BS Sustainable Built Environments Curriculum, Emphasis Areas & Courses

Become a leader in the new green economy.

The Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments is a four-year, 121-credit interdisciplinary undergraduate degree that offers a comprehensive understanding of sustainability principles and will give you the skills you need to make our buildings, landscapes and communities more sustainable.

You can earn your degree in-person or online.


Curriculum

Review Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments curriculum by semester and year or view or download the SBE program overview and curriculum:

Overview and Curriculum for First-Year Students

Overview and Curriculum for Transfer Students

FALL 1

Course # Course Title Units
SBE 195A Introduction to Sustainability 1
ENGL 101 First-Year Composition 3
MATH 112 College Algebra 3
  Second Language 4
  General Education Tier I Traditions and Cultures* 3
  TOTAL 14

SPRING 1

Course # Course Title Units
SBE 195B Careers in Sustainability 1
ENGL 102 First-Year Composition 3
ECOL 182R Introductory Biology II - Lecture 3
ECOL 182L Introductory Biology II - Lab 1
  General Education Tier I Traditions and Cultures* 3
  General Education Tier I Individuals and Societies* 3
  General Education Tier I Individuals and Societies* 3
  TOTAL 17

FALL 2

Course # Course Title Units
SBE 201 Sustainable Design and Planning 3
SBE 221 History of the Built Environment I 3
SBS 200 Introduction to Statistics 4
ECON 200 Basic Economic Issues 3
EVS 260 Environmental Studies: Ideas and Institutions 3
  TOTAL 16

SPRING 2

Course # Course Title Units
SBE 202 Professional Communication and Presentation 3
SBE 222 History of the Built Environment II 3
CHEE 204 Water & Energy: Conventional and Alternative Systems 3
PHYS 102 Introductory Physics I - Lecture 3
PHYS 181 Introductory Physics I - Lab 1
  General Education Tier II Humanities * 3
  TOTAL 16

FALL 3

Course # Course Title Units
LAR 470 Introduction to GIS for Planning and Landscape Architecture 4
  Emphasis Course** 3
  Emphasis Course ** 3
  General Education Tier II Arts * 3
  General Education Tier II Individuals & Societies * 3
  TOTAL 16

SPRING 3

Course # Course Title Units
SBE 301 Introduction to Design Thinking 4
GEOG 367 Population Geography 3
PHIL 323 Environmental Ethics 3
  Emphasis Course** 3
  Emphasis Course** 3
  TOTAL 16

FALL 4***

Course # Course Title Units
SBE 393 Professional Internship 3
SBE 480 Research Methods 3
  Emphasis Course** 3
  Elective 3
  Elective 3
  TOTAL 15

SPRING 4***

Course # Course Title Units
SBE 498 Senior Capstone 3
ARC 471S History and Theory of Architecture IV: Contemporary Architecture 3
  Emphasis Course** 3
  Elective 3
  TOTAL 12

* UA General Education (Tier 1 TRADS, NATS and INDVS | Tier 2 IND-VS, NATS and Humanities) requires one course to have a "diversity" emphasis focus.
** Students are required to select one of the following emphasis areas (6 courses/18 units): Sustainable Buildings, Sustainable Communities, Sustainable Landscapes, Sustainable Real Estate Development, Heritage Conservation
*** Additional 500-level courses may be taken to prepare for the Accelerated Master's Program (AMP). Some elective courses may be fulfilled by emphasis courses taken during SBE program.


Emphasis Areas

As an SBE student you will select an emphasis area that aligns with your academic interests and career goals. Each emphasis area is specifically designed to prepare you with both a theoretical understanding and practical set of skills.

Select an emphasis area below to learn more and view emphasis courses:

Energy-efficient structures will be the buildings of the future. Combine your passion for sustainability and love of architecture for a career in this burgeoning field.

