How Universities Can Build Sustainability into the Classroom and Campus
The core of sustainability in education is simple. Penn State’s Sustainability Institute defines it as, “Meeting the needs of the present while enhancing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Sustainability on today’s campuses is booming in two ways. First, it’s being taught in the classroom at an excitingly rapid pace. Second, universities are building their new facilities with sustainability and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) driven goals in mind.
With the unique opportunity to support sustainability twice over, we’ll discuss how by building sustainability into both the classroom and campus, universities can shape a better workforce and world.
Post-Graduation Direction for Students
As educators help students prepare for their path after graduation, many are pointing them towards the green wave that’s taking shape around the globe. The 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study says that the green building sector is outpacing overall construction growth in the United States and will account for more than 3.3 million jobs by 2018. Pair this with the labor shortage that most of us are already familiar with and the future looks bright for recent and future graduates that have construction on the mind, especially those that have a specialty in green and sustainable construction practices.
“Our research shows that green building has created millions of jobs and contributed hundreds of billions of dollars to the U.S. economy, with the construction of LEED-certified buildings accounting for about 40% of green construction’s overall contribution to GDP in 2015,” said David Erne, a Senior Associate at Booz Allen.
“This industry is certainly on the rise, and aggressive growth in the green building sector is anticipated over the next four years.”
Programs like the Center for Green Schools are a big part of this trajectory. Their mission states, “Through our educational resources, professional learning networks, and industry-recognized tools, we equip supporters to educate students about global sustainability and deepen learning by acting in their communities.” In programs like this, students are given a path to achieve sustainability and LEED certificates and participate in hands-on learning labs that empower educators and students to bring sustainability to life through their classroom offerings. If you want to learn how to pair your sustainability efforts with cutting edge construction technology, download our ebook titled “Constructed Campus” now.
If you’re looking for an option to give your students a head start in sustainability, consider hosting a LEED Lab on your campus. The LEED Lