Resource efficient design and construction, i.e. doing more with less, contributes to decreasing the negative environmental implications of resource consumption. However, the environmental effects of buildings arise from the combination of many design and management decisions, and good environmental design and construction can avoid more than just the damage that flows from resource use. It is therefore important that students of building professions learn how the many decisions they make can help create ecology sustaining buildings, and this awareness begins in the classroom. This paper proposes a model for teaching and learning environmental literacy for tertiary students of building professions. It also argues that, in comparison with a well recognized theory for language learning, some of the conditions required for learning environmental literacy may not be present in Australian tertiary institutions. This work was commissioned for the Australian Council of Building Design Professions for the Environment Design Guide and funded by EcoRecycle Victoria.