Students pursuing an emphasis in Sustainable Buildings within the Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments program explore the science and practice the techniques behind building energy efficiency. Hands-on coursework includes such topics as climate-responsive design, net-zero energy design, energy conservation, passive solar design and natural ventilation systems. In this interdisciplinary program, students learn how to analyze existing and planned structures and use critical-thinking skills and solutions-based strategies to create workable plans to make those buildings more efficient. Students graduate with a practical understanding of sustainability principles and expertise in built environment policy and design.

Main campus emphasis courses:

  • ARC 461D Computer Energy Analysis (3 units)
  • ARC 461E Sustainable Design and the LEED Initiative (3 units)
  • ARC 471K Energy and the Environment (3 units)
  • ARC 461P Environmental Science Laboratory (3 units)
  • ARC 471F Introduction to Heritage Conservation (3 units)
  • RED 415 Construction and Project Management (3 units)

Online emphasis courses:

  • ARC 461K Energy and the Environment (3 units)
  • ARC 461L Energy Use in Building (3 units)
  • ARC 461M Energy Efficient Design (3 units)
  • ARC 461N Energy Auditing and Modeling (3 units)
  • ARC 471F Introduction to Heritage Conservation (3 units)
  • RED 415 Construction and Project Management (3 units)

Interested in knowing what it takes to create sustainable communities today—and for future generations? Learn about it all, from urban planning to land development.

The Sustainable Communities Emphasis of the Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments program guides students to discover how local and regional planning creates more sustainable communities. Students explore climate action planning, transportation planning and urban development—and build critical thinking skills and a solutions-based approach to navigate the urban challenges of the present and future. Students also learn how planning impacts—and is influenced by—the environment, and how to make cities more sustainable and resilient. This program prepares students to begin careers in sustainable communities and also serves as a strong launch pad for graduate studies.

Main campus and online emphasis courses:

  • PLG 401A Planning Theory and Practice (3 units)
  • PLG 408 Climate Action Planning (3 units)
  • PLG 468 Urban Transportation Planning (3 units)
  • PLG 472 Environmental Land Use Planning (3 units)
  • PLG 476 The Land Development Process (3 units)
  • PLG 497S Sustainable Urban Development and Design (3 units)

Identify important strategies, such as green infrastructure and water harvesting, that we can employ to design innovative and sustainable landscapes.

The importance of the role that landscapes play in the built environment is at the center of the Sustainable Landscapes Emphasis of the Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments program. Students learn about environmental design, planning and management challenges and how to overcome them. Students study subjects such as water harvesting, passive cooling, urban heat island mitigation, climate adaptability and how landscapes can improve human health. They also explore urban ecology, natural resource management and environmental policy. Upon graduation, students have a deeper understanding of how landscapes play a pivotal role in a community and the ways to make them more sustainable.

Main campus and online emphasis courses:

  • LAR 420 Plant Materials (4 units)
  • LAR 423 Landscape Ecology (3 units)
  • LAR 440 Contemporary Landscape Architecture (3 units)
  • PLG 408 Climate Action Planning (3 units)
  • PLG 458 Geodesign Studio (3 units)
  • RNR 448 Conservation Planning and Wildland Recreation (3 units)

Join the new green economy with an in-depth look at sustainable land development and real estate finance.

Teaching students how to conceptualize and manage sustainable and responsible real estate development is a critical objective of the Sustainable Real Estate Development Emphasis of the Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments program. Coursework focuses on sustainable practices, urban design, real estate finance, site development and construction. Students learn practical business skills such as accounting, marketing and economics. The faculty are leaders in the real estate development field and their interdisciplinary approach to this program features collaborative learning environments that build skills in innovative thought, creativity, problem-solving and teamwork.

Main campus and online emphasis courses:

  • PLG 476 The Land Development Process (3 units)
  • RED 401 Introduction to Real Estate Finance (3 units)
  • RED 407 Survey of Responsible Real Estate Development (3 units)
  • RED 409 Due Diligence and Entitlements (3 units)
  • RED 415 Construction and Project Management (3 units)
  • RED 421 Placemaking and Urban Form (3 units)

Become a leader in historic preservation and learn about the importance of heritage conservation to preserve and create more sustainable built environments.

