Phase 4: Operation

Sustainable use

This activity explores how a constructor can help a facilities manager to help control energy costs and carbon emissions in a new building by encouraging energy-saving habits.

Sustainable use


  • Read the first part of Using energy and list the systems that use energy in a building.

Main activity

  • Split students into small groups.
  • Students consider how a building might misused from an energy perspective (students could use your school, college or home as a context). Encourage students to consider areas such as lack of maintenance/servicing.
  • Get groups to establish why people might waste energy.


  • Link this to carbon footprints and the whole-life energy costs of a building.
  • Elicit that buildings have a design efficiency, but that poor management or energy-wasting habits can undermine this.
  • Establish that documentation, as much as design and construction, can help to limit a building’s whole-life carbon emissions and running costs.


Easier/Level 1:
Stick with the examples in the discussion.

Hide the examples given in the discussion.


Use the Carbon Trust link to help more able students find more ways to reduce emissions:

Answers: Using energy

Thermostat: This is too high and should be lowered; this wastes energy for heating.

Rear doors: these will let heat out of the building, making the heating system work extra hard.

Heating system maintenance: A lack of maintenance will lower performance, using excess energy to do the same work. It may also make the systems less safe.

Lights left on: These will waste electricity.

Open windows: These let heat out of the building. Better to lower the thermostat and maintain a lower temperature with the windows closed.

Hot taps: These waste energy and make the boiler work harder than necessary.




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