Course Title: Design sustainable buildings

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2015

Course Code: ARCH5203

Course Title: Design sustainable buildings

School: 320T Architecture & Design

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6136 - Advanced Diploma of Building Design (Architectural)

Course Contact: Catherine Ciavarella

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 9819

Course Contact Email:

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

 Andrew Rodda:

Skype: andrewRMIT

Nominal Hours: 90

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites


Course Description

This unit of competency specifies the outcomes required to apply the principles of sustainability to building design. It includes the application of sustainable practices to minimise negative impacts of the construction process and land use on the environment, incorporate passive design, sustainable water use and energy efficiency into a building design and select suitable materials for the construction of the building. It requires compliance with relevant legislation, Australian Standards and the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VU21593 Design sustainable buildings


1. Determine the impacts of building development on the natural environment.

Performance Criteria:

1.1 Impacts of building development on surrounding
ecosystems are researched to identify the benefits of
sound environmental policy.
1.2 Triple Bottom Line approaches are determined for
consideration in the designing of buildings.
1.3 Current government and industry responses to
Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) are
researched and representative organisations for ESD
are identified to ascertain current policies and


2. Incorporate sustainable criteria into building design

Performance Criteria:

 2.1 Location specific climates and their characteristics
are identified and their impact on building design is
researched to inform the design.
2.2 Basic principles and integration for building orientation,
minimal site impact, thermal mass, insulation, glass
exposure and ventilation are determined to maximise
integration of sustainable design principles in the
2.3 Site influences and sun path are considered to
maximise opportunities for passive heating and cooling.
2.4 Passive design principles are incorporated into a
design project.
2.5 Sustainable site development practices are included
in design specifications.
2.6 Appropriate form of construction is selected and
documented according to client brief and specifications.


3. Select sustainable materials

Performance Criteria:

3.1 Characteristics of sustainable materials are identified
and analysed to inform material selection.
3.2 Sustainability of a range of building materials is
compared and suitable materials are selected for a
specific building design, in accordance with current
legislation and the BCA.


4. Incorporate systems for sustainable water use

Performance Criteria:

4.1 Systems for water collection, storage, use and reuse
are incorporated into building design, in
accordance with relevant legislation and local
4.2 Alternative systems for reticulated water and effluent
disposal are investigated and described.
4.3 Strategies to prevent run-off are investigated and
incorporated into design.


5. Incorporate energy efficiency into building design

Performance Criteria:

5.1 Energy efficient design principles are identified in
accordance with current legislation and the BCA.
5.2 Renewable energy sources are researched and
integrated into building design and best practice
options for energy conservation are recommended.
5.3 Selection and use of energy efficient fittings, appliances
and services are determined and included in design

Learning Outcomes

This unit supports the attainment of the skills and knowledge required for building designers to design sustainable buildings within the context of relevant legislation, the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and Australian Standards.

Details of Learning Activities

  A range of activities including:

  • online content modules
  • regular online tutorial and chat sessions
  • directed and self guided learning
  • Group project work
  • Individual assessment tasks

Teaching Schedule

The current teaching schedule is located within the course shell of the RMIT Distributed Learning System (D.L.S), (Blackboard).

The following schedule is indicative only.

Semester 1 
1Course Introduction: Face to Face
2DLS familiarisation
3Site Recording
5Sun Angles
6Green Building History
7Legislative History
8Course Feedback + Information Q&A
9Materials- General
10Materials- Waste Minimisation
11Wall type final approvals/ confirmation
12Materials- Thermal Mass
13Materials- Insulation
14Materials- Toxicity
15Water- Harvesting
16Water- Gutter & Downpipes
 Semester 2 
1Landscape- Permaculture
2Energy- Context
3Energy- Generation
5Energy- Embodied + Operational
6Energy- Legislation
7Assessment Task Checkup (optional)
9Sunlight + Shading
10Global Sustainability
11Design- Exemplars
12Course Feedback Survey (online)

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts


All relevant Australian Standards
Manufacturers Details

Other Resources

Overview of Assessment

This unit of competency could be assessed in the workplace or a close simulation of the workplace environment, provided that simulated or project-based assessment techniques fully replicate design drafting workplace conditions, materials, activities,
responsibilities and procedures. Holistic or project-based assessment with other related units is recommended.

A person who demonstrates competency in this unit must be able to provide evidence of the ability to:
• apply the principles of sustainable building design in accordance with current legislation and government policies
• evaluate and recommend sustainable materials suitable for the construction of a specific building design in accordance with client brief and specifications
• research, evaluate and report on data and findings, make recommendations and develop strategies for the design of sustainable buildings for at least one building development project that complies with the applicable local government authority, relevant legislation and the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

Assessment Tasks

A range of assessment tasks covering theory and application of the content topics.

  • Weekly online topic quizzes (20% of course grade)
  • Office Practice Interview  (10% of course grade)
  • Materials Research Project  (10% of course grade)
  • Alternative wall construction  (30% of course grade)
  • Design Project (30% of course grade)

Assessment Matrix

The assessment matrix is located within the course shell of the RMIT Distributed Learning System (D.L.S), (Blackboard).

Other Information

Academic Progress:
At the end of each academic period individual student progress will be reviewed by the Student Academic Progress Review Committee and students will be advised of their eligibility for progression.

Student Charter:
The Student Charter, in association with the University’s statutes and law, indicates what the University and its students can expect from each other. The University’s mission is to create and disseminate knowledge to meet the needs of industry and the community and to foster in students the skills and passion to contribute to and engage with the world.;ID=tkn8wtd23h84z (unresolved)

Student Responsibilities:
In undertaking this course students are required to be responsible for:
•The time management of the course work in order to complete all work requirements satisfactorily and on time.
•RMIT encourages students to attend all scheduled classes to optimise academic success.
•To ascertain what content or assessment has been missed, and gather the information prior to next class.
•To be proactive in mastering the academic material of the course by challenging, questioning and extending course outcomes.
•To be responsible for the maintenance of a non-disruptive and scholastic attitude in the learning environment.
See RMIT Academic progress information, responsibilities and support for current students:;ID=nzasms4pljer (unresolved)

Extension of Time for Submission of Assessable work Procedure:
Students must refer to the RMIT policy for eligibility and procedures.;ID=7usdbki1fjf31;STATUS=A?QRY=extension%20of%20time%20form&STYPE=ENTIRE (unresolved) 

Equitable Assessment:
Students must refer to the RMIT policy for eligibility and procedures.;ID=id0959jyz9mx (unresolved)

Special Consideration:
Students must refer to the RMIT policy for eligibility and procedures.;ID=qkssnx1c5r0y (unresolved)

Assessment Decisions:
Final assessment decisions can be reviewed and or appealed.
See RMIT Assessment Policies:;ID=ikqkqdh2zf5n1 (unresolved) 

Employability skills:
Employability skills describe non-technical skills and competencies that are an important part of effective and successful participation in the workplace.
The following Employability Skills are an inherent part of this course:
Communication, Teamwork, Problem solving, Initiative and enterprise, Planning and organising, Self management, Learning and Technology.

Refer to the RMIT policy on plagiarism which is reference under Academic Integrity atRMIT;ID=kw02ylsd8z3n;STATUS=A?QRY=Plagiarism%20-%20student%20information&STYPE=ENTIRE (unresolved) 

Course Overview: Access Course Overview