Students in the Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments program with a Heritage Conservation Emphasis explore the value of historic structures and landscapes and the reasons for preserving and adapting them. The faculty bring a breadth of experience and depth of expertise to coursework, teaching students how the preservation and adaptation of historic structures advances environmental, cultural and economic sustainability. Students learn the processes and protocols of conservation as well as current issues in historic preservation and resource management. Graduates are prepared for careers as managers at nonprofit organizations, leaders of government agencies and consultants in heritage conservation and historic preservation.

Main campus and online emphasis courses:

  • AIS 431A Traditional Ecological Knowledge (3 units)
  • ANTH 440A Cultural Resource Management (3 units)
  • ARC 471F Introduction to Heritage Conservation (3 units)
  • ARC 497J Documentation and Interpretation of the Historic Built Environment (3 units)
  • PLG 408 Climate Action Planning (3 units)
  • PLG 464 Preservation Planning Issues (3 units)

Accelerated Master’s Programs

Qualified main campus SBE students have the opportunity to earn a graduate degree in a shorter period of time through the university’s Accelerated Master’s Program (AMP). Qualified students may earn an accredited Master of Architecture, Master of Science in Architecture, accredited Master of Landscape Architecture, Master of Real Estate Development or accredited Master of Science in Urban Planning degree, getting a head start on graduate studies while still in the undergraduate program.

View the Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments / Master of Landscape Architecture, Master of Real Estate Development and Master of Science in Urban Planning AMP curricula in PDF format:


Courses

The undergraduate courses listed here align with the degree curriculum above, and are subject to change. For more information, contact an academic advisor or view all undergraduate courses offered by the School of Landscape Architecture and Planning.

An introduction to the growing literature on traditional ecological knowledge and its relationships to the ecological and social sciences.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

Cultural Resource Management (CRM) involves research to identify, evaluate and register historic properties, and mitigate adverse impacts to them. The course reviews the legislation, method and theory of CRM to develop the practical skills needed in professional applications.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

A comprehensive course that teaches students energy conservation and passive solar architecture and up-to-date computer energy simulation techniques. The course promotes students learning through field investigation of existing buildings and/or new design projects.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

A comprehensive course that focuses on sustainable design through energy conservation, passive solar architecture, and advanced computer energy simulation techniques. Develop thorough understanding of "Green Building Design"; currently the fastest growing segment of the building industry. Master advanced computer energy analysis using the industry standards DOE's eQUEST software. Learn about the LEED "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" Green Building Rating System for New Construction and become a LEED-Accredited Professional.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

A fully online course that fosters awareness and thorough understanding of the qualitative and quantifiable environmental forces that contribute to energy use in buildings. The course introduces basics for understanding solar energy and light, climate and microclimate, and human thermal comfort as related to the built environment.

Typically offered: Main Campus (Summer), Online (Fall, Summer)
Units: 3

Understand the quantitative and qualitative factors that contribute to energy flows and consumption in buildings' thermal performance.

Typically offered: Main Campus (Summer), Online (Fall)
Units: 3

Focuses on principles of energy efficient design through investigation of buildings, divided into four categories: baseline, passive design, active design and net-zero building.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

Focuses on principles of energy efficient design through investigation of buildings, divided into two categories: energy modeling and energy auditing.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

This comprehensive course focuses on understanding sustainable design through investigation of the most important environmental design principles including thermal comfort, daylight, shading, and ventilation.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

An overview of the interdisciplinary paradigms, principles, programs, and players in the field of heritage conservation ranging from local to international contexts.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

This course explores major intellectual paradigms in contemporary architectural and urban theory.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

Examines methods to document buildings, districts and cultural landscapes and methods to interpret historical and architectural significance. Focuses on historic built environments of Greater Southwest including semester-long service-learning project applying documentation and interpretation methodologies.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

Where does the energy come from to light a building or power an air conditioning system?  Where does the water in your facet originate and what treatment/processing has been required?  Where does the water go when you flush the toilet or drain a bathtub?  How do we distribute water and energy from central facilities to individual homes and businesses?  How do we avoid running out of water and energy for urban use?  This course will provide the fundamental information on water and energy systems and provide students with a broad education as to the past, present, and future considerations for sustainable water and energy system technologies.

