Designing “Green” to Save Our Green Planet

By Bertina Banks, July 5, 2009

Grade Level

  • Middle School


  • Green Design

Subject Area

  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Technology

Lesson Time

180 minutes for classroom activities and 60 minutes for homework


“Hello. I am Earth. I am your client!  I need your help.  As future homeowners will you please design homes that are more environmentally friendly! The more green homes I am home to, the better!”

In this lesson students will be answering Earth’s plea by drawing on their factual understanding of energy conservation and renewable resources to design a practical environmentally friendly home.

Find and view some short videos on mainstream green:

Students will work in collaborative groups to brainstorm about what makes a house green. 

National Standards

Physical Sciences

Standard 9. Understands the sources and properties of energy  

Common Core State Standards

English Language Arts Standards: Speaking and Listening

Grade 6-8

Comprehension and Collaboration:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.1.A Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.3 Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and identifying when irrelevant evidence is introduced.
  • Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.4 Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.5 Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grade 8 Language standards 1 and 3 here for specific expectations.)

English Language Arts Standards: Science & Technical Subjects 

Grade 6-8    

Key Ideas and Details:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.3 Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.

Craft and Structure:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.7 Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.8 Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in a text.


Students will:
  • connect their prior factual understanding of alternative resources to their green house design
  • brainstorm and design a model for a “green house” (i.e. a home with fifteen various ways of saving energy from external structure to internal practical use)
  • present their design
  • incorporate student and teacher feedback into their design



  • computers with internet access
  • chart paper
  • markers
  • construction paper
  • wooden craft sticks
  • projector




Prior to this lesson it is important to emphasize the current energy problem and how small changes by a large number of people can have tremendous impact (see Powerpoint).

Day 1: Introduction

1.  Students will watch one of the videos on how homes can be more energy efficient and then discuss this issue before researching what can actually be done to make our homes green.

2. Teacher will introduce various Web sites that serve as resources to help students design green houses.  Say, “Now log on to: .”  Say “The Web site below will give you different options for green building materials such as eco-friendly finish wood, green siding, and shingles for a construction project. Items such as structural insulated panels or sustainable concrete can also be found. This site will also help you find some of the best eco-friendly manufacturers of green building materials.  This site will also help you design the various rooms of your home.  Remember you have to choose five items in at least three rooms that are energy efficient or environmentally friendly.  For example green flooring, green cleaners, green countertops, etc.”

3. Say, “ Now log on to:

This Web site will give you more ideas about the going green.”

(Note: The design process will aid in implementation of this lesson by providing students with an avenue to creatively create a cost efficient green solutions.)

4. Design Challenge: Say, “You are all designers. Earth is your client.  You have been asked to create more  green homes.  A green house is defined as having fifteen or more ways of conserving energy from external structure to internal use of items in the home.

5. Help students navigate Web sites that suggest how homes can become green.

6. Place students into small groups to brainstorm design ideas (provide large chart paper).

7. Students will brainstorm about which aspects of their home will be green.  Every group has to include a structural aspect, and describe five items in at least three rooms in the home that are “green”.

8. Have students brainstorm about at least three aspects they can use structurally (for example: solar panels, building materials such as brick, wood, siding, etc.) and fifteen items that can be changed to more energy efficient items in the entire home.

Day 2: Plan and Design

1. Say, “Today you will use various internet resources to plan and design your green home.  You will investigate which ideas are most cost effective and easiest for the average person to incorporate in their lives. You will narrow down the ideas you brainstormed about on yesterday and finalize your design.”

2. The students will extend their knowledge about how energy is neither created nor destroyed but transferred, by understanding that compounded effects of small choices made concerning energy use have a huge impact.  For example the amount of energy that can be saved by using CFL lights in numerous neighborhoods, etc.

3. Students will draw a blueprint for their green home explaining in detail the various components.  Students will refer to handout for details (see attachment).  Students will highlight green areas of home so that they are easily distinguished.

Day 3: Present and Reflect

1. Say, “Today you will present your design to the class and get feedback from your teachers and peers.”

2. Say, “During your presentation, you will need to tell us the fifteen aspects that make your home green and you should also predict what you think the impact of a whole neighbor with green homes like yours would be on the environment. Then you will have a chance to take questions and comments from the class.”

3. Students will present their work and receive feedback from teacher and peers.

4. After students have made their presentations keep their blueprints for an “Open Green House Fair.”  During the “Open Green House Fair” teachers and parents can “go shopping” for green homes.

5. During the “Open Green House Fair” students will serve as realtors to potential home buyers and explain the benefits of their particular home.    


The teacher will listen to and observe students as they work in small groups and individually. The teacher will ask students questions about their design including:
  • Is this house feasible or attainable for the average homeowner?
  • How could you make it even more practical?
The teacher will evaluate the students using a rubric.

Enrichment Extension Activities

Students can create a 2D model of their home using materials such as wooden craft sticks to mimic green wood, plastic from bottles to mimic green siding, etc.  Students could build a 3D model of their home.

Students could also present hypothetical quantitative data about some of the effects of going green. Students could use the impact calculator and the Web site.  For example they could calculate the energy saved by using solar panels or CFL light bulbs.

Students will extend this process by choosing a non-green item and designing a green version of their item for “the other 90%.”  In other words, students will design a cost effective, environmently friendly green item so that other countries can also “go green.”

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