Professional course Sustainability and Energy Simulations

Entry year
Course code
Professional/Short Course
Architecture and the Built Environment
Half-day sessions scheduled over a period of 11 weeks
Course Director
Patrick O'Flynn

Page last updated 22 October 2021


This module aims to teach computer-based skills that help in the application of sustainable strategies to real world designs. A range of sustainable issues will be discussed and where in these it would be appropriate to use software based analytical tools to help improve the design. 3D modelling software will be used to quantify the geometry of a physical space and environmental energy simulation software (IES) will be used to compare the difference between alternative design options. Students will also discuss the limits of computer-based analysis and when such analysis would be less helpful.

Upon completion students will have acquired the skills to undertake complex analysis of the environmental performance of building fabric allowing them to develop strategies at the conceptual design stage for the delivery of high performing buildings.

This computer analysis can be used to provide comparative performance estimates to justify investment in the materials and services required to deliver low impact buildings. Developing the financial feasibility and considering risks in post occupancy performance are examined further in the module Energy Management and Performance Evaluation.

Entry requirements

Students beginning this module are expected to have a working knowledge of building physics and services and an understanding of concepts such as heat balance, U-value, thermal mass, ventilation, condensation, solar gains, heating and cooling technologies and building structures.

Those who passed module UBLMSB-30-1 Building Physics and Services are deemed adequate.

Students will also need to be numerically competent and have a basic level of computer literacy to allow them explore new software programmes.

If you are a non-UK student you will need to show your valid passport on entry to the UK. Please check your eligibility to visit and study in the UK here. If you are a non-Irish EU national currently resident in Ireland please contact us for further advice.

If English is not your country's first language, you will be required to provide evidence to show you meet the UK Border Agency and the University's minimum English Language requirements.

Careers / Further study

Students who complete the module should have acquired the competencies to become an accredited Low Carbon Energy Assessor (non-Domestic EPC)through CIBSE.

This module may be counted as NFQ Level 5 accredited learning towards related engineering degrees and counts as academic credit towards the following UWE degree programmes:



This module is designed to give students an opportunity to develop critical analysis skills in the design of high performing building services. The principles of low carbon building services are well understood, the driving factor for their importance and adoption being the environmental consequences of climate change and the commitment governments have made to reducing carbon emissions in the coming years. Although the principles of energy efficient sustainable design are well understood many barriers remain to putting them into practice and it is appropriate that these are studied at level 3 where students can use critical thinking to identify issues and develop appropriate problem-solving frameworks.

Setting energy efficiency and low carbon performance as important design constraints for buildings and has a number of consequences for the role of building services engineer.

Firstly, building services engineers get involved more intensively, early in the design process as issues such as building orientation, choices of building fabric and use of glazing become important decisions that affect the low carbon capabilities of the services that are selected. In this module students will learn how to use dynamic simulation software to optimise the performance of building fabric. This would typically be done with the architect at the conceptual stage of the design when the building's form is in development.

Secondly, often low carbon services involve new technologies and new services strategies, which can be perceived as being a higher risk to budgets, to space requirement, to performance, to constructability, to maintainability and to usability. For this reason, critical thinking is required when establishing the energy strategy for the services design, to ensure that the approach is appropriate to the building and that these risks are managed and clearly communicated to the building owner. In this module, students will learn how to critically compare different low carbon services strategies and to use qualitative and quantitative analysis to develop appropriate decision-making frameworks. 

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  1. Assess the thermal response of buildings under dynamic conditions and estimate the impact on thermal comfort of potential design alternatives. (Assessment A,B)
  2. Perform simulations of building services performance and fluid flows. (Assessment B)
  3. Assess a buildings energy and carbon footprint using methods approved for regulation compliance. (Assessment B)
  4. Identify the risks and opportunities associated with using rating systems designed to quantify sustainability. (Assessment A)
  5. Define the computational tasks associated with quantifying sustainable use of energy, water, materials, light and sound. (Assessment A)

Learning and Teaching

Expected level of initial understanding - Students will be expected to already have a technical understanding of the physics and services associated with the environmental engineering of buildings. Week 1 of the module will include an outline of the expected understanding, allowing students to prepare a revision plan to bring them up to speed for the rest of the module. Skills learnt concurrently in other modules on sizing building services will also be used in the module.

Case Studies - At the beginning of the module, students will be assigned a case study site/building, which will be the focus of their study and coursework assessment.

Lectures - Weekly lectures will be used as the main method to present, discuss and critically evaluate the topics associated with the module syllabus. At every opportunity the students will be asked to reflect on how the theory relates to their case studies, preparing a study plan for their activities between classes. At the end of every lecture a student should have a clear sense of purpose of the study that is ahead of them.

Computer based tutorials - Weekly tutorials with software experts, developing skills in energy simulations and sustainability assessment, which will be needed to complete the assessment.

Study time

For most students to get an average mark the following hours are recommended: approximately 10 hours of study for each of the taught sessions relating to this module, a total of 120 hours. This excludes time undertaking assessment, which is an estimated additional 30 hours. On a weekly basis this means Preparation (1h), contact time (3h), Directed study (3h), Self-directed (3h).


Students will be required to complete the following assessment as part of the module and on successful completion will achieve 15 undergraduate credits in Strategic Design and Energy Simulations.

The assesment is made up of the following:

  • Analysis and Modelling Portfolio (50%)
  • Two-hour exam (50%)


Professional accreditation

Students who complete the module should have acquired the competencies to become an accredited Low Carbon Energy Assessor (non-Domestic EPC) through CIBSE.

Study facilities

UWE Bristol has invested significantly in online and campus resources to support your study. We use the 'Blackboard Collaborate Ultra' online platform to deliver an integrated learning experience to you and you also have access to a vast number of professional and academic journals and databases online through the UWE Bristol library.

Find out more about the facilities and resources UWE has to offer.

Prices and dates

Supplementary fee information

This course runs once a year. The next module run is programmed in 2022 and likely to follow the same delivery pattern.

As an indication, the cost of this course was previously £1156 (£1625 for International participants) so there might be a small increase for 2022.

Exact course dates, updated fees and online booking forms will be published here in the upcoming weeks. Please complete our Enquire Now form below to be notified once dates are available.

How to apply

How to apply

As this module carries university accreditation, please note that once you have submitted your booking form, you will be required to provide the following supporting information for the Programme Leader to be able to review and formally accept your application as required by the university:

  • An up-to-date copy of your Curriculum Vitae (including contact details of a work or academic reference)
  • A brief personal statement to support your application
  • A copy of your highest qualification certificate and transcript of modules studied
  • For UK student, a copy of your photographic proof of ID (i.e. driver's licence/passport).
  • For non-UK students, a copy of your current passport. Please note you may need a Visitor Visa to come to the UK to study less than 6 months. Visit UWE's Visas webpage for more infrmation.
TBC 2021-2022 Enquire Now

For further information

  • Email: For any questions in relation to the course, i.e. content, suitability, assessments, etc. please contact the Programme Leader (Patrick.O' For all queries regarding administration aspects of registration, i.e. dates, fees, etc. please contact us using the online enquiry form link or telephone number below.
  • Telephone: +44 (0)117 32 86927