Phase 1: Consultation

1.3 Lifecycles

These activities help students to see buildings as things that change over time and which are not passive but comparable to living things in many ways. They discover that the lifelong impact of a building is largely influenced by decisions made at the design stage. They can tour your community to see lifecycles in action and consider how management and usage also affect a lifecycle.

  • Use Lifecycle stages as a short activity to introduce the concept.
    This works as an individual, small group or whole-class activity.
    Students can organise the information in lists, a diagram or visually on the desk.

Answers: Lifecycle stages

Note that these are the three main stages in the life of a building, but each one can be broken down into a number of smaller phases, many of which are represented by the items in the list. Hence when playing the main interactive game, students will explore three phases within the first stage of the building’s lifecycle (consultation, design and build) and some aspects of its main lifecycle stage (operation).

Acquisition:consultation; planning and design; land purchase; choice of materials; source of materials; build.

Operation:use by occupants; maintenance; energy use; operating costs.

De-commissioning:demolition; materials disposal or recycling; re-use of the site.

Plan a more sustainable construction project


  • Introduce the scenario. Get students to agree a development.

Main activity

  • In groups, students list the construction and operational activities, working from what they remember from Lifecycle stages.
  • Groups identify key actions that could improve sustainability at each stage.
  • Groups present back their ideas.


  • Gather ideas from each group into a list on the board.
  • Discuss students’ main insights as to the value and importance of consultations.


Easier/Level 1: Draw the lifecycle stages on the board. Start by listing activities under each one as a whole class, before students split into groups. Give groups a blank table to complete, with a column for each stage.

Harder: Use a role-play scenario. Act the role of the client yourself and challenge students’ ideas. Emphasise the importance of future implications of design and construction decisions.


This can be delivered as a class or small group discussion, or as a role-play. You can use a specific development as a focus, or let groups choose their own and then gather ideas to glean a more general understanding of the concepts.

Answers: Plan a more sustainable construction project

Examples of more sustainable decisions include:

use of a brownfield site; low-energy design; use of more sustainable materials (e.g. low energy input, locally sourced, sustainable supply); re-use of an existing building; energy-efficient building systems (lights, air conditioning); on-site generation

use of ‘green’ electricity’; correct maintenance of equipment; appropriate settings for air conditioning, temperature etc; switching lights off; recycling of waste; shared/public transport to and from work

recycling and re-use of materials and equipment; re-use of building for another purpose.

  • Use Buildings in your community as a practical exercise. This helps students to engage with their community and observe it as a member of the construction industry. Get groups to present their observations using the different approaches listed. Create a display that interprets your local built environment.

Answers: Buildings in your community

The very first and last stages, which students would not see on their tour, are the planning and design of each building and the eventual re-use of its materials in other projects.




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