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11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Economics, Engineering, Computer Science

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Interactive Media
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables
  • Worksheets
  • Videos

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West, USA - Midwest, Wisconsin, Capital (CESA 2), California, Illinois



Energy Use Modeling With Sketchbox

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  • Sketchbox is a web interface that models building energy consumption to help make energy and cost-saving decisions.
  • This resource includes important information to use Sketchbox with students, such as a webinar explainer, four lesson plans, tutorials, and more.
  • In the lesson plans, students become familiar with the model's different parameters and learn about energy codes, building schedules, and minimizing carbon emissions, using Sketchbox to model buildings in Chicago, Madison, and Los Angeles.
Teaching Tips


  • This resource will empower students to advocate for energy-saving decisions in their homes, schools, and community buildings.
  • The user-friendly lessons introduce students to the model and gain experience manipulating the model in a structured way.
  • Students practice many scientific skills, such as developing and using models, analyzing and interpreting data, computational thinking, and making claims from evidence.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This web-based resource is free to use, and there are no downloads needed.
  • All users will need to create a Sketchbox account with their email address.
  • Under the How To Get Started section at the bottom of the page, there is a link to Sketchbox tutorials that walks you through the interface, the six different tabs, three case studies, frequently asked questions, and troubleshooting tips.
  • Users can save multiple projects to the cloud storage. There is also an option to download and upload files to and from Sketchbox.
  • In the free version, each project site can have two different buildings, allowing for easy comparison.


  • Students can play the role of architects, engineers, building managers, energy analysts, or contractors making important decisions to save energy and reduce costs for their buildings, connecting this lesson to green careers.
  • By setting the location, the model accounts for weather and utility costs in that area. Students can explore how energy and cost efficiency changes based on location.
  • In economics classes, students can use Sketchbox to conduct a cost-benefit analysis in creating more energy-efficient buildings.
  • In science classes, students can focus on reducing emissions in their building designs to minimize the environmental impact.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a four-lesson unit that introduces students to sustainable building practices using the Sketchbox tool to model building energy use and the efficacy of energy efficiency technologies. The lessons allow students to access the same US Department of Energy DOE2 software that energy modelers use but through a web-based interface that does not have such a steep learning curve. All lesson plans feature clear background information and feature links to excellent sources for further research. This resource helps connect students to clean energy careers and highlights the climate implications of energy efficiency. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-2 Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-4 Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-7 Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Economics
      • D2.Eco.2.9-12 Use marginal benefits and marginal costs to construct an argument for or against an approach or solution to an economic issue.
    • Dimension 4: Taking Informed Action
      • D4.7.9-12 Assess options for individual and collective action to address local, regional, and global problems by engaging in self-reflection, strategy identification, and complex causal reasoning.
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