Client-Oriented Project Based Learning Using Building Audits

By Jess W. Everett, William Riddell, Christopher Moore, Samantha Valentine and Robert Krchnavek

This paper presents best-practices for client-oriented project based learning (PBL) based on building audits used to impart practical sustainable engineering skills. Insights were gained over years of natural reflective practice during which students conducted off-campus building audits for the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Few studies have explored the use of off-campus building audits with real clients in project based learning courses. A survey of students from recent semesters, plus tangible outcomes, are used to evaluate success. The building audits are valued by students and clients. Best-practices contributing to the success of the building audit course are described which can be used by any PBL practitioner. Critical best-practices pertain to training, deliverables, a report template, a submit-review-resubmit cycle, and regular interaction between undergraduate students, graduate student, faculty, and client staff. In particular, repeated cycles of submitting reports, getting comments, and resubmitting appear to be vital to both student learning and client satisfaction. On average, student teams submitted their major report 3.75 times and received comments 3.9 times.

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