Do college students know what LEED is? No, but they know what sustainability is. Sustainability is the hottest word on college campuses across the country. It has been proclaimed by administrators, professors and students. College students probably hear the word “sustainability” more often than they hear the word “party.”
If you’ve become worried about society, or this young generation that will soon take over, you should stop worrying. College students have actually become very interested in sustainability and green building. They may not necessarily be informed about LEED, but they understand the overall concept.
Trickle Down Theory: From LEED AP to administrators to students
Elaine Durr, a LEED AP, is guiding Elon University through its endeavors to become more environmentally sustainable. President Leo Lambert created the Environmental Advisory Council with faculty, staff and student representation in 2006. Since then, the campus has undergone dramatic changes.
Lindner Hall is the newest, and greenest, building on campus. It is pursuing LEED Silver Certification from the USGBC. The building will have solar photovoltaic panels on the roof, as well as a solar water heating system. The energy created by these systems will be used in the building and reduce the need for fossil fuel-based energy.
Students have adopted two sustainability competitions — RecycleMania and POWERless. Over a 10-week period, U.S. campuses compete in different RecycleMania contests to see which institution can collect the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita or have the highest recycling rate. POWERless is an energy competition among the residence halls to increase energy conservation awareness. Students compete to reduce the energy use in their building, based on baseline power consumption. The winner is the building with the largest percentage of energy reduction over the course of the competition.
In terms of dining, Elon recently eliminated trays in its dining halls. In 2007, ARAMARK, Elon’s Dining Services provider, conducted a survey of 186,000 meals at 25 colleges and universities (Elon included). They found a 25 to 30 percent reduction in food waste per person on tray-less days.
Why college students should be interested in LEED certification
For the most part, these changes have been mandated by Elon University and its administrators. While sustainability has become a large issue, LEED certification has not reached its maximum potential. With new green buildings like Lindner Hall, college students are more likely to learn about LEED certification.
College students should no longer be associated with excessive partying. This young generation has become very concerned about its environment, news and politics and professional advancement. LEED certification should be targeted toward college students because they understand that they are responsible for changing and improving the world as we know it. They want, and enjoy having, this responsibility.
According to EduinReview, more than 80 percent of recent college graduates did not have a job waiting for them in June 2009. Many college graduates are continuing their education not only to prolong the recession-wide job search, but also to gain higher credentials. After years of tests and classes, why shouldn’t college students take advantage of all that LEED certification has to offer them? LEED certification has become the most widely-accepted accreditation for environmental design and green building certification.
Obtaining LEED certification should not be a difficult task for college students, especially if universities offer environmental sustainability courses for undergraduates. From there, a student may enroll in a LEED exam prep course by contacting Everblue Training Institute. Once the student completes Everblue’s two-day course, he or she will be ready to take the LEED exam. Upon passage of the exam, the student can add LEED Green Associate to his or her qualifications.
This designation is a valuable and marketable credential to have. Some employers need a LEED-certified person on staff in order to be eligible to complete specific green-building projects. LEED certification gives someone a knowledgeable advantage. With this economy, recent college graduates need all the advantages they can get!
What other universities are implementing sustainable practices or LEED certification courses? We’d like to know. Let us know in a comment.