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Module 4: Energy and Atmosphere

9, 10, 11, 12
Essential questions
How do people use energy in buildings and what factors impact how much energy buildings use?
What is “energy demand” and why is reducing it a challenge?
What are several concrete strategies for reducing energy demand?
How can reducing energy help the environment?
What is passive design, and how can it be added to a building to create a sustainable energy system?

LESSON 4.1: Envisioning Energy in Buildings
(Estimated time needed: Three 55-minute sessions)
In this lesson, students examine how buildings commonly use energy, particularly to regulate temperature and provide electricity, and where this energy comes from. They tour their school building to examine different ways energy is used within the building. Then they research several impacts that using that energy has on the environment, including climate change, acid precipitation, and ozone depletion. Students form groups to create mini-lessons on five key areas of environmental impact and then teach their peers about the impact. Throughout the lesson, students examine how human behavior and green building can effectively reduce energy consumption in buildings and, thus, the use of fossil fuels.

LESSON 4.5: Seeking Net Zero
(Estimated time needed: Three 55-minute sessions)
In this lesson, students explore the fact that many buildings today primarily use nonrenewable energy resources over renewable energy sources. Students examine various energy sources and make a case for the use of renewable energy as the primary source of power for the built environment. Students also examine case studies of net-zero and carbon-negative design practices in buildings and cities. Then they collaborate to design a net-zero building for the future.

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