Human population growth and increasing urbanization are stressing conventional water and energy resources.  Sustainability will require the continued exploration of renewable and alternative sources of water and energy.  In addition, water and energy systems are intrinsically and symbiotically related.  This course will explore the history, present, and future of these systems with an emphasis on the technologies for alternative energy and water.  Key areas for discussion will include atomic, solar, hydro, and wind energy system technologies, as well as water reuse and desalination.  Through this course, students will become familiar with the primary sources of water and energy and the systems and technologies used for production and conveyance.  The course will discuss how water and energy systems have developed and will evolve using case studies in each section of the class.  Scenario discussions will debate pros and cons of each approach including cost, feasibility, and sustainability.  Students completing this course will gain a strong understanding of the water and energy systems used to sustain urban growth and development, as well as a vision of the future related to challenges and potential solutions for sustainability. Course not acceptable as a technical elective or an engineering elective for engineering majors.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

National and international economic issues. An introduction to economic analysis.

Typically offered: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer
Units: 4

This class analyses the key ideas, individuals, and institutions that have shaped environmental studies and policies in the U.S. and globally. The course provides an introduction to environmental writings that have shaped attitudes to the environment, an overview of the most important U.S. and international institutions that have been established to manage the environment, and the exploration of critical and iconic environmental cases and problems. The course is intended to provide the social science foundations and basic environmental literacy for the degree in environmental studies.

Typically offered: Fall, Spring
Units: 3

Fertility, mortality and migration as agents of demographic change. Topics include fertility control and LDCs, working mothers and NDCs, aging societies, legal/illegal immigration in the U.S. and population policies.

Typically offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Units: 3

This course focuses on the examination and evaluation of plants effectively used in landscapes of the Southwest. Emphasis is placed on strategies useful for plant identification and appropriate plant selection for a variety of landscape uses. Field studies will be the primary mode of instruction whereas classroom lectures provide support material for the field work.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 4

The emphasis of this course is the understanding and subsequent use of principles of landscape ecology. This will be accomplished through the study of how spatial heterogeneity in landscapes influences various ecological processes in natural and created landscapes.

Lectures will primarily focus on an abbreviated review of ecosystem processes, characterization of landscape pattern and dynamics, and the consequences of these factors on the environments we examine in the profession of landscape architecture. Material will typically be presented with a more global perspective, whereas class discussions and field trips will generally focus on regional examples. Topics and concepts related to landscape ecology such as creating sustainability in environments and rehabilitation of terrestrial plant communities will also be highlighted in the course.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

This 3-credit course examines 20th and 21st century prominent designs that have shaped the profession of landscape architecture. Through case reviews of built works including significant gardens, urban designs, recreational areas, corporate landscapes, restored natural sites, heritage sites, waterfront projects, resorts, et al., we will explore the evolution of contemporary design ideology and theory in applied landscape architectural practice. Within this platform, the course will examine contemporary movements and trends toward future scholarship and practice.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

This course is an introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for graduate students in planning and landscape architecture and undergraduate students interested in design and the built environment. We will focus on three core usage domains of GIS: data management, communication/visualization, and analysis. Specifically, this class focuses on how fluency in these domains contributes to better design and planning of the built environment.

Typically offered: Fall, Summer
Units: 4

Students in this course will investigate and seriously consider how and why we should live as morally responsible members of an ecological community. Students will explore philosophical responses to questions such as: What makes something natural? What value is there to non-human entities? What obligations do we have to each other regarding the environment? How should we respond to catastrophic environmental change?

