Construction online course

Top Ten online Courses for Sustainable Built Environment Professionals and Students

Online learning has proved to be an excellent way of enhancing skills and knowledge for millions across the globe. Online or distance learning is a convenient option for people who can’t attend classes or pursue degree classes due to any reason. Its demand showed a significant increase since the last decade. More and more universities are launching their distance learning programs through their websites or third party websites. Ubiquitous internet facilities have made it possible otherwise where cyberinfrastructure isn’t good people are struggling to take advantage of online learning.

Furthermore, the methods and techniques of online teaching are also evolving rapidly. It’s a win-win situation for all stakeholders as teachers and learners can generate and use content at their ease respectively. It saves a lot of man-hours wasted in repeating the same lectures for every new session. Now it is reduced to the one-time effort, ultimately saving a lot of time and money. Learners can track their progress, adjust their productivity, and content is available for them at any given time making it an ideal learning option.

There are many learning platforms such as Edx, Udemy, Lynda, Udacity, Future Learn, and Coursera. These websites offer courses in almost every field. Top tier universities have placed their courses, specialization, and even Master’s programs through these platforms. This shows the potential and recognition of that potential by the world’s best universities. These platforms have removed the learning barriers for all. A medical student can learn about history or music in parallel which might not be possible through conventional learning.

The business opportunities are immense for teachers as they can reach out to millions and generate handsome revenue which isn’t possible in a regular classroom environment. According to a study the online learning market is expected to grow 350$ Billion by 2035. COVID-19 pandemic proved the significance of online learning. It was a bit tough for students to adjust as the change was quite abrupt. However, people are getting used to it.

Circumventing the debate on the pros and cons of online learning. I would like to enlist the top 10 courses which can be beneficial for students and professionals of architecture and civil engineering domain. These courses have all the necessary modules to gain specialized knowledge in the sustainable built environment. The sustainable built environment is complex and there is no single recipe to become a good professional rather it’s a mix of related fields. All these courses are paid. However, you can take these courses for free through the financial assistance program.

Course Name: Energy Demand in Buildings
University: TU Delft
Duration 4 Weeks (4–6 hours per week)

Learning outcomes and Benefits

When it comes to buildings, energy is among the important aspects that come to mind. Building energy is an important element in the design and operation of buildings. The design of a building mainly influences the energy demands for heating and cooling. This course will enable the learners to design low energy buildings and reduce energy demand through active and passive techniques. Moreover, you will learn the estimation of energy loads, annual energy costs, and savings. This course comprehensively discusses that we can effectively incorporate the passive approaches to reduce energy demands and optimize our HVAC and indoor thermal comfort.

Course Name: Managing Building Adaptation: A Sustainable Approach
University: TU Delft
Duration 6 Weeks (4–6 hours per week)

Learning outcomes and Benefits

It is the need of the hour to have sustainable buildings because of various reasons in which important one is environmental issues. This course discussed the challenging management task of redeveloping buildings for future use. we can construct new buildings that are sustainable but what about the existing building stock? In this course, you will learn to make existing building stock sustainable through various innovative and conventional techniques. This course is not lengthy but quite precise and focused on the management of the buildings to keep the operational phase of the building stock sustainable. If you are interested to learn techniques, methods, strategies to make your buildings sustainable this is the best course you can find.

Course Name: Nature-Based Metropolitan Solutions
University: Delft University & Wageningen University
Duration 6 Weeks (4–6 hours per week)

Learning outcomes and Benefits

We all know that urban centers are important aspects of our lives and economies. Our cities need to be built in a way to support sustainable and healthy living for its inhabitants. However, it is important to know that there are three main ingredients of Nature-Based solutions for the urban environment, and there three components are major learning outcomes of this course. The three main areas are as follows.

  • Service design
  • Spatial design
  • Business case

Furthermore, this course develops critical perspectives on your own location and environment and enable you to make better decisions. This course will give you an understanding of the design, implementation, and evaluation of nature-based solutions for urban environments and the ecological coherence of sustainable cities.

Course Name: Sustainable Building Design
University: MIT
Duration 13 Weeks (8–10 hours per week)


Learning outcomes and Benefits

The design is important in everything and the same goes for the building’s design. To achieve sustainable construction, one must design it as per the standards. This course is offered by the number 1 university in the world Known as MIT. This is a comprehensive course that will teach you all the components of sustainable building design, ranging from buildings orientation to energy simulations. You will work on the real project during the period of course. Furthermore, this course offers the amalgamation of various strategies in energy efficiency, resource planning, daylighting, orientation, and the latest technologies in the built environment. The practical exercises in each module are the distinctive feature of this course, which will enhance your practical design skills as well.

