Biltmore Science: Lesson Plan

Learn about the sustainable energy that powers America's largest home, Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

UNC-TV Media

Alignment to NC Essential Standards

  • EEn.2.8.1 — Evaluate alternative energy technologies for use in North Carolina.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will evaluate the benefits, costs and environmental impact of various alternative energy sources.

Essential Questions

  1. What are three sources of alternative energy in North Carolina?
  2. What are the benefits of each of those sources?
  3. What are the challenges associated with each of those sources?


Students will view Energy Sources, which describes the benefits and challenges associated with a variety of non-sustainable and sustainable energy sources.


Students will gather information regarding three different types of alternative energy. They should address the following topics during their research process:

  • Name alternative energy sources.
  • How is the alternative energy produced?
  • What are the benefits of the alternative energy source?
  • What are the challenges of the alternative energy source?
  • Is the alternative energy source a realistic possibility in your area of North Carolina? Why or why not?

The websites below offer possible sources of information. There are many additional websites that students should find during their research. Remind students to check if a website has multiple pages or links to additional pages with information that they need.


After working on research individually the students will gather in small groups to address the following questions:

  1. Define and describe three alternative energy sources.
  2. Describe the production process for each source.
  3. Describe three benefits of each source.
  4. Describe three challenges associated with each source.
  5. Evaluate: what is the best alternative energy source in your area of North Carolina?


Students will view the NC Science Now video Biltmore Science to learn about the sustainable energy that plays a major role in powering the Biltmore Hotel in Asheville, NC. As they watch the segment students should focus on answering the following questions:

  1. Define the sustainable energy strategies George Vanderbilt designed for Biltmore.
  2. Describe the way in which the solar panels at Biltmore produce energy.
  3. Describe the production process for canola oil, and the ways in which it produces energy at Biltmore.


In the same small groups, students can write and produce a commercial or public service announcement that promotes one form of sustainable alternative energy, explaining why that energy source is better than the others.