This article describes insulation as a cost-effective way to significantly increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions for both new buildings and older buildings.
The analysis quantifies the potential reduction in emissions, the implementation costs, and the long-term savings that could result from adding insulation or using low-carbon materials.
The resource provides three action steps readers can take to support the improvement of insulation and other climate solutions.
The methodology of the analysis is outlined to show students how the numerical values were determined.
This is a technical resource that is best suited for high-level students who are already very comfortable with climate-related topics.
There are limitations to this analysis mentioned in the discussion section, but the implementation percentage estimated is also very small, making the possible impact substantial if more households made improvements. Students should evaluate the limitations, variables, and implementation percentages in the scenarios.
Economics courses can focus on the financial modeling used to estimate the implementation costs and lifetime operational savings of this climate solution.
Science courses can compare this solution to other similar solutions and identify trade-offs or unique benefits.
Engineering students can focus on the building, materials, and appliance efficiency improvements and brainstorming ways to further reduce energy and resource waste.
Physics and engineering courses could dive further into the concept of thermal insulation, types of insulating materials, and how they can be used most effectively.
Civics classes could discuss ways to incorporate passive building designs that utilize passive solar heating and cooling into guidelines for schools and other municipal buildings that receive public funds.
This is a brief overview of insulation as a means to reduce heating and cooling costs, and make buildings more energy efficient, reducing their energy consumption. A solution to insulate buildings is presented along with a methodology, results, and discussion. This proposal is a great way to get students thinking about what else can be done to address climate change. 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-ETS1-3 Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.4 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 9-10 texts and topics.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.10 By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.