Cover pages of the book. The eBook is available at

Research Title:

The Implementation of Animation (computer software) in Teaching Sustainable Architecture (Education for Sustainability) with specific reference to the sun.  


The Focus:

The focus of the study is with secondary school students and the use of Sketch-up (computer-aided software) exploring shadows and shading and the choice of sustainable building materials and the selection of sustainable components.


This book is about teaching Sustainable Architecture to Primary School and Secondary School students.

It contains research information on Animation tools (Sketch Up Computer Aided Design Tools) as well as additional information shared by the author. The author is an experienced Design and Visual Communication teacher with over 28 years of teaching experience. In this book, he shares his research results with Secondary School students. He includes hints, tips and other relevant information, which will benefit teachers and students in the sustainability design processes. Primary school, intermediate and secondary school teachers and students will benefit from this book. For Primary and Intermediate School students and teachers the book goes beyond sustainability concepts like worm farms, composting, and vegetable gardens. The tools discussed here are Sketch Up computer-aided design tools (digital sketching). The software is free to download and very user-friendly (Sketch Up Make). A Professional version is available at an annual registration fee. Students as young as 8 to 10 years of age will be able to master the programme. It is a very user-friendly programme and students will design within minutes after watching the first SketchUp tutorial. Many video tutorials are available on YouTube and at

Why should you read this book?

To learn how the animation tools in Sketch Up could improve and open up some new ideas on sustainable architectural design for younger and older children. It will prompt readers to think about different approaches and challenge in-depth investigation of the architectural and sustainable design process. It specifically touches on the sun, passive solar concepts, passive ventilation concepts and the choice of building materials. The book also explains how deciduous trees (shedding leaves during winter) could be used to screen and allow the sun into the buildings. It means that the amount of sunlight (energy) could be regulated by implementing different strategies, and design features.

Who should you read this book?

Teachers (primary & secondary), educators, and senior students. Design and Visual Design students. Architecture students. Anyone interested in Sketch-up software for education for sustainability.

Below, a typical sustainable building in Spain is used to explain the principles involved in sustainable architecture. It highlights the use of the sun in passive solar design. The book will illustrates these principles in animated form using Google Sketch-up. 


Above image: City of Arts and Sciences - Spain. The building is an entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex in the city of ValenciaSpain. It is the most important modern tourist destination in the city of Valencia. Typical hi-tech building focusing on sustainable features and functions like passive solar design. For example, the heat-sink (concrete roof, floors and walls) absorbs heat from the sun, and releases the heat slowly during the day. Heating the building during winter - using passive solar design - will save energy. The shape and form of the building also includes 'symbolism' which acts as a pointer and icon for future developments and vision for the specific region or country.     

 Santiago Calatrava - (1998) - City of Arts and Sciences (Valencia, Spain)



In this study, the researcher has endeavored to investigate and to explore how animation (simulation) could be used effectively to teach Sustainable Architecture in Secondary School (NCEA level 2, New Zealand). The students’ age ranged from between 16 – 17 years of age in this study. The three-dimensional environment (testing shadows and shading) and the final result (sustainable restaurant) were used to measure, to critique, to evaluate and to analyse the design decisions made by students when designing their sustainable restaurant. The “thinking processes“ (critical thinking) which eventually influenced design decisions, before and after a unit of work on animation was delivered to students in the Graphics class (Design and Visual Communication), were investigated. This research analysed the data collected during this study; the results were assessed and disseminated, and some recommendations are made on how to use this technique or how to improve student’s design decisions techniques. The focus was specifically on sunlight and the impact thereof on the restaurant during specific times during the day, which included specific seasons (summer and winter). The two different seasons, for example, summer and winter, and the impact of the sun on the building were explored and studied during this research project. The result of the study showed an increase in understanding on how the sun impacts the building and the effect it has on the building when using simulation software. It was also clear that simulation developed the in-depth thinking processes of students regarding Education for Sustainability (EfS) and Environmental Education for Sustainability (EEFS). There was a significant change in the perception of sustainability before and after the unit on animation was delivered. The software, Google Sketch-up (computer aided design program) used in this study, was very successful in obtaining answers to the questions on the effect of animation on Education for Sustainability in general. Students were fully engaged and were able to change and manipulate several variables like the position of deciduous trees, the position of louvers, the size of windows, Trombe walls, choice of building materials, and more. From this study, it became apparent that the software used contributed significantly to enhancing teaching, specifically “Education for Sustainability” (EfS). An increase in the interpretation and understanding of different areas regarding the choice of sustainable materials, sustainable systems, sustainable landscaping, and the impact of the sun on the building were achieved. The research did support the two research questions:   

1.    Did the unit of work on simulation and animation develop the critical thinking skills of students?

2.    Did the unit of work improved the student’s abilities to make informed decisions regarding sustainability and did they make successful modifications to their initial design work to enhance the sustainability features and functions?

