Architecture (ARCH) 527

Architectural Design: Building Systems (Revision 1)

ARCH 527 Course Cover

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online.

For those students interested in pursuing a career as a registered architect, this course contributes to the RAIC Syllabus Diploma. Information about the RAIC Syllabus Diploma is available on the RAIC website.

Credits: 3 - Architecture

Prerequisite: Enrollment in the Graduate Diploma in Architecture program, or referral from the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) for individuals with a professional degree in architecture from a university outside Canada.

Centre: RAIC Centre for Architecture

Program: Graduate Diploma in Architecture

This course is not available for challenge.

Credit may be transferred for previous work considered equivalent.

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This course is intended to provide you with an in-depth understanding of the integrated design process, including analyses, of designing high-performance buildings.

In an increasingly demanding economic, design, and construction environment, the performance expectations of buildings escalate while expectations of capital and operating costs decrease. Architects and engineers are expected to consider a wider range of design constraints and considerations and at the same time to work with greater efficacy. To address these systemic changes, the integrated approach to the design and analysis of building systems is increasingly being used.

This course is intended to increase your understanding of major buildings systems, from the standpoints of design requirements for human occupancy, through a detailed examination of a design process that stresses integration and a comprehensive approach to building energy analysis.


The course is divided into three major parts, and is further divided into a total of ten units, as listed below:

Part 1: Human Factors in Building Design

  • Unit 1 Climate-Responsive Design and Human Factors in Building Design
  • Unit 2 Human Comfort
  • Unit 3 Case Study: The Manitoba Hydro Building

Part 2: The People in IDP: Roles and Responsibilities

  • Unit 4 The Integrated Design Process in Theory and Practice
  • Unit 5 The People of IDP: Roles and Responsibilities
  • Unit 6 Facilitating the Integrated Design Process

Part 3: Whole-Building Energy Simulation

  • Unit 7 Energy Consumption in Buildings
  • Unit 8 Calculations for Demonstrating Energy Efficiency
  • Unit 9 Simulating the Performance Properties of Architectural Systems
  • Unit 10 Energy Consumption in Buildings: An Eight-City Analysis

Learning Outcomes

  1. Relate the human factors of environmental design to the function and characteristics of building systems.
  2. Describe the function, characteristics, and operation of normative building systems.
  3. Compare the opportunities and limitations of traditional and integrated design processes to create high-performance buildings.
  4. Describe the integrated design process approach to the creation of high-performance buildings.
  5. Discuss the value of whole-building energy simulations as part of the integrated design process.


Your work in this course will be evaluated based on four assignments . Assignments 1, 2, and 3 are each worth 30% of your final course grade. The final assignment will cover the entire course and is worth 10% of your final grade.

This information is summarized in the table below.

Assignment Part Covered Portion of Course Grade
Assignment 1 Part 1 30%
Assignment 2 Part 2 30%
Assignment 3 Part 3 30%
Assignment 4 Entire Course 10%
Total   100%

Students who wish to be certified by the CACB must achieve and maintain a final grade point average of 2.3 or greater. This means that, while a grade of 60% would constitute a pass in the course, a grade of 67% or greater is required for students who wish to pursue registration or licensing in architecture.

Course Materials

The course materials are listed below. If any of the print materials are missing from your course package, please contact the Course Materials department at Athabasca University as soon as possible. You may call Athabasca University, toll-free, from anywhere in Canada or the United States at 1-800-788-9041; ask to speak to someone in Course Materials (ext. 6366). Students in the Edmonton and Calgary areas are asked to call the local AU office to connect with the automated attendant, and then dial the four-digit extension. You may also send an email message to or write in care of Course Materials, Tim Byrne Centre, 4001 Hwy. 2 South, Athabasca AB, T9S 1A4, Canada.

Textbook (print)

7group (Boecker, J., Horst, S., Keiter, T., Lau, A., Scheffer, M., & Toevs, B.), & Reed, B. (2009). The integrative design guide to green building: Redefining the practice of sustainability. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Brophy, V., & Lewis, J. (2011). A green Vitruvius: Principles and practice of sustainable architectural design, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: Earthscan.

Other Materials

The course materials also include an online study schedule, study guide and course website.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, May 1, 2013.