Typically offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Units: 3

This course is designed for advanced undergraduate students seeking careers in urban/regional planning, architecture, real estate development, and related fields. The primary objective of the course is to introduce students to the planning profession and the tracks of study within the University of Arizona's Planning Degree Program. Some of the topics covered during the semester include: the scope and objectives of urban planning; the evolution of the city and the profession of planning; ethics in planning; the place of planning within the government and the law; and selected topics of interest to planners.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

Cities are on the frontlines of climate change as the built environment is impacted by increasing sea level rise, floods, drought, wildfires and urban heat. This course explores the challenges and opportunities of planning and designing the built environment for climate adaptation and resilience. Urban resilience is the capacity of cities and their interconnected systems to survive, adapt, and thrive no matter what chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience. Students will learn a range of climate impacts on the built environment, examine different planning and design strategies to increase urban resilience, and explore real world case studies of cities planning for urban resilience. Urban resilience will be considered through a variety of planning and design scales - buildings, landscapes, neighborhoods, cities, and regions. This course emphasizes inclusive planning processes that engage the most vulnerable populations to climate impacts. Guest lectures from researchers and practitioners will also be featured to share their professional experiences in connecting climate science to planning and design efforts.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

Course reviews preservation policy and jurisdictional issues at national, state, and local levels in relationship to emerging preservation and development trends. Students will become familiar with available preservation planning tools and their application.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

Transportation planning in relation to urban development; techniques and procedures for developing long-range regional plans.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

This course focuses on the complex linkages between human and natural systems. Environmental planning utilizes methodologies which are systematic, iterative, and transparent and relies on integrating a wide spectrum of contemporary environmental issues in order to achieve more sustainable land use outcomes. As an interdisciplinary course, it draws from the fields of planning, geography, design, land use law, public policy, economics, natural science, and engineering among others.

This course aims to equip students with a broad knowledge base which focuses on landscape components and processes. Further, students will develop the necessary land use analysis and management skills in order to help guide land use decision making, engage stakeholders, and minimize/mitigate conflict between natural and built systems in an effort to produce more sustainable land use patterns and plans.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

A case-oriented approach to site selection, rezoning, financing, architectural design, economic feasibility, and other facets of the land development process.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

Geodesign is a rapidly evolving approach which integrates geographic science into the planning and design process. The burgeoning development of Geodesign is resultant from the ongoing innovations in geographic information and geospatial technologies, and to explore their applications in landscape planning and design.

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

Examines contemporary competition between environment, resources (water, energy), social equity, and economic viability in the community development and revitalization arena. Public policy, planning initiatives, design strategies and technical solutions that bridge the conflicting agendas are analyzed. Field investigation of contemporary cases. Appropriate for students specializing in planning, architecture and landscape architecture.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

The focus of this course is the analysis of capital formation in commercial real estate and examination of the tools real estate investors use to make investment decisions. The course includes sections on capital sources, investor concerns and hurdles, data sources, investment fundamentals and tools, discounted cash flow modeling, and pre-tax equity distributions for a range of partnerships.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

There is an interest in assuring that real estate development of the future is more socially, environmentally, and economically responsible than in the past. Emerging research shows that responsible real estate development can produce competitive short-term and superior long-term financial returns. This introductory course will review sweeping changes occurring in real estate development.

Typically offered: Fall (Online)
Units: 3

This course provides students a review of the legal principles that inform and regulate the due diligence and entitlement process that is the basis of every successful real estate transaction.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

The objective of the course is to introduce real estate development students, and those from other majors and programs, to construction management as a component of the real estate development process.  The course will introduce students to the fundamentals of building construction, project budget estimation, project management, scheduling, and project leadership.  The course will focus both case analyses and discussions of best practices.  Industry experts will provide insight and help guide the course substantively.  The course will ask students to analyze decisions made by real estate developers about construction management and communicate clearly about construction management and its role in mitigating risk and enhancing project returns.

