Unit 9. Planning and Decision-Making
- Plan a sustainable urban water system for a particular scenario
- Articulate pros and cons of water system options
- Describe their consideration of the triple bottom line in their design decisions
- Communicate a plan via a poster presentation and short oral report illustrating their decision matrix
- Assess the group plans and select and defend which plan is most feasible and sustainable
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
Unit 9 is intended to be the summative assessment for the Water Sustainability in Cities Module. It assesses the module learning goal of enabling students to plan for water sustainability in cities by giving students a design problem where they must implement the sustainable practices learned in the previous units to enhance the water sustainability of a proposed suburban development. In the final group presentation, students are assessed on their achievement of the unit learning goals including:
- Planning a sustainable urban water system for a particular scenario
- Articulating the pros and cons of their chosen water system options
- Conducting a decision analysis considering the triple bottom line
- Communicating their group's plan via a poster or oral presentation
- Assessing the group plans and selecting and defending which plan is most feasible and sustainable
In this unit, students divide into small groups and are presented with a design problem. They are given a ten-acre parcel on which twenty-one homes will be built. Their goal is to implement sustainable practices to minimize the indoor and outdoor water consumption of the development, to minimize storm water runoff from the site, and to consider the impact of urban development on the hydrologic cycle. Each group presents its sustainable suburban development design to the class.
Two class sessions are necessary. During the first session, students work as a group to develop their design. Some additional time outside of class may be necessary for the group to prepare its class presentation. During the second class session, the groups present their designs to the rest of the class. The summative assessment is based on these group presentations.
An individual summative assessment is included, in which students critique the different designs in a short written essay and select which design they think is the most sustainable.
- Computers are not necessary for this unit, but may be helpful.
- Poster paper or flip charts and markers are required for group presentations.
- This unit requires two class periods. The instructor may wish to provide additional time between these class periods for students to complete the required assignment.
- A downloadable copy of Unit 9 instructions for students (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 2.8MB Sep22 16) is available to distribute for this activity. This document outlines the steps for activities for both days of Unit 9.
(5-10 min) Activity 9.0 - In-Class: Review Synthesis Activity
Class discussion of students' submitted PowerPoint slides of items related to water sustainability in cities. The instructor could put all of the slides submitted by students into a single PowerPoint, which can be displayed during class and each slide very briefly discussed. This is a great way to review the material covered in previous units, and it gets students thinking about sustainable design options as they move into the final design project.
- Student handout for the Synthesis Activity (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 24kB Jul5 16).
(20 min) Activity 9.1 - In-Class: Mind Map
Students are presented with an urban development scenario and they revise, edit and add to their mind map of the urban water system to create a final mind map for use in their group presentation. Building off the exercise in Unit 1, teams will need to build on their group mind map of the site system exploring the interconnections of the various water elements as well as other sub-systems that interact with the water system.
Urban Development ScenarioThe urban design scenario for the Unit 9 group project is a 10-acre parcel of land with proposed suburban development. The goal is to design the development to include up to twenty-one 2,000 ft2 homes on 1/3-acre lots incorporating the urban water sustainability principles learned in the module, including implementation of rain gardens, pervious concrete, water-efficient landscaping, decentralized wastewater management, green roofs and rainwater harvesting. The group designs should strive to achieve sustainability goals and the cost of their design.
(45 min) Activity 9.2 - In-Class: Preliminary Plan
Students brainstorm strategies to make the water system of the proposed urban development sustainable and resilient. The preliminary plan will include (1) a sketch of the initial site design and (2) a listing of tasks to complete the project that includes identifying what the team knows (and from what unit), what the team needs to learn, how much time each task will take, and who will accomplish each task (this is the metacognition exercise and assessment).
Activity 9.3 - Homework: Individual Calculations and Report
Students work individually to prepare a three-page report with attached calculations and figures explaining their plan and proposed strategies for achieving a sustainable water design for the proposed scenario.
9.3.1 Outdoor Water Use
Students use concepts learned in Units 4 and 5 to develop a water-efficient landscape design for the yards and communal areas of the development. They calculate the water use if all landscaped areas are turf, then compare water use of their water-efficient design to the water use of the turf landscape.
9.3.2 Indoor Water Use
Students use concepts learned in Units 5 and 7 to reduce the indoor water consumption of the proposed development, then compare their proposal with typical values of indoor water use.
