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The Sustainable Building Field Trip – Real vs. Virtual

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Instructional Innovations and Global Issues in Architectural Engineering Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1236.1 - 23.1236.10



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Paper Authors


Orla Smyth LoPiccolo State University of New York, Farmingdale

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Professor Orla Smyth LoPiccolo is a registered architect who joined the faculty of the Department of Architecture and Construction Management in September 2008. Prior to joining Farmingdale State College, LoPiccolo was an adjunct professor for the Department of Architecture and Design, New York Institute of Technology for five years. LoPiccolo received her undergraduate and professional degree with honors from Dublin Institute of Technology - Bolton Street College of Technology and Trinity College, the University of Dublin, Ireland, and her post-professional degree in Architecture Urban Regional Design from New York Institute of Technology. Subsequently LoPiccolo received a postgraduate diploma in Construction Management from New York University where she was awarded the Excellence in Academic Achievement Award. LoPiccolo has private sector architecture and project management experience in both Dublin, Ireland and on Long Island, NY, and she has over ten years of public sector experience as an architect and a Community Development Project Supervisor with the Town of Islip, NY. She is an active member of committees and groups at Farmingdale State College, including the Green Building Institute, Smart Grid Committee, Calendar Committee, Leadership, Governance and Administration Middles States Working Group Sub-Committee, Academic Working Group Committee for the college’s Centennial Celebration, and an Orientation Faculty Leader. Off-campus, LoPiccolo has completed a three year term as the secretary and treasurer of American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Middle Atlantic Section and was recently elected as chair-elect of this section. In addition to her numerous presentations and publications on her research in teaching sustainable construction methods, and service learning, LoPiccolo has New York State Building and Energy Code certifications, Passive House consultant training, International Code Council (ICC) certifications−Green Building, and Residential Energy, and Building Performance Institute (BPI) certifications−Building Analyst Professional and Building Envelope Professional. LoPiccolo has researched and integrated sustainable construction techniques, service learning, student-built physical models, Autodesk Revit Architecture and field trips into her courses and she was as awarded a Title III Students First grant to introduce freshmen students to sustainable construction methods including Passive House design. LoPiccolo teaches Materials and Methods of Construction I, Graphics I, Graphics II, Construction Design, and Site Design and Construction.

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The Sustainable Building Field Trip – Real vs. VirtualWhen studying sustainable building techniques — can virtual field trips be a substitute for realfield trips? Field trips have long been used to supplement coursework, offer students firsthandknowledge and provide them an opportunity to gather data “in the field.” Albert Einstein said,“The only source of knowledge is experience.” Faculty routinely share their experience andknowledge with students through in-class activities such as lectures and discussions, but out-of-classroom activities such as field trips offer new dimensions in learning. By visiting asustainable building, students can see sustainable construction techniques, building materials andequipment that may not be otherwise available to them. Students learning about the constructionand design fields in 2012 need sustainable building knowledge. This is necessary to meet theincreased public interest in saving money in building lifecycle costs, preserving the environmentand meeting sustainable/energy conserving requirements as set by many permitting agencies andcodes. Although there are increasing numbers of sustainable buildings completed and beingbuilt, a real field trip to one may not be an option. Factors such as the building’s proximity to thestudents’ campus, access to the building, cost of travel, and time constraints may be deterrents togoing on a field trip to a sustainable building. An alternate to the real field trip is the virtual fieldtrip, where for example students can take a virtual tour of a sustainable building online and learnthe information that would be given to participants on a real tour of the facility. The goal of thispaper is to quantitatively examine students’ learning from a real field trip to the QueensBotanical Garden Visitor and Administrative Center, Flushing, New York, an award-winning,sustainable building, and compare it to students’ learning from a virtual field trip on the QueensBotanical Garden website. Two groups of Architecture and Construction Management studentswill be pre-tested on their knowledge of basic sustainable construction techniques found at theVisitor and Administrative Center sustainable building on the field trip, then either taken on areal field trip of the sustainable building or instructed to take a virtual tour of the same facility.Following their field trips, both groups of students will be given the same post-test and theirrespective learning will be assessed and compared. Students will be given a qualitative survey toassess their assigned field trip type. The results of this study will provide faculty with anunderstanding of the relative benefits of integrating a field trip, real or virtual, into their courses..

LoPiccolo, O. S. (2013, June), The Sustainable Building Field Trip – Real vs. Virtual Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22621

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