Leaving Cert construction studies: Sustainability a major theme on paper

Passive house construction and wind turbines feature in topical exam

Sustainability was a major theme on this year’s higher level construction studies paper, with students asked about passive house construction, wind turbines and how homes can have a lower environmental impact.

Aidan Brogan, TUI subject representative and a teacher at Davitt College in Castlebar, said that the paper was generally in line with previous years.

“There was a tweak in the approach to the passive house question, which this year focused on retrofitting,” he said.

“This was nice and topical and of big interest to young people who are particularly concerned with environmental impact, and construction studies students who also enjoy watching TV shows like Grand Designs and Room to Improve with Dermot Bannon.”


Mr Brogan said there was nothing unfair on the paper but that the compulsory question one contained some detail on a window feature that would have challenged some students.

Ordinary level

The ordinary level paper was in line with most years and did not contain any surprises, said Mr Brogan.

“Question one was a little difficult for that level, however, and was very similar to the window question on the higher paper; this would have been a big challenge to students. The ordinary level paper did not include the same thematic focus on sustainability as its higher level counterpart.”

Nationwide, construction studies is a relatively popular subject, with 9,328 sitting the paper, including 8,281 females and 1,047 males.

Mr Brogan said that the subject was popular in his school because the catchment area is relatively rural and that many of the student’s families are involved in the industry in some form.

He added that 30 per cent of the construction studies students in his class are girls and that is he is pleased that the figure has been rising year on year.

Try this at home:

- Leaving Cert construction studies (higher level)

“Global warming is now a generally recognised phenomenon and sustainability is recognised as being a necessity, not an option.

“One of the main culprits blamed for global warming is carbon dioxide (CO2), so it is worth taking a look at what can be done about it. CO2 is produced by each of us every day, and our personal carbon footprint is a measure of how many tonnes of CO2 are emitted directly or indirectly, as a result of the consumption of goods and services.

“When building your own home you should take every opportunity to build in the most sustainable way so as to minimise your own carbon footprint.”

- Adapted from: Building Your Own Sustainable and Energy Efficient House. by Henry Skates.

Q: Discuss the above statement in detail and propose three best practice guidelines that would ensure that buildings are built in the most sustainable way possible and thus minimise their carbon footprint.