Course Name: Sustainable Urban Development
University: Delft University & Wageningen University
Duration 7 Weeks (4–6 hours per week)


Learning outcomes and Benefits

Urban systems are complex and don’t work in isolation. They are inextricably linked to each other. Considering that it is essential to make our urban centers sustainable. However, achieving urban sustainability isn’t a simple task. It requires a complete understanding of urban systems, strategies involved, and design practices associated with them. Furthermore, this course will provide you real-time examples of successful urban sustainability practices that can enhance your understanding. During this course, you will discover possible solutions for your city’s challenges and what it takes to implement these solutions? How to redefine urban sustainability and strategies to achieve them are the major outcomes of this course.

Course Name: Eco-design for Cities and Suburbs
University: University of British Columbia
Duration 6 Weeks (4–5 hours per week)


Learning outcomes and Benefits

The health and wellbeing of the urban population is highly affected by the design of the cities. In order to make them truly sustainable, the focus of the design should be beyond buildings. One of the major outcomes of this course is designing urban and suburban regulations to make cities more livable and environmentally compatible. Energy efficiency, global mobility issues, urban development, health and wellbeing of the occupants, and implementation of environment-friendly strategies are the major topic areas of this course. This course will completely redefine your perspective of urban design,

Course Name: Circular Economy for a Sustainable Built Environment
University: TU Delft
Duration 6 Weeks (3–5 hours per week)

Learning outcomes and Benefits

The circular economy is a new concept and gaining popularity. The role of circular economy concepts is almost in every field. However, it’s role in the sustainable built environment is immense as the construction sector is dependent on materials. The construction sector is among the ones that produce a large amount of waste and for that circular economy is the best solution. That is why this course is important for all professionals related to the built environment. This course will make you familiar with circularity as a systemic, interdisciplinary approach, applications in the construction industry, and cities.

This course will provide you detailed knowledge on Life Cycle Analysis and its role in evaluating the performance matrices of the circular economy. Furthermore, this course will enrich the learning experience by explaining design principles, life-cycle phases of building products, and key aspects such as stakeholders, incentives, and business models. This course will deep dive into the construction process and materials to understand the ways and processes by which waste can be reduced in all materials streams. The circular economy model offers guidelines and principles for promoting more sustainable building construction and reducing the impact on our environment. This course will help you to design green buildings, make better material choices, and promote circular economy certify products.

Course Name: Renewable Energy and Green Building Entrepreneurship
University: DUKE University
Duration 17 hours to complete

Learning outcomes and Benefits

Renewable energy is one of the most important aspects of green buildings entrepreneurship, and the economy. After completing this course students will be able to understand business opportunities, challenges, and potential solutions in the renewable energy and green building sectors. Renewable energy is a trillion-dollar industry and the future of energy that is why it is important to develop technical and business skills in this domain. During this course, you will be able to develop a business plan and experts will share their opinion about your project. This course is focused on prospects of technology innovation and the business side of renewable energy making it equally good for business and engineering students.

Course Name: Sustainable Cities
University: SDG Academy
Duration 10 Weeks (4-5 Hours Daily)

Learning outcomes and Benefits

Sustainability is a buzz word these days and with the rising awareness regarding climate change, its need is growing more and more. To achieve sustainable cities, it is essential to understand the basic knowledge of sustainable development goals and their interaction with the urban environments. This course focuses on SDG 11 which deals specifically with urban development. This course will enable learners to understand complex urban systems. One of the interesting aspects of this course is the variety of esteemed professionals ranging from India to the USA. It has many case studies that will provide real examples of projects across the globe which will enrich the learning experience. It’s a relatively long course but learners will be able to directly learn from Professor Jeffery Sachs, the director of United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, USA.

Course Name: BIM Fundamentals for Engineers
University: National Taiwan University
Duration Approx. 17 hours to complete

Learning outcomes and Benefits

This course is basic for all engineers working in Architectural, Civil, and Mechanical engineering domain. The purpose of this course is to enable students and professionals to work with BIM tools. It is an entry-level course that provides an understanding of BIM, its applications, and how to work with the most used BIM tools for example Autodesk Revit. This course is designed and taught by the esteemed professors of the National University of Taiwan. It is vital to learn BIM tools because of its wide applications in industry as every design process, energy simulations, HVAC design, and other tasks are performed through BIM application. This course will lay the foundation for an excellent career to become a BIM manager or modeler.


Author: Muhammad Shoaib

More of his articles here.

Muhammad Shoaib is Sustainability and Project Management Consultant. He is also a Collaborative Facilitator of ILFI in Pakistan and ex-UN-SDSN Pathway Fellow. He holds LEED AP, WELL Faculty, and Building performance Analyst Credentials. He can be contacted @ Linkedin or email: [email protected]