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Eco-architecture is a booming field in China, and there is a growing demand for education and training in this relatively new field. In response, the Liaoning Urban Construction School (LUCS) used funding from the World Bank-supported Liaoning and Shandong Technical and Vocational Education and Training Project to reform curriculum, teaching methods and school management in architectural education, with a focus on school-industry cooperation. All these reforms were reflected in the construction of an “eco-laboratory”.
The eco-lab is a nationally recognized, award winning green building and has expanded the available training space on LUCS’ campus. Beyond that, the construction process, which lasted slightly over two years, provided an exemplary case study of school-industry collaboration in practice.
To foster the school-industry collaboration, a committee on eco-architecture was formed with academic experts and leading technical practitioners from the industry. The committee has incorporated several additions to the curriculum: Building Information Management (BIM) technology, architectural industrialization, adoption of green building materials, structures of an energy efficient building, and construction techniques.
The 5,100 square meter eco-lab is a hi-tech educational space equipped with state-of-the-art architectural features, such as solar lighting and heating, ground-source heat pumps, energy-saving technologies, water recycling. The building also uses an advanced network building management system that allows for its efficient management. It features a local area network system accessible via both wired and wireless connections, card control and management, background music and LED screens exhibiting operational parameters, and remote connection and internet log on capabilities.
More importantly, construction of the eco-lab contributed significantly to LUCS’ teaching and learning activities. Through a large variety of exhibitions and lab sessions, students got to observe and gain hands-on experience. The eco-lab provides digital equipment to enhance students’ learning experience, helping them visualize and apply concepts.
In addition, the school set up a new research institute that focuses on the development of new, green and energy efficient building materials, technologies and processes.
The reforms started by LUCs will hopefully be picked up by more schools in China, as we become a more environmentally conscious society.