Typically offered: Fall (Online)
Units: 3

This course will introduce students to the fundamental concepts of urban design and urban form and the role these play in placemaking in cities, towns and suburbs. The course will cover the work of urban design theorists, variables that impact a community's sense of place, challenges and opportunities in modern city design, and methods to design more livable and sustainable cities.

Typically offered: Spring (Online)
Units: 3

This course will introduce the concepts and techniques used in the growing field of human use management in outdoor recreation settings. The focus is on the sociological dimensions of the recreation experience and an understanding of the principles, practices and dilemmas of outdoor recreation management in natural areas.

Typically offered: Fall, Spring
Units: 3

This first-year colloquium will prepare students with insight into sustainable concepts and practices. Students will learn about sustainability and its impacts on the built environment from a national and global perspective.

Typically offered: Fall, Summer
Units: 1

This first-year colloquium will prepare Sustainable Built Environments and exploratory students with insight into careers in sustainability. Students will learn about the career paths offered by the degree  program and practice professional skills required to obtain internships and jobs.

Typically offered: Spring, Summer
Units: 1

The focus of this course is on sustainable design and planning and is a framework for how we plan, build, and live in our built environments in a way that better balances environmental, social, and economic demands.

Typically offered: Fall, Summer
Units: 3

This course explores effective oral communication within the professions of the built environment with the intent of increasing student understanding of and competency in oral communication in preparation for entry into the world of practice

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

The study of the history of the built environment provides a general understanding on how human societies have adapted the form of the built environment to their unique cultural, political, economic, climatic, and environmental challenges across time.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

The study of the history of the built environment provides a general understanding on how human societies have adapted the form of the built environment to their unique cultural, political, economic, and environmental challenges across time. This is the second course out of two courses and they are organized in modules that correspond to different climatic zones. These are: 1. Hot and arid, 2. Hot and humid, 3. Cold and arid, 4. Cold and humid, 5. Temperate and arid, 6. Temperate and humid. This second course includes the last three climate zones (cold and humid, temperate and arid, and temperate and humid).

Typically offered: Spring
Units: 3

This course introduces students to the essential methods of visual communication and ordering systems through a series of interrelated exercises. Techniques such as investigative sketching, freehand drawing, and digital design communication are considered in relation to their potential to reveal the world around us with a heightened sense of awareness. Issues such as place, material, structure and enclosure will be explored empirically and conceptually at a variety of scales and applications. Importantly, this is an interdisciplinary based studio; students enrolled in this course will have the ability to engage in a variety of different design strategies.

Typically offered: Spring (Online)
Units: 4

The primary goal of the internship is to give students an opportunity to apply lessons learned in the classroom to a real-world experience set in a professional practice-oriented environment, with the intern's work overseen by a professional.

Typically offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Units: 3

This course is all about answering questions and solving problems in urban environments. Students will get to choose what content to study during the course, i.e. transportation, the environment, social equity, etc. For undergraduate students, their topic can inform the development of a senior capstone in subsequent semesters. Graduate students can use the work from this class to advance their thesis or professional project work.

Typically offered: Fall
Units: 3

The Senior Capstone is the culminating experience for Sustainable Built Environment majors involving a substantive project that demonstrates a synthesis of learning accumulated in the major, including broadly comprehensive knowledge of the discipline and its methodologies.

Typically offered: Fall, Spring
Units: 3

An introductory course in the fundamentals of modern statistics with applications and examples in the social and behavioral sciences. Topics include: methods for describing and summarizing data, probability, random sampling, estimating population parameters, significance tests, contingency tables, simple linear regression, and correlation.

Typically offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Units: 4


Ready to create a more sustainable future?

Learn more about the Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments by contacting Cait Fitzpatrick, undergraduate recruitment coordinator, or review the admissions process and begin your application now:

Start Your Application