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“As a contractor, the experience and distilled knowledge of this class is indispensable. I will apply all that I have learned here.”​

—Attendee of the 4-part GNDH course:
    Laying the Groundwork for Sustainable Housing

Our courses are intended for current or aspiring tradespeople; designed for novices, apprentices, and professionals who are interested in stronger, smarter and greener homebuilding.


Green New Deal Housing Curriculum is informed by systems thinking and socio-environmental context.

Coursework includes:

  • Building Science 

  • High Performance Residential Construction

  • Green Building Techniques and Technologies

See our Course Catalog and our workbook on How to Speak and Read Building.

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        A 4-Part Introduction to Green Building - Theory and Practice


Current levels of consumption of non-renewable resources cannot be maintained indefinitely. Pollutants associated with buildings are widespread, and most concentrated in the populations with the least resources to address the negative impacts. 

With this in mind, how might we transform design and construction to take this into account, and create homes that produce solutions instead of increasing problems? This course is intended to lay the groundwork for comprehensive and significant well-developed solutions.

Part 1: Houses, Health and Environmental Impact

The way we build matters. What and how we build directly impacts the people who construct the buildings, those who occupy buildings, and those who maintain and operate the buildings. It also impacts the collective health and welfare of the communities where we live and beyond. 


Houses are of particular importance, not least because many of us spend more time in our home than any other building. The societal, health-related, and environmental implications connected to housing point to a widespread need to change how we view and build housing.

Part 2: Building Science - what is it and why does it matter?

Building science draws upon physics, chemistry, engineering, architecture, and the life sciences. It is concerned with explaining and understanding the physical behavior of a building in response to the forces that act upon it.


Central to this field is the study of heat, air, and moisture; in particular, the response to and interactions between these elements outside and within the building enclosure.These responses and interactions impact building durability, energy use, occupant comfort and indoor air quality. An understanding of building science is essential to creating high-performance green buildings.

Part 3: Systems Thinking and Integrated Design

In design and construction, aspects of the whole are often considered and developed separately, without regard for the interdependent and interacting mechanisms between the separate parts of the whole. Systems Thinking begins with the fundamental premise that when done well, the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts; and when done poorly (or not considered), the whole can be far less than the sum of its parts.


Integrated Design is a tool used to guide a systems thinking approach. The process requires thinking across disciplines and a constant consideration of the interactive nature of people, materials, spaces, systems, and forces on a site and a building during design, construction and operation throughout the life of the building.

Part 4: When are we gonna talk about Green Building?

A simple definition: It’s healthy. It’s durable. It uses little to no energy from fossil fuels. And it’s accessible.


Taking these concepts, we will expand and synthesize them to define some fundamental approaches to creating the kind of homes we need to be building here and now. We will also look to case studies for examples of what might work and what presents challenges.

Intro to Blueprints

Construction documents, often called “blueprints,” contain the drawings and supporting information used to construct a building. Learning to read and understand blueprints is a lot like learning a new language. This class introduces the “language” of blueprints, with an emphasis on residential construction (houses). Course content includes the organization of a set of construction documents; recognizing and interpreting drawing types, symbols and abbreviations; and understanding scale and dimensions. Participants will also learn how blueprints are used for much more than just building.

Blueprints for Green Homes

A good set of construction drawings (aka blueprints) can contribute to the durability, beauty and performance of a building. It can also contribute to the ease, enjoyment and profit of the builder. Creating a good set of construction drawings takes knowledge, time, effort, care and practice. Reading, interpreting and utilizing a good set of construction drawings well takes knowledge, time, effort, care and practice. 

This class offers a deep look at the content and organization in residential construction documents created to optimize the green criteria of health, durability, low energy/fossil fuel consumption, and accessibility. Participants will compare a set of blueprints created for a zero net energy home with a set of blueprints more commonly found for a code-built home. Discussions will include the identification of details for water management, air sealing, ventilation, thermal control, and occupant comfort; and what to do when those details are problematic, insufficient, or missing entirely. Participants will also explore opportunities to suggest changes or additions to blueprints to offer enhancements that might deepen the “green” impact of a project.


(In development)

GNDH Resource Packet





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