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11/19/16, 8am - Monday, 11/21, 5pm
Center for Architecture

ARE Building Systems Prep Course

(The Amber Seminar)

AIA New York


Join us for a three-day class to prepare those intending to take the Architect Registration Examination (ARE)


The class is everything most candidates will need to study for the ARE 4.0 Building Systems section.


The class also covers significant content for ARE 5.0

Project Planning & Design


Project Development and Documentation divisions

(and some content useful for Programming & Analysis and Construction & Evaluation)


In addition to base content, the program includes a group session dedicated to practicing the vignette (needed for ARE 4.0 candidates only) and the instructor’s study guide, ARE Building Systems Study Guide and Practice Exam: The Amber Book.



For more information, go to


For past participant reviews, go to one of the ARE forums or groups and search for the word “Amber” or visit and scroll down.



Day 1: Thermal comfort, psychrometrics, heat transfer, thermal resistance*, infiltration and ventilation, climate, solar geometry, passive heating, active heating, passive cooling, air conditioning*, air distribution*, HVAC concepts*, overall strategies for studying, practice exam.

Day 2: plumbing*, power*, electric lighting*, air quality, daylighting, electric lighting*,practice exam, the difference between ARE 4.0 and ARE 5.0.

Day 3: Vignette group practice*, LEED, room acoustics, noise control, life safety, codes, acoustics, practice exam.

* =in-depth coverage of a topic



November 19-21, 2016; Saturday, Sunday, and Monday 8 to 5


Instructor Bio

Michael Ermann is a tenured associate professor at Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture + Design, where he teaches design studio, environmental building systems, and architectural acoustics. He’s taught the building systems course sequence covering energy, passive thermal, mechanical systems, lighting, acoustics, thermal comfort, air quality, electricity, and plumbing for 23 of the last 26 semesters. Professor Ermann has authored or co-authored eight journal papers in the field of acoustics, and presented more than 20 papers on building systems.  He authored the just-released book, Architectural Acoustics Illustrated (Wiley, 2015), is the former Undergraduate Architecture Program Co-chairman, and has earned design, teaching, research, and outreach awards for his work.


Prior to joining the VT faculty Professor Ermann was an acoustical consultant in New York City and Florida.  He received a bachelor of science in mathematics from Tulane University and a master of architecture degree from the University of Florida. He has completed the (current) 4.0 version of the Building Systems and BDCS ARE and enjoys hosting ARE Building Systems and BDCS prep courses for those in practice.



Your class was for me certainly the key to passing. I think your explanations of the refrigeration cycle, heat loss and gain, and electrical matters generally (lamp types specifically) were breakthroughs for me in a mass of material that – of all the sections – was least familiar. I also appreciated your insistent emphasis on energy efficiency and new technologies/approached across all of the disciplines. I taught (history of architecture) for some years and have a special appreciation for what it takes – you are an exceptional teacherDerek Moore

I just received the good news and am very giddy. PASS! Thanks so much for you informative class and one-of-a kind teaching style. I’ll recommend your class to anyone who will listen.Shannon Brown

Many thanks for your insightful, engaging, confidence-building, and not to mention, informative, seminar. Using real-world examples for context and the role-playing we did to understand the counter-intuitive concepts of HVAC and electrical was key. Things finally “clicked.” I wish I could go back to school and take one of your courses for a semester!Jennifer Gurney

I have passed and it was my final exam!!!  It took me 4 years, while working full time and had two children in the meantime.  So, the feeling is great as you can imagine!  I found your course to extremely helpful and pretty much fundamental to my passing. I enjoyed it very much and felt confident when I went in. –Clementina Ruggieri

Your seminar ROCKS! It’s amazing how you can explain everything in such simple way.  I highly recommended it to all my friends and colleagues that are going through the same process. . . . [later]. . . ]m Just got my pass letter yesterday.  I am glad that I took your seminar, which really was the best thing I did to prepare for this exam.Fang Kuei-Chen

I took the exam yesterday, and I think it went well. Thank you for the wonderful sessions this past weekend- your explanations were extremely helpful and I felt that the class as a whole was fantastic and exactly what I needed. Again, your class was priceless for me. I wish I lived closer to VT so I could sign up for some of your classes, as I find the material extremely interesting, and the way you teach it makes me want to learn more (I am even conducting an experiment with a container of water sitting on top of our refrigerator…measuring how much water evaporates each day-I’m having a blast!)Ismini Naos

I did PASS!! 
This was my 4th time taking BS – What a relief – as it was my last exam.  I am now licensed in New York! In my opinion, your seminar was excellent in that it focused on drilling the main concepts behind BS and not the misc. details of the very broad subject matter.  I only wish I was fortunate enough to have studied BS from your perspective as a student.  Many thanks again for your seminar!  I left feeling empowered to do better work, and push the boundaries that so much of the Industry seems “stuck” in.Andrea Zaff

I have to tell you, your course was instrumental in passing, and not just for BS.I am not a good test taker, never have been, and your course helped me get past the “impending” test and focus the material we were covering.Once I stopped trying to pass a test and start trying to be a competent architect I started retaining the information.I am grateful . . .and the 2 other guys in our office who are not licensed yet will be hounded by me until they take your course—Ben Jones

Website and Videos

You can learn more at the website, You can also view the videos he’s posted to explain air conditioning, room acoustics, plumbing, thermal resistance, electric lighting, electricity, roofs, wood, steel, concrete and stone to those studying for the exam. Search YouTube for “professorermann


11/19/16, 8am - Monday, 11/21, 5pm
Center for Architecture
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