Problem-Based-Learning and Learning-Through-Service for Sustainability Education


This paper shows how problem-based-learning (PBL) and learning-through- service (LTS) can provide a strong framework for fostering students' adaptive expertise, flexibility, creativity, innovation, and passion in the classroom. Mississippi State University (MSU) represented by its Civil and Environmental Engineering Department (CEE) is currently in the design-development stage for the construction of a new Civil and Environmental Engineering Complex (CEEC). CEE is garnering a new focus on sustainability with special emphasis on environmentally responsible design, construction, and operation of constructed facilities. To this end, the authors have mentored a group of 22 undergraduate junior students under the High Performance Sustainable Construction class to provide a comprehensive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) analysis for the new CEEC using the 2009 Reference Guide for Green Building Design and Construction, the student work shows that CEEC can possibly earn up to 74 points to acquire a Gold LEED Certification. This study shows that PBL and LTS can enhance students' abilities of understanding and solving real world civil infrastructure problems and challenges. Also, this student-driven teaching approach instills a creative learning environment, understanding of the surrounding world, and a sense of social responsibility.

Meeting Name

Construction Research Congress 2012: Construction Challenges in a Flat World (2012: May 21-23, West Lafayette, IN)


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Adaptive expertise; Civil and Environmental Engineering Department; Civil infrastructures; Creative-learning; Environmentally responsible; Green building design; Leadership in energy and environmental designs; Mississippi State University; Problems and challenges; Reference guides; Social responsibilities; Sustainability education; Sustainable construction; Teaching approaches, Design; Energy efficiency; Environmental engineering; Research; Social aspects; Students, Sustainable development

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2012 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 May 2012