Local architectural practice, Stephen George + Partners LLP (SGP) has launched a free interactive toolkit to introduce primary school children to the importance of building sustainably. Focusing on building materials and how much carbon is released during their manufacture, the engaging and interactive Better Buildings website is free to use and aims to get children at Key Stage 2 thinking about sustainability and designing low carbon buildings.
Project lead Simon Matthews, a member of the Social Responsibility group at SGP takes up the story: “We decided to create a set of learning aids that teachers can use with children of about 10 or 11 years old, to help them discover more about building materials and their impact on the environment, in a fun and accessible way. Buildings have a significant impact on the environment – 11% of global carbon emissions come from the construction of buildings and the materials used. The Better Buildings programme aligns perfectly with our company values – it is imperative for us to raise awareness and put our knowledge out there for everyone to share.”
Steve Malkin, founder of sustainability champions Planet Mark, adds: “”As an engineer, I would have loved a lesson in imagining and designing buildings that are great for the planet and for people. I have seen first-hand the wonderful ideas school children can bring to creating better buildings and, this exciting classroom resource gives them the ideas to fuel their imagination.”
The Better Buildings resource is web based and includes investigating traditional and alternative materials used around the world, followed by a module for children to design their own low carbon building. Throughout the site, children are encouraged to explore the subjects through activities and open discussions, discovering fascinating facts and using an interactive carbon indicator to assess each material. Cartoon avatars of SGP staff help to explain common terms used throughout
Simon continues: “Sustainability is everyone’s issue and everyone needs to contribute what they can. We developed the Better Building website specifically for primary school children because they are the architects of the future – and a generation that will need to face the problems we have left. We know the interest in sustainability and climate change is there from our existing schools’ sustainability campaign, SGP + You, so the earlier we can engage the better.
“SGP’s Better Buildings website celebrates the positives and what people can do, reaffirming the message that people do have the ability to make changes that will have a positive impact. We hope that this resource will help teachers explain sustainability in building materials to older primary school children and ignite their enthusiasm for the subject.”
The website, an open-source asset, is now available, free to all teachers. https://betterbuildings.stephengeorge.co.uk/