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Put A Brick In The Toilet: Overcoming Student Perceptions of the Effectiveness of Naïve Environmental Solutions

By Theodore J. Hogan and Paul Kelter

Eat local. Choose a reusable bag instead of plastic. Put a brick in the toilet. These are intuitively simplistic environmental “solutions” that may do little but make a person feel environmentally virtuous. Energy and environmental science teaching requires us to change students’ preconceived simplistic notions about solving environmental issues if we want these future leaders to make real environmentally effective decisions. Students need to understand that the energy input in a disposable plastic bag is dwarfed by the energy expenditure of driving to the grocery store with a reusable bag, so that they don’t make symbolic, but ineffective decisions. One approach is to have students attempt to develop a “sustainable” product. The complexity of environmental solutions becomes evident when we have to evaluate the energy use and environmental consequences from raw material sourcing to reuse.

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The Role of the Architect in Sustainability Education

By Christopher Haines

In this thoughtful, and fundamentally practical, down-to-earth essay, Christopher Haines puts architects squarely on the front-lines of sustainability education. He shows us, with real applications based on thoughtful inter-disciplinary analysis, how the complexities an architect faces in designing a building extend their tentacles into every aspect of sustainability—from environment to economics to social and psychological considerations.

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