ARCH 463 & 463L
Environmental Control Systems

Instructor: Mauricio Espinosa

Office: via e-mail
Office Hours:  Make appointments via e-mail or just drop in!

Teaching Assistants:   

Fall 2023: Lectures will be delivered in person and on-line via ZOOM. All sessions will be recorded and available to view via your Microsoft Stream account at 

Labs 03 & 04 are combined and taught via the HyFlex instructional method, a combination of video conferencing and face-to-face components. Your TA will advise you of your lab schedule. .

Note: All the lectures will be recorded and available on Stream for you to view at your leisure.

Course Overview

The designed environment has a profound influence on our physical and mental well-being.  Additionally, the built environment is responsible for almost half of US energy use and contributes profoundly toward global warming, which in turn affects our mental and physical well-being. LEED criteria, the Kyoto Protocol, the Living Building Challenge, AIA's Framework for Design Excellence, the goals of Architecture 2030 to make new US buildings and major renovations carbon-neutral by 2030 and of the 2050 Imperative by the International Union of Architects (UIA) to make all buildings and the built environment carbon-neutral by 2050, are all clear signs that architects, law makers, and businessmen world-wide are recognizing the multiple impacts of ecological issues and are willing to engage in “regenerative” thinking. Thus recent green architecture, healthy buildings, and sustainability movements are attempts to generate ecologically-responsive architecture that ensures the future viability of the planet.  Over two semesters this course introduces the theory of an ecological and biological approach to architecture and covers the schematic design of buildings for thermal comfort, energy use, embodied energy, air quality, lighting, water use, acoustics, and views. The intent is for students to learn to design places that respond to short-term human biological needs as well as long term planetary needs without sacrificing beauty.   

Lectures and projects are organized to parallel the design process, with emphasis on the architectural implications of technological systems. Climate and region are approached as a context for design. Principles of thermal comfort, regional design strategies, and ecological design process are covered. The interconnections of climate, site, thermal comfort, culture, and building design are addressed with the realization that the “difficult whole” sometimes has multiple "logics" which demand a high degree of design finesse. Lectures and exercises are geared toward analytic and evaluative processes as a means to better inform design. Assignments include bioclimatic site analysis, schematic design strategies, and schematic level design and analysis. These early stages of design are significant because 80% of potential energy savings and the best ecologically responsive fit can be accomplished at the programmatic and schematic phase of a project.


This course aims to meet the NAAB Student Performance Criteria in Realm A, Critical Thinking and Representation, and Realm B, Building Practices, Technical Skills, and Knowledge.

Realm A: Critical Thinking and Representation. Graduates from NAAB-accredited programs must be able to build abstract relationships and understand the impact of ideas based on the study and analysis of multiple theoretical, social, political, economic, cultural, and environmental contexts. Graduates must also be able to use a diverse range of skills to think about and convey architectural ideas, including writing, investigating, speaking, drawing, and modeling.

Student learning aspirations for realm A include:

  • Being broadly educated.
  • Valuing lifelong inquisitiveness.
  • Communicating graphically in a range of media.
  • Assessing evidence.
  • Comprehending people, place, and context.
  • Recognizing the disparate needs of client, community, and society.

Realm B: Building Practices, Technical Skills, and Knowledge. Graduates from NAAB-accredited programs must be able to comprehend the technical aspects of design, systems, and materials and be able to apply that comprehension to architectural solutions. In addition, the impact of such decisions on the environment must be well considered.

Student learning aspirations for realm B include:

  • Creating building designs with well-integrated systems.
  • Comprehending constructability.
  • Integrating the principles of environmental stewardship.
  • Conveying technical information accurately

 See pages 15-17 of NAAB's 2014 Conditions for details. 







Extra Credit


Last Updated on 8/23/23