This paper presents a newly-developed educational game intended to engage a broad audience into appreciating the built environment by reflecting on environmental impacts of renovation actions. The built environment and its related activities are responsible for extensive use of resources and a large amount of CO2 emissions. Although integration of sustainability into higher education curricula has been extensively researched, there is still little investigation of engaging approaches towards education on environmental assessment of buildings, their operation or maintenance. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) offers a powerful method to evaluate and communicate environmental impacts of products and services. Therefore, LCA allows to not only assess operational energy use of buildings but also explore embodied impacts of building materials. However, its complex nature inhibits its wide application in the praxis. New educational tools need to be developed to disseminate best practices towards the built environment. In this paper, we present a preliminary overview showing how educational games on building (re)use were conceptualized in literature; how they can be interactively modeled; and how they can be tested in educational contexts. Past research focuses are discussed with a literature review on 29 educational sustainability games on building (re)use. The goal of our game is to enable a critical life-cycle based reflection on renovation actions. Therefore, this game includes a model of a heritage hotel, where the player can iteratively intervene the building as owner, manager, preservation specialist or tourist, and dynamically get feedback on decisions. A pre-study was setup to evaluate how participants’ reflections on the app can be assessed using a questionnaire which focuses on two aspects: reflections on timing of interventions and material lifetimes; reflections on the scope of material replacements and maintenance. Thereby, we try to test the potential of engagement with buildings through first-hand game experience without prior LCA knowledge.
Fabian Kastner is a PhD researcher at the Chair of Construction Heritage and Preservation of ETH Zurich. His interdisciplinary PhD project focuses on the intersection of building stock transformations, sustainability analysis and educational applications. After a bachelor’s and master’s program in Civil Engineering at ETH Zurich, he wrote his master thesis at the Chair of Sustainable Construction of ETH Zurich. Alongside his studies, he worked as a student assistant at the Chair of Geotechnical Engineering, where he conducted experimental work with soil samples and contributed to a PhD thesis on soil liquification during earthquakes. His master thesis on life cycle analysis of bio-based construction materials was awarded with the Culmann prize at ETH Zurich. After his studies, he worked for two years in consulting and applied research within the field of sustainable construction in Zurich. Afterwards, he joined the group of Prof. Silke Langenberg at the Department of Architecture in March 2021.
Aydin Faraji is a MSc student at the Computer Science department of ETH Zurich. He is currently doing his master’s thesis at the Game Technology Center on emergent narratives. Before switching to game programming, he did a Bachelor of Science at Sharif University of Technology in Hardware Engineering. His BSc thesis was done on cache replacement policies which was published in ACM TODAES 2019. Alongside his studies, Aydin worked part-time as a research assistant to try out different research fields. He started with Computer Architecture and moved to Computational Neuroscience near the end of his bachelor’s. As a master student, he joined the Computer Vision and Geometry lab where he did research on 3D reconstruction. Afterwards, he joined the Game Technology Center under the supervision of Dr. Stéphane Magnenat and Prof. Robert Sumner.
Prof. Dr. Silke Langenberg is Professor for Construction Heritage and Preservation at ETH Zurich since 2020. Her research activities focus on the investigation and documentation of technological developments, materials, and construction principles of older, but also younger (and very recent) building stocks and their manufacturing processes. As a result of her research background in very different areas of ETH Zurich – first at the Institute for Monument Conservation and Building Research, then at the Institute for Technology in Architecture – she addressed the problem of the lack of reparability of industrially manufactured components and was the first to draw attention to the conservation and monument-theoretical problems of preserving digitally fabricated constructions. Subsequently, in a didactically redesigned teaching project in Munich, she expanded the classic heritage conservation concept of repair to include aspects and possibilities of digital fabrication, which she continues to pursue at ETH Zurich. In 2019, she published the book “Reparatur: Anstiftung zum Denken und Machen” (Repair: Encouraging Thinking and Making) based on the results of her teaching activities in Munich. Dr. Stéphane Magnenat is currently senior researcher at the Game Technology Center of ETH Zürich, Switzerland and the co-founder and CEO of Enlightware GmbH, a social enterprise focused on fostering the autonomy, creativity and collaboration skills of each individual through digital products. He received his PhD from EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland in 2010, and then worked at the Autonomous Systems Lab at ETH Zürich, and at Disney Research Zürich. From August 2015 to August 2016, he led a project at EPFL on teaching programming to children through a serious game combining robotics and augmented reality. In fall 2012, he visited Willow Garage at Menlo Park, CA, USA. He then visited Tufts University, MA, USA in 2013 and Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland in 2015. In 2012, he won the Best Demonstration Award at ECAI 2012 for his PhD work. His software library for nearest-neighbour search is used by the Google and NASA. He is also a co-founder of Mobsya, the association producing the Thymio educational robot. His current research focuses on mobile robotics, serious gaming, computer-science education, and augmented reality. Dr. Edwin Zea Escamilla studied architecture in Colombia and withholds a MSc in Urban Environmental Management from Wageningen University (NL). In 2010 he started working as a research assistant at the Chair of Sustainable Construction at ETH Zurich and received his doctoral degree in 2016. His research focus on the life cycle and sustainability analysis of construction materials and buildings. Edwin Zea undertook further education at the ETH Zürich and the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (Institute of Energy in Building) in the fields of Geographic Information Systems, project management for research, and energy efficiency in buildings. Prior to his doctoral thesis, he worked in consulting and has collaborated with various NGOs, companies and universities in Switzerland, the Netherlands and Colombia. In August 2016, Edwin was appointed as Head of Sustainable Building and Real Estate at the Centre for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CCRS) at the University of Zürich. During this time, Edwin continued working on national and international research projects dealing with bio-based materials, circular economy, CO2 issues, and sustainable construction specially looking at challenges and opportunities in the real estate markets. Prof. Dr. Robert Sumner is the Director of Research and Development at the Walt Disney Studios and an Adjunct Professor at ETH Zurich. Prof. Sumner received a B.S. degree in computer science from the Georgia Institute of Technology and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At Disney, Prof. Sumner leads the lab’s research in animation and games. His research group strives to bypass technical barriers in animation and game production pipelines with new algorithms that expand the designer’s creative toolbox in terms of depiction, movement, deformation, stylization, control, and efficiency. At ETH, Prof. Sumner teaches a course called the Game Programming Laboratory in which students work in small teams to design and implement novel video games. In 2015, Prof. Sumner founded the ETH Game Technology Center, which explores the unique way game technology can advance ETH’s mission in research, education, and outreach. Prof. Sumner was featured on BBC Click and Ars Technica for his work on Unfolding the 8-Bit Era as well as Reuters for his augmented reality research.