The research also supported the common thread of EfS and EEFS namely: relevance of EfS; holistic approach; holistic curriculum approach, the role of values; issue-based learning; environmental action; critical education; and the future dimension in teaching Education for Sustainability as addressed by Tilbury (1995). In this study, the animation was evaluated and assessed against the notion and threads of EfS and EEFS, and the research refers to these threads throughout this study. The unit of work on animation improved the skills of students and assisted them to make informed decisions. They were able to modify their initial design successfully into a viable, sustainable restaurant displaying significant improvement of sustainability and improving their design skills during the process. 





Google Sketch-up 



Sustainable Architecture

Education for Sustainability (EfS)

Environmental Education for Sustainability (EEFS)

Shadows and Shading

Sun and Sustainability

Position of the Sun

Harvesting the Energy of the Sun

Deciduous Landscaping

Size and Position of Windows

Building Materials and the Sun




Research Title: 4

The Focus: 4

Synopsis: 4

A short overview of the shadow tools in SketchUp: 6



Why should you read this book?. 11

Who should you read this book?. 11

Model illustrating sustainable features and functions: 12

Contents. 14

TITLE: Model Sustainable Architecture: Harvesting sun energy, wind energy and rainwater.



The Sketch-Up Tools illustrating shadows and shading options: 20

The future, our resources and the United Nations (UNESCO) Millennium Goals: 22

Number 7 of the millennium goals of UNESCO is: 22


Abstract: 24

Keywords/Phrases and Key Concepts. 27

(a)      Background: 28

(b) Questionnaires and interviews: a short overview.. 30

(c) Acknowledgements: 30

Chapter 1: Introduction. 32

1.1 Introduction to animation and sustainable architecture. 32

1.2     Animation and simulation in Architectural Design: ‘The ripple effect’ 33

1.3     Google Sketch-up. 34

A typical Daylight Analysis looks like this: 35

1.4     Overview of the five chapters in this study. 40

Chapter 2: Literature Review.. 42

2.1     Introduction. 42

2.2     Environmental Education for Sustainability and critical thinking skills. 42

2.3 Environmental Education for Sustainability: Holistic approach. 45

2.3.1 Holistic curriculum approach. 45

2.3.2 Teaching values and sustainability. 46

2.3.3 Environmental Education for Sustainability (EEFS) and issue based learning. 47

2.3.4 Environmental Education for Sustainability and action for the Environment 48

2.3.5 Environmental Education for Sustainability requires critical education. 49

2.3.6 A futures dimension in EEFS. 50

2.3.7 Hearts, heads, and hands: ‘In’ the environment, ‘about’ the environment, and ‘for’ the environment 51

2.4     Sustainable Architecture. 52

2.5     Education for sustainability (EfS) 53

2.6     Animation and simulation in architectural design: A multi-disciplinary approach. 54

Chapter 3: Methodology. 56

3.1 Introduction. 56

3.2 Research questions. 56

3.3 Research Methodology. 56

3.3.1 Questionnaires. 57

3.3.2 Interviews. 58

3.4 Research design. 59

3.4.1 Sampling strategies. 59

3.4.2 Selection of participants. 60

3.5 Data gathering techniques. 61

Interviews: 62

3.6 Data analysis procedures. 65

3.7 Ethical concerns. 67

3.8 Validity and reliability. 67

3.9 Summary. 69

Chapter 4: Results. 70

4.1 Introduction. 70

4.2 Questionnaires: Analysis of the charts and identifying trends. 71

4.3 Analysis of the Interviews. 72

4.4 Observation and documentation. 79

4.4.1 Critical questions. 80

4.4.2 Critiquing. 81

4.4.3 ‘Stakeholders’ (peers) 82

4.4.4 Science, Mathematics, Accounting and other subject areas. 82

4.4.5 Values. 84

4.4.6 Environmental issues. 85

4.4.7 Action for the environment 85

4.4.8 Critical education. 86

4.4.9 Future dimension. 87

4.4.10 In, about, and for the environment 88

4.4.11 Changing attitudes. 89

4.5 Summary. 90

Chapter 5: Discussion and conclusions. 91

5.1 Overview.. 91

5.2 Conclusions and implications. 95

This study investigated the following two questions: 95

Action research: The practitioner and the respondents. 104

5.3 Implications of this study for secondary school students are: 105

5.4 Recommendations to secondary school teachers: Visual Design and Communication. 107

References. 108

Appendix 1: Questionnaires. 112


QUESTIONS: After the animation. 120

Appendix 2: Interviews. 128

Interview questions: Before and after animation: 128



Appendix 3: Charts. 132

Appendix 4: Snapshots of interviewee work. 137

Design work of Interviewee 1. 138

Design work of interviewee 4. 140

Figures. 141


See Five House Publishing for more books by the author. 143

Figure 2-Google SketchUp computer aided software showing a typical sectional view through a building. See the shadows and shading on the inside of this building. This tool is very useful to make design decisions regarding solar influences on a building. A daylight analysis can be done by using the shadow tools. By moving the slider (toolbar) the position of the sun changes showing the shadows and shading on the interior and the exterior of the building. Credit:

Figure 5 -Deciduous trees are shown in Google Sketch-up (shadows and shading). Credit:


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