Criteria for Excellence in Building Science Curricula

Task Group:  Following the 2012 Annual Meeting of the University Consortium, a task group was formed to develop the criteria for excellence in building science education curricula.  Current leaders of the task group include:

  • Pat Huelman (Chairman) – University of Minnesota
  • John Straube (Co-chairman) – University of Waterloo

Development of Criteria Metric:  Criteria for excellence in building science education curricula and associated content are being developed to define, and set the expectations for, building science education. The criteria will provide a metric against which universities can assess building science curricula, key courses, teaching methodologies, and learning outcomes.  The criteria will help guide the development of such teaching materials. The metric would also support the work of accrediting organizations and licensing and certification programs.  Further, it will support the annual award for “excellence in building science education” and the student competition programs for quality, high performance buildings.  

“Building science” is broadly defined, is broadly defined, for the purposes of the Task Group, to include the building science (physics) and technologies, and advanced design and construction management practices required to routinely plan, design, analyze and build quality, high performance buildings that durable, safe, healthy, comfortable and very energy efficient.  The Task Group also adopts a requirement for a “quality, high performance home that is very energy efficient” as meeting or exceeding the requirements of the DOE Challenge Home.  Further, the Task Group recognizes that the student’s business model requires proficiency in the design and construction of both residential and commercial buildings, and that housing ranges from small, single family homes to large, multifamily structures which could include retail and office space. 

The criteria will address the following areas: 

  • building science curricula;
  • key courses and teaching methodologies, and
  • requirements for acquired knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA’s).

The initial focus of the criteria is university level courses.  A matrix of curricula is being developed against different disciplines supporting the design/construction industry:

  • Engineering (e.g., Mechanical, Civil, Architectural);
  • Architecture (skilled in building performance);
  • Construction Management; and
  • Other (Material Science, Building Physics (EU).

The Criteria might include:

  • Education that supports the expansion of a certified, professional workforce that routinely designs and builds quality, high performance homes that are healthy, safe, durable, comfortable, and energy efficient.
  • Curriculum that addresses both specialized courses in building science and building performance along with standard courses which integrate advances in building science and quality management, e.g., construction management, construction documentation, etc.
  • Technical basis for the curriculum is traceable to currently accepted, peer-reviewed research.
  • Possible recommended curricula could include:
    • Building science for building enclosures
      • Optimization across various building performance parameters, including trade-offs for fire, moisture, constructability, strength, cost, etc.
      • Hygrothermal analysis for building enclosures
      • Characterization and performance of building materials, components, and assemblies
    • HVAC system performance
      • Whole building mechanical system analysis (including loads, flows, and pressures)
      • Advanced ventilation
      • Fundamentals of indoor environmental quality, including pollutant sources
      • Heating and cooling load analysis (ASRHAE, ACCA, etc.)
      • Installed performance of equipment and systems (dehumidification performance, part load efficiency, diagnostics and sensors, etc.)
    • Construction Management
      • Critical path analysis and process control
      • Advanced quality management principles (see ToolBase, etc.)
      • Commissioning
    • Design/Construction Documentation (advanced detailing, quality scopes of work, etc.)
    • Design Process (Integrated Design Process, Codes & Beyond Codes, etc.)
    • Building Performance Analysis and Documentation
      • Diagnostics
      • Commissioning
    • Systems Engineering
    • Sustainability


Requirements for Acquired Skills (e.g., KSA’s)/ Learning Outcomes – see Criteria Outline (PDF)



Criteria Task Group

Task Group Working Files

  • KSAs for Key Disciplines
    • KSAs/Core Competencies
    • Matrices - Disciplines vs. Key Subject Areas
  • Teaching Resources
  • Definition of Building Science
  • DOE Matrix Review

Task Group Past Meetings

Task Group Members

Charter Members

A list of current "Members", "Corresponding Members", and "Interested Parties" will be published shortly.

Criteria Task Group Meetings -

Future Planned Meetings

Meetings are being planned for 2014 and will be announced in the future. These include working virtual meetings (webinars) and working meetings adjunct to related events. The following meetings have been scheduled:

  • Feb. 3 – Las Vegas, NV (adjunct to the NAHB IBS) - Update at the annual meeting of the National Consortium of Housing Research Centers. 
  • April 6 – Toronto, ON – ASTM/NIBS/Joint Committee Building Science Education Workshop

Recent/Past Meetings

The Criteria Task Group has held a number of updates and working meetings during 2013. These included:

  • Dec. 2 – Clearwater Beach, FL – Building Science Education Update – and further side meetings seeking recommendations on teaching resources and identification of university building science programs. *
  • Nov. 21 – Joint conference call meeting with BETEC Education Committee – towards building a database of teaching resources.
  • Oct. 28 – Washington, D.C. – update for the DOE Building America Team, reviewed new matrix addressing job descriptions, proficiency levels, and core competencies.
  • Sept. 24 – Phoenix, AZ – provided update as part of the DOE Task Force on Building Science Education; reviewed terminology, core competencies.*
  • Aug. 4 – Westford, MA – Initial meeting of Task Group addressing near term priorities. Reviewed definitions of “building science” and current university programs.
  • May 28 – Conference call meeting on building science enclosure teaching resources;

* Summaries and copies of handouts and presentations, which can be downloaded, are on the Working Files” page sidebar.