Guest blog by Mark Maxwell, Assistant Director of Construction & LEED Coordinator, and Design & Construction at the University of California, Merced, where he leads LEED Lab (LINK: http://engineeringservicelearning.ucmerced.edu/team-leed-lab).
LEED Lab is a post-secondary course that uses the built environment to educate and prepare students to become green building leaders by learning how to reduce the environmental impacts of buildings. In the course, students facilitate the LEED for Existing Buildings, Operations & Maintenance process with the goal of certifying a new facility each year. Completing the LEED Lab course will give students the skills, knowledge and expertise to manage future certifications and other projects in sustainability. Students who attend and pass this course will also be positioned to sit for the professional certification exams to earn their LEED Green Associates (LEED GA) & LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP). This course also provides the study guide and practice exams for the LEED Green Associates exam.
At UC Merced, LEED Lab started in the fall of 2015 and allows for a maximum of 15 students under Engineering for Service Learning, bringing together students from all grade levels and disciplines. Each semester has a new group of students, so making a clear hand off of materials and projects timeline from the first semester to the second is crucial for the project’s success.
In the first semester, stakeholders from various departments were identified (purchasing, energy, recycling, custodial etc.), since students will be collecting and gathering data from these departments. After the students met with the stakeholders, they broke up into three teams and each team was assigned a credit category or categories. Some categories are much easier than others, so some teams could take on more.
Next, the teams read all the credits in their categories to determine which credits they were going to pursue. They then developed a scorecard for the project of the credits the class was pursing, to come up with the total number of points and certification level they could achieve. I then gave a 15 minute presentation on LEED Online. This presentation explained how to access LEED Online, once they registered with the US Green Building Council and navigate through documenting credits.
FInally, each team was assigned to put together credit summaries for the next semester class, which allowed the team members to have a basic understanding of every credit the team was going to pursue. Each credit summary would have the name of the credit, the intent, possible points, list of implementations, timeline for documentation, the stakeholder and contact information to coordinate with for data collection and other pertinent information to help the team member document the credit.
The second semester teams read all the credit summaries and decided when the three month performance period would be so that they could begin to document the credits. Once the performance period started, students began contacting and working with the stakeholders to collect data. Students documented their credits to LEED Online as they were completed.
Some of the measurable benefits from this class are LEED Certification, lower operating costs, more healthy and productive working environment, reduced waste sent to the landfills, energy and water conservation, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and educating the students and community.
After talking with several students about the class, they felt they had a broader knowledge of sustainability and the built environment. Once student told me that he got an internship at Fritto Lay, because of this class that he took. This class really engaged different majors and not just ones they would typically take an engineering class. When I asked several students who were majoring in History, English or Economics, why they took this class, they said because we want to learn more about sustainability.
If you think about it, sustainability touches on everything we do as well as every major. Not just buildings, but how we operate buildings our lives and the day to day things we do that impact our environment.
If you are interested in volunteering or supporting LEED Lab at UC Merced, please contact USGBC Central California firstname.lastname@example.org.