Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Architectural design

Publication Details

PLEA 2017 PROCEEDINGS: ISBN (978-0-9928957-5-4) available from


This paper explores whether the architectural design of educational buildings - by incorporating an expression of the sustainable design - helps to educate users towards adoption of sustainable practices. Utilising observational studies from primary schools incorporating sustainable design measures, the research explored their impact on the curriculum.

School buildings accommodate the educational process but design briefs do not require that buildings educate their users. The paper demonstrated that sustainable features of the buildings were not well integrated into the curriculum and that one explanation was the lack of interpretation incorporated into the architecture to support teachers lacking an appreciation of sustainable built environments as part of a global ecosystem. Primary schools tend to deliver environmental education focussed on nature study and outdoor education rather than sustainable development.

Sustainable buildings often exhibit a performance gap for which building occupants and operators may be a contributory factor. Education within the curriculum and embedding knowledge in the architecture may reduce the gap and development of such an approach could benefit other buildings.

A ‘Designed-In’ approach is recommended, to make conspicuous the building design, attitudes and behaviours, offering future generations understanding of the impacts of built environments and personal actions on a sustainable future.