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


Cost: 1.000€


Dates: from November 21st to December 12th 2023

A SOS certified course for those who want to acquire the necessary practical skills to becoming Healthy Materials and Sustainable Products consultant (Basic Level) in the constructions sector.

Course Introduction

The construction industry is one of the largest pollutants, generating a lot of waste and CO2 emissions. Correctly choosing sustainable materials is a significant step towards sustainability in the architectural field. It is also crucial to implement lower-impact ways to produce materials and apply circular-economy principles to optimize their use and reuse. In this course, we will explore various materials from traditional to innovative ones, and examine their sustainability level, origin, production techniques, and post-life. We will also focus on the performance-based approach, which includes analysing the needs of a building during the design stage. The course will cover specific areas of performance-based approach, including energy, acoustics, lighting, and structural requirements. Students will learn about the impact of construction materials on the energy efficiency of buildings and how to select materials that can help achieve optimal energy performance. They will also understand how to choose materials that can improve acoustics, lighting, and structural performance based on the building's intended use.

By taking a holistic approach to the selection of construction materials, students will be able to understand how sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and performance are interlinked, and how to optimize them in their designs. Ultimately, this course will prepare students to become environmentally responsible architects who prioritize the use of sustainable materials in their projects and help create a more sustainable future for the construction industry.

Course Objectives

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  1. Understand the importance of materials choice on the building sustainability and the impact of construction materials on the environment, waste, and CO2 emissions.
  2. Recognize and evaluate traditional and innovative materials based on their sustainability level, origin, production techniques, and post-life, and be able to suggest alternative solutions.
  3. Be familiar with bio-origin, recycled materials, innovative production techniques such as 3D printing, knitting and milling with CNC machines, individuate which materials can be elaborated with these new techniques, and their advantages and disadvantages in terms of sustainability.
  4. Be able to apply a performance-based approach to select materials that will not only be sustainable but also meet the building's performance requirements.
  5. Understand the implementation of lower-impact ways to produce materials and the application of circular-economy principles to optimize the use and reuse of these materials.
  6. Be able to critically analyse and choose materials depending on the project needs, considering sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and performance.
The course will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the most important construction materials on the market and on research stage, their properties, and the role of sustainability in their selection. The theoretical and practical parts of the course will enable students to apply their knowledge in real-life scenarios and make informed decisions when choosing materials for their future projects, while also addressing the environmental impacts and performance requirements of the buildings. Ultimately, the implementation of lower-impact ways to produce materials and the application of circular-economy principles can lead to the creation of healthier and more sustainable buildings.

The Structure

Classes will last 6 hours (frontal lesson + practical activities) divided in 4 modules as below.

Each module will consist of a theoretical lecture and a practical workshop. During the workshops, students will be asked to analyze various materials, their properties, and sustainability levels.
HM01 - Material Balance Design for Healthy Materials and Sustainable Products (1 Unit - 6 Hours Lecture and Workshop)

21 November 2023

This lecture will provide students with an introductory exploration of sustainable materials, encompassing both traditional and innovative approaches . Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the significance of distinguishing genuine innovation from greenwashing in the context of material selection. Additionally, the lecture will shed light on the challenges associated with implementing innovation within the construction market and emphasize the importance of finding a harmonious balance.

During the workshop, students will examine various materials, both traditional and innovative, along with their production techniques. They will assess the sustainability level, origin, and properties of these materials. By engaging in hands-on activities and case studies, students will gain practical skills to identify sustainable materials while considering the limitations and opportunities presented by the construction industry.
HM02 - Materials and their Production Techniques (1 Unit - 6 Hours Lecture and Workshop)

28 November 2023

This lecture will provide an overview of materials used in construction, including traditional materials and their evolution over time. It will focus on innovative production techniques and their role in sustainable material development. Students will learn about the advancements in manufacturing processes and how they contribute to environmental sustainability.

During the workshop, students will actively explore specific production techniques employed for various materials. Working in groups, they will have the opportunity to select a material that can be processed using both traditional and newer technologies, such as comparing clay brick making with clay 3D printing. Through this exercise, students will evaluate the sustainability aspects of each technique, highlighting their respective advantages, disadvantages, and environmental impacts.
HM03 - Performance-Based Approach to Materials Selection (1 Unit - 6 Hours Lecture and Workshop)

5 December 2023

This lecture will provide an introduction to the performance-based approach to materials selection, emphasizing its role in optimizing the use of sustainable materials. Students will gain an understanding of the key principles and concepts behind the performance-based approach, with a particular focus on energy efficiency, acoustics, lighting, and structural requirements. Through this lecture, students will develop the knowledge and tools necessary to make informed decisions when selecting materials based on performance considerations.

During the workshop, students will actively apply the performance-based approach to material selection by working in groups. Each group will be assigned a specific area, such as energy efficiency, acoustics, lighting, or structural performance. The objective will be to analyse the current materials being used to enhance the performance of spaces in that area and explore innovative materials available in the market or under research and development. Students will compare these materials based on their suitability for the architectural applications, taking into account geographical variables, sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and overall performance requirements.
HM04 - Navigating Bureaucracy in Materials (1 Unit - 6 Hours Lecture and Workshop)

12 December 2023

This lecture will address the challenges of implementing innovation in the construction field due to regulations and certifications that are necessary for safety reasons. Students will explore the bureaucratic landscape that surrounds materials in construction, including quality control measures and the process of obtaining certifications. The lecture will also introduce the main certifications relevant to construction materials.

During the workshop, students will gain practical knowledge about navigating the bureaucratic requirements related to materials in construction. They will learn how to critically assess the quality and compliance of materials, understand the certification processes, and identify the main certifications applicable to sustainable construction.

Module Leader

Maria Anishchenko - Architect and a PhD Candidate in Architectural Technology

Affiliated with the Material Balance Research Group at Politecnico di Milano, her research focuses on advanced methods of material production for architecture and design, with a particular emphasis on innovative materials and production techniques. Currently, her research centres around the innovative application of computational knitting technology in the realm of architectural textiles. Maria has been actively involved in international projects and installations that have been featured in magazines and showcased at prestigious events such as Milan Design Week and the Venice Biennale. Alongside her research pursuits, she has also gained experience teaching and assisting in architectural classes at Politecnico di Milano and delivering lectures on architecture and sustainability at public and private architectural design schools.

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