapping between the different disciplines that will let us move to a more integrative approach.

In the last 15 years, due to the diffusion of environmental certification schemes that emphasise the role of the indoor environmental quality, started to obtain a lot of attentions the importance of health within the built environment. We’ll study a holistic framework in order to let us understand what is well being in the built environment and how we can measure it, recognise it and improve it. Within this unit we’ll focus on biophilic design, material’s safety and company social transparency.

Last part of our module will focus on the economic aspects related to environmental and healthy friendly building.

During the entire Module we’ll apply the studied concepts on a rural building located in Trentino Alto Adige, working on the landscape, the biophilic approach, the life cycle analysis.

The Structure

Each lesson is characterized by a first theoretical part and a practical exercise.

The last unit is dedicated to the review of some plans that the participants have been asked to develop during the course.
FS01 - Planet Boundaries and Fundamental Principles (2 Units - 5 Hours Lecture + 1 Hour Seminar)

4 October 2022

1 Unit - Planet Boundaries (10 am-1pm)
The unit provides an overview of the Planet Boundary 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. You will apply the model in different scenarios , economic, social and environmental. Connection with the SDG and ESG reporting are part of the contents.

1 Unit - Definitions and principles (2pm-5pm)
We’ll define and understand the words 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 we will talk about performances comparing historic building vs contemporary buildings, low rise vs high rise buildings.
We’ll 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.

Laboratory: working on the exterior of the building - create an Ecological Adaptive Plan.
FS02 – Building and Products Performances and Environmental Rating Systems (2 Units - 4 Hours Lecture + 2 Hours Seminar)

10 October 2022

1 Unit - Rating Systems and Products Declarations (10 am-1pm)
Within this unit we’ll compare different rating systems that are mostly used by the market with at least a focus on one rating systems for Green Building and one rating systems for Sustainable building.
We’ll focus on the common strategies that are part of green building approach and the different analysis request from a sustainable approach.

Seminar: analyze the checklist in order to understand and compare building performances.

1 Unit - Rating Systems and Products Declarations (2pm-5pm)
Within this unit we’ll talk about 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.

Laboratory: how to read product certifications
FS03 – Healthy Buildings (2 Units - 4 Hours Lecture + 2 Hours Seminar)

17 October 2022

1 Unit - A Framework for Healthy Building (10 am-1pm)
This unit provides a holistic view related to buildings and people health . We’ll learn a framework that can be used to understand how a building is healthy-oriented. We’ll 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.

Seminar: Create the Healthy Indoor Environment Plan 

1 Unit - Tools in order to enhance Mental, Physical and Social Healthy (2pm-5pm)
Focus on: tools for Biophilic design, understanding materials’ safety, tools for company’ social transparency.

Laboratory: create your biophilic plan
FS04 – Business Case for Environmental Friendly and Healthy Building (1 Unit - 3 Hours Lecture)

27 October 2022

Within this unit we’ll learn a framework in order to understand cost and benefit linked to an environmentally friendly and healthy building, with a Life Cycle Approach.
We’ll talk about:
- Design and Construction Costs
- Asset Value
- Operating Costs
- Workplace Productivity and Health
- Risk Mitigation
FS05 – Final Review (1 Unit - 3 Hours Seminar)

8 November 2022

Review of the laboratories:
- Create your Ecological Adaptive Plan
- Create your Biophilic Plan
- Create your Healthy Indoor Environment Plan

Module Leader

Alessandro Speccher - System Thinker and Environmental Engineer

Professional engineer with several accreditation, 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, Alessandro Speccher is a renowned national educator and consultant on Green, Sustainable and Regenerative topics. He is also a photographer and a writer on environmental and social topics, his images and articles were published on magazines like La Stampa, Il sole 24 ore, Renewable Matter, La Repubblica.

He started to work into the green building movement in 2007, as part of the core team that contributed to the founding of the not for profit organization GBC Italia.  With GBC Italia, in 2009 he was part of the technical team that managed with USGBC the creation of the rating system LEED 2009 Italia for New Construction and Major Renovation. In 2008 he developed the dynamic energy modeling for the first LEED certified school in Europe and then taught to the first Italian LEED AP class, 80 professional became accredited after that. Still now he works with GBC Italia creating customized and strategic education programs for companies preparing LEED GA, LEED AP and WELL AP exams.

With the International Facility Management Associations, Italian Chapter, he designed and teaches the “Green Facility Specialist” education program in order to spread a more environmentally friendly approach to building operations and maintenance.

From 2014 to 2018 he has been “Head of Sustainability” for the international architecture firm “Progetto CMR”, one of the biggest architectural companies in Italy, applying LEED, BREEAM, WELL in several projects, working with the team on environmental design optimization. In 2018 he was the opening speaker for the 4th international exhibition and conference on building restoration, in Tel Aviv. In 2019 he did a Short-Term Scientific Mission in Seattle (USA), working with the International Living future Institute at the Bullit Center.