Duration: 4 weeks, 2 units/week

Cost: 1000 euro

Dates: the weeks of October 4th to October 29th

A SOS certified course for those who want to acquire the necessary practical skills to becoming sustainability consultants in the fields of architecture and engineering. By successfully completing this course you are eligible for becoming a Sustainability Consultant Practitioner (Basic Level).

Module Introduction

The great dilemma that both developed and developing countries face in re-orienting 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 would consume 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.

The UN resolution in September 2015 adopting a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity in a new global development framework anchored in 17 Sustainable Development Goals, builds on the principle of “leaving no one behind” and emphasizes a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all. To tackle with this unprecedented challenge Institutional bodies at different scales and the industry at large will need new professional figures trained to identify the most suitable solutions for transitioning them to sustainability and circular economy.

Module Focus

The module introduces students to the culture of sustainability through the dialogue whit different personalities who share a vision on the future. It analyzes key issues and challenges that lie ahead, providing the knowledge and tools necessary to design a decent and fair future for all. It fosters the development of creativity engaged in the search for appropriate solutions in harmony with the environment and the cultural context. It includes keywords for building a ‘common vocabulary’ of the key themes of sustainability, the environmental challenges we face in the coming decades as well as the emerging needs of people.

The module engages students in developing the ‘meaning’ of keywords through the acquisition of new knowledge. They will be involved in processing data collected to identify main themes and challenges. The module is based on a multidisciplinary introduction to the principal lines of research and professional activities in the field of sustainability. Classes are taught by established professionals, innovators and researchers, who will engage in discussion with students. Topics include climate, de-carbonization, emerging technologies, social innovation, the relationship between economy and ecology, growth forecasts and opportunities for society and the region where they operate as professionals.

The Structure

1st Unit Sustainability Fundamentals (1 hour Lecture)

The unit provides an overview on Sustainability as a multifaceted issue, while establishing a common vocabulary of its key themes, the challenges we will face in the coming decades, the emerging needs of individuals and communities, as well as promising opportunities they might exploit in the future. It stimulates a reflection on a comparison between the sustainability approach and the regenerative culture, in consideration of the planet boundaries definition.

Context exploration (1 hour Tutorial / Task)
Starting from an assigned brief, expand the contextual framework by finding the key data helpful to analyse its main issues.


2nd Unit Sustainable Thinking Evolution (1 hour Lecture)

Sustainability will be looked at throughout the evolution of ancient, modern, and contemporary times, and by identifying key facts and figures that contributed to shaping the meaning that we attribute today to this term. The unit provides an overview on the evolution of the agreements on climate change and the de-carbonization that were carried on. Specific topics include the Kyoto Protocol, the UNFCCC Parties (Conference of the Parties, COP) that were established to assess progress in dealing with climate change and their milestones, the Paris agreement, the 17 SDGs and a possible Roadmap to 2050.

Future-crafting (1 hour Tutorial / Task)

Try to build future scenarios referred to the initial context, considering the international objectives and by interpreting the “signals of Future” hidden in the trends already in place.

1st + 2nd Unit Postcards from the Future (2 hours Review / Discussion)

Present “postcards from the future” representing one or several possible scenarios regarding the context described in the assigned brief, supported by data collected in the two previous tasks and by using graphic or video tools that best fit your preferences.

3rd Unit Anthropocene and Climate Change (1 hour Lecture)

The unit describes climate change scenarios in light of the most recent reports published by the IPCC, highlighting their relationship with the human lifestyle. It delves into the areas of the world that will be subject to greater environmental criticality and analyzes the related risks. It provides an overview of possible measures and tools to cope with climate change, distinguishing between mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Risks, mitigations, and adaptation measures (1 hour Tutorial / Task)

Find key data to identify and describe the environmental risks that are already hitting or will soon hit the assigned context and assumes possible mitigation and adaptation measures with proven effectiveness.


4th Unit Learning from Nature (1 hour Lecture)

We are in the Anthropocene era, where human beings have shown themselves capable of radically modifying the Earth's environment and its dynamics. However, the evolution of humankind has not always been characterized by a relationship of conflict with the environment, in which we are embedded in. Recovering the awareness of this symbiosis can bring us to establish a new condition of balance, under the sign of a renewed collaboration with the Planet. Can nature itself provide the principles for such a reversal of course?

Biomimicry (1 hour Tutorial / Task)

Find an example drawn from nature that can inspire how to cope with the previously analysed risks and abstract the principles to be transposed into a schematic concept of a possible design solution.

3rd + 4th Unit Resilience concept (2 hours Review / Discussion)

Present a robust storytelling illustrating a strategic concept aimed to increase the resilience of the assigned context with respect to the risks it is exposed to, by describing how innovative and nature-driven solution can be helpful in facing those challenges.

5th Unit Life Cycle Assessment (1 hour Lecture)

The unit provides and introduction on life cycle thinking, followed by a focus on life cycle analysis and its main concepts: system boundaries, operational vs embodied impact, tools and certifications. It offers an introduction to measuring standards to be used in life cycle analysis (ISO14044:2006, EN15978:2011) and addresses the life cycle methodology through a portfolio of specific examples. It also introduces water footprint, its relevance and management.

Baseline definition (1 hour Tutorial / Task)

For each assigned area, construct a baseline of a hypothetical case study which will be the starting point for the subsequent life cycle assessment and the first term of comparison to measure the effectiveness of different design approaches.


6th Unit Carbon reduction strategies (1 hour Lecture)

The unit includes an overview of carbon reduction strategies that can be applied at the urban / building scale, providing evidence of their effectiveness. It also gives an outline of carbon sequestration and offsetting measures, as non-preferential but necessary pathways to decarbonization. A focus will be on End-of-Life scenarios, life service's extension and limitations / opportunities of reuse strategies.

Assessment and optimization strategies (1 hour Tutorial / Task)

Assess the life cycle impact of the base case considering the GWP indicator, hypothesize optimization scenarios leading to carbon neutrality and compare the effectiveness of different strategies to pursue it.

5th + 6th Unit Life Cycle Assessment Report (2 hours Review / Discussion)

Present a report including the description of the base-case and its assumptions, a comparison of the improvement strategies suggested to purse carbon neutrality, supported by the application of the LCA methodology.

7th Unit Social Foundation: shortfall (1 hour Lecture)

Starting from the Doughnut economics model, this unit focuses on the social impacts of the current development model, covering a wide range of topics including well-being and equity, access to basic needs, fair distribution of income, good working conditions and decent wages, equality of rights, inter-and intragenerational justice, access to social and health services and to education, social cohesion, and inclusion. It explains how economy, ecology and social empowerment are intertwined and lays the ground to promote social innovation and social business.

Social impacts (1 hour Tutorial / Task)

For each assigned area, identify the main social impacts and explain how they relate with the economic and ecologic conditions in place.


8th Unit Social Sustainability: community empowerment (1 hour Lecture)

This unit focuses on the importance of "process" over "outcomes", by explaining how community engagement can be the key to build successful initiatives starting from the bottom and illustrating the main tools to design a participatory process. It introduces the concepts of active listening and creative conflict management and presents a series of case studies ranging from urban regeneration projects to post-disaster recovery, from common good management to the implementation of infrastructures that divide the public debate.

Stakeholder Map / Participatory Process (1 hour Tutorial / Task)

Identify the actors needed to address the socio-economic issues previously analysed, understand their mutual relationships, and imagine a possible participatory process to involve them in the design debate.

7th + 8th Unit Community empowerment strategy (2 hours Review / Discussion)

Present a stakeholder map and outline a participatory process with the aim to enrich the co-design and overcome the emerging issues of each area.

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