Sustainicum Collection

Consus The aim of the project is to establish a regional science-society network for sustainability innovations in Albania and Kosovo in order to strengthen the connection and collaboration of institutions in the field of higher education, research and practice.

Resource facts

  • 5 to 10 students
  • Up to 3 lecture units
  • English, German

Resource Description

Instruction file

Additional attachments

Sustainability in everyday life(Resource ID: 197)

This building block consists of a competition where teams of students look for examples of sustainable or unsustainable implementations in their everyday lives (school, university, at home, transport, consumer behavior, etc.). Their findings are thoroughly researched, backed with figures and images and presented in a short presentation of about 15 minutes. The groups compete to find the best or least sustainable solution.


  • Introductory presentation, formation of groups, discussion in teams, explanation of the competition and its content (1-2h).
  • Team activities: definition of competition and assessment of results (outside the course room - this may take several hours depending on the individual commitment).
  • Presentation of results, discussion (1-2h)


The more the students know about the competition’s content, the better the building block can be implemented. We therefore recommend using other content-related-building blocks. A competition on "energy" could for example be based on the building blocks "The Energy Problem" and/or "Thermal Energy".

Introductory presentation

This building block relates sustainability to practical implementation. First, an overview of sustainability is given in a short introductory presentation. The focus of the presentation lies on the importance of sustainable solutions and the fact that decisions for or against sustainability are made in our everyday lives. It should be stressed that unsustainable behavior will only relocate or delay problems (e.g. landfill sites). As a rule, delayed problems increase or get worse over time (e.g. water inflow in underground disposal sites such as the deep geological repository for radioactive waste Asse II). The energy supply of industrialized countries should also be discussed to give an example for export problems. Negative side effects of unsustainable behavior such as the shortage of resources, natural disasters, support of dictatorships and wars are relocated and/or delayed. Compared to newly arising problems, the original problem – establishing a sustainable CO2-neutral energy supply – seems easy to solve.

Annotated slides are provided for the introductory presentation.

Competition (discussion of topics, organization, rules)

The introductory presentation raises the question why sustainable behavior cannot be observed more often and why sustainable solutions are the exception rather than the rule. The best way to answer these questions would be to let the students implement sustainable solutions themselves. However, this would be too much work for a course. It is easier to look for striking examples and to research their hindering or driving forces.

Therefore, a competition is prepared after the presentation - based on the premise "Who can find the most sustainable or most unsustainable example". The lecturer has to limit the number of possibilities (e.g. locally: student's immediate surroundings such as university, their homes and by topic: energy, food, waste, etc.). The objectives should also be clear:

1.  Find and present a striking example of (un) sustainability.

2.  Find out the reasons for/against sustainability of the selected example.

For the competition, teams of 3-4 students are formed, which then discuss the examples they would like to research, how to proceed and if they will need any tools. The lecturer assumes the role of an external consultant who supports and helps each team according to their needs.

Teams could for example assume the role of "energy detectives" and look for wasted energy at university, document their findings and ask the competent authority for the reasons.

Presentation of results

The results should be presented and the experience gained discussed in groups. Reasons for and/or constraints on sustainability of striking examples are especially interesting and instructional.


No awards ceremony is intended. The teams compete with interesting, striking and entertaining presentations for the attention of their audience and competitors.

Documents, Material

An example of the introductory presentation is provided. The presentation consists of annotated slides. According to the topic of the competition, specific resources of related building blocks can be used (e.g. of the building block "Thermal energy").

Required hardware

The following devices might be required: thermal camera, flow meter, CO2 indicator, electricity meter

Contact details for borrowing physical devices
Learning Outcomes
- Purpose of sustainability
- Raise student awareness of (un)sustainable solutions
- Recognize obstacles of sustainable alternatives
Relevance for Sustainability
Students should actively look for striking examples of sustainability or non-sustainability in their everyday lives. They should then analyze their results and try to find out what hinders or drives sustainability.
Related Teaching Resources
    Preparation Efforts
    Sources and Links

    TV, Doku:

    "Uranbergbau birgt Krebsgefahr", nano, 3SAT, 2008 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLS24QB-CzA)

    "Atommüll: Endlager verzweifelt gesucht", Quarks&Co, WDR (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyElezLKnEc)

    "Erdoel: wie Ölkonzerne unser Klima killen", Doku, ARTE, 2011 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l5PsbC2owU)

    "Gasland", Doku by Jush Fox 2010 (shale gas extraction, - available on the internet)

    "Let's make money", Doku by Erwin Wagenhofer 2008 (greed of gain vs. sustainability)

    "We feed the world", Doku by Erwin Wagenhofer 2005 (Foodproduction)


    Related Building blocks (Sustainicum Plattform):

    Funded by
    Funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research within the framework of the call "Projekt MINT-Massenfächer" (2011/12)

    Comments Write Comment


    Mag. Dr. Robert Weger


    Robert Weger
    This teaching resource is allocated to following University:
    BOKU - University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna
    Firma Innovative Elektronik


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    • Mini-project