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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Sustainable Building Design

Massachusetts Institute of Technology via edX


Meeting growing global energy demand, while mitigating climate change and environmental impacts, requires a large-scale transition to clean, sustainable energy systems. Students and professionals around the world must prepare for careers in this future energy landscape, gaining relevant skills and knowledge to expedite the transformation in industry, government and nongovernmental organizations, academia, and nonprofits.

The building sector represents a large percentage of overall energy consumption, and contributes 40% of the carbon emissions driving climate change. Yet buildings also offer opportunities for substantial, economical energy efficiency gains. From retrofit projects to new construction, buildings require a context-specific design process that integrates efficiency strategies and technologies.

In this course, you'll be introduced to a range of technologies and analysis techniques for designing comfortable, resource-efficient buildings.

The primary focus of this course is the study of the thermal and luminous behavior of buildings. You'll examine the basic scientific principles underlying these phenomena, and use computer-aided design software and climate data to explore the role light and energy can play in shaping architecture.

These efficiency design elements are critical to the larger challenge of producing energy for a growing population while reducing carbon emissions.

Please note: edX Inc. has recently entered into an agreement to transfer the edX platform to 2U, Inc., which will continue to run the platform thereafter. The sale will not affect your course enrollment, course fees or change your course experience for this offering. It is possible that the closing of the sale and the transfer of the edX platform may be effectuated sometime in the Fall while this course is running. Please be aware that there could be changes to the edX platform Privacy Policy or Terms of Service after the closing of the sale. However, 2U has committed to preserving robust privacy of individual data for all learners who use the platform. For more information see the edX Help Center.


Week 1 - Energy Use in Buildings

  • Course Introduction
  • Assignment: Energy Benchmarking

Week 2 - Understanding Climate

  • Solar Radiation
  • Wind, Temperature, and Relative Humidity
  • Assignment: Direct Shading

Week 3 - Designing with Climate

  • Thermal Comfort
  • Assignment: Thermal Comfort

Week 4 - Daylighting

  • Active Solar
  • Light and Human Vision
  • Assignment: PV Study

Week 5 - Daylight Simulations

    • Daylight Simulations and Availability Metrics
  • Material Surfaces
  • Assignment: Daylight Availability

Week 6 - Electric Lighting

  • Visual Comfort
  • Electric Lighting and Occupant Behavior
  • Assignment: Glare and Electric Lighting

Week 7 - Heat Flow

  • Thermal Mass and Heat Flow
  • Insulation Materials and Window Technologies
  • Assignment: Thermal Mass

Week 8 - Thermal Loads

  • Shading and Integrated Façade Design
  • Ventilation
  • Assignment: Natural Ventilation

Week 9 - Thermal Simulations

  • Internal Gains and Load Calculations
  • Assignment: Internal Gains

Week 10 - Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation (HVAC)

  • HVAC for Small Buildings
  • HVAC for Large Buildings

Weeks 11 - 12 Designing a Sustainable Building

    • Assignment: Final project: Designing a Sustainable Building

Week 13 - Grading Final Project

  • Peer review final design projects

Taught by

Christoph Reinhart


5.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

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  • Profile image for ARCHİTECT ERGUN
    Hello. This course is interesting for me. I need a diploma at the end of this course. Can you give some information about this subject? Best regards. Muharrem Ergun

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