9.3.3 Catchment Scale Water Management
Students use concepts learned in Units 2 and 6 to compute the pre-development and post-development storm water runoff from the site. Then they use strategies learned in Units 5 and 6 to propose strategies to reduce the developed runoff and water quality impacts, with the goal of reducing the post-development runoff to pre-development levels.
9.3.4 Urban Climate
Students are asked to consider possible urban climate effects from the change in albedo following the development. And, considering what they learned in Unit 3, they are asked to propose strategies to reduce these impacts.
9.3.5 Extreme Events
Students use concepts learned in Unit 8 to propose strategies to increase the resilience of the proposed development to potential extreme flood and drought events.
Activity 9.4 – In-Class: Group Planning
Students reconvene in groups and integrate their individual plans into a group design and organize their plan into a group presentation using flip charts/poster paper and markers that includes the following:
- Site design
- Plan for reducing indoor and outdoor water use and amount of savings for each compared with typical values, including justification for the strategies used
- Plan for reducing the storm water runoff from the development to match the natural (pre-development) hydrograph and for minimizing negative water quality impacts
- Potential urban climate impacts and strategies for minimizing impacts
- Possible strategies to increase the resilience of the development to potential extreme flood and drought events
- Assessment of how well the proposed design meets the goals of water sustainability in urban areas
Activity 9.5 – In-Class: Group Presentations
- Groups give their presentations to the class.
- Rubric for instructor assessment of group presentation (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 31kB Jul5 16)
Activity 9.6 – In-Class: Peer and Self Review
- Students review their peers' presentations and review their group's design using the peer-review version of the rubric (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 22kB Jul5 16)
- This rubric is formatted with two rubrics per page, so that they can be cut in half after printing to reduce the amount of paper used.
- This rubric can also be used to ask students to assess their own group design for self-reflection.
Teaching Notes and Tips
- Instructor rubric for assessing group presentations (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 31kB Jul5 16)
- Rubric for peer-review of group presentations (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 22kB Jul5 16) (This rubric is formatted with two rubrics per page, so that they can be cut in half after printing to reduce the amount of paper used)
Each group will give a presentation of their proposed design. The presentation should include:
- Selected strategies used to reduce water consumption and runoff
- E.g., how many sq. ft. of pervious pavement, water-efficient landscaping, etc.
- Net reduction in water consumption and runoff
- How much less water does their proposed development use than a "typical" development?
- Consideration of cost of selected strategies
- Explanation of why they chose the strategies that they chose, how these strategies affect the impact of urban development on the hydrologic cycle and why their development proposal is more sustainable than a typical development.
Students will be assessed on the following:
- Accuracy and completeness of computations
- Demonstration of understanding of sustainability
- Demonstration of understanding of the impact of urban development on the hydrologic cycle
- Sustainability of design
- Reduction in water consumption – what strategies did they implement? Can they explain their rationale for why they chose the strategies that they did? Did they iterate on different options?
- Reduction in stormwater runoff – does the developed runoff = natural runoff? Can they explain their rationale for why they chose the strategies that they did? Did they iterate on different options?
- Consideration of cost of design
Addressing Module Goals:
As the summative assessment for the module, Unit 9 addresses the goals of the module by requiring that students:
- explain key concepts related to sustainability and water systems in cities (module goal)
- apply knowledge and skills from atmospheric science, hydrologic science and biological science to plan for water sustainability in cities
- use systems thinking to identify opportunities to enhance water system sustainability in cities
- create feasible alternatives and recommend options to improve the sustainability of water systems in cities
How this summative assessment addresses InTeGrate rubric guiding principles?
- Addresses one or more geoscience-related grand challenges facing society?
Water and sustainability are both grand challenges facing society
- Develops student ability to address interdisciplinary problems?
This unit requires that students apply some of the basic science concepts learned in earlier units to an engineering and planning design problem
- Improves student understanding of the nature and methods of geoscience and developing geoscientific habits of mind?
Impact of urban development on the natural hydrologic cycle
- Makes use of authentic and credible geoscience data to learn central concepts in the context of geoscience methods of inquiry?
Climate data will be used to estimate runoff and urban climate impacts
- Incorporates systems thinking?
Activity 9.1 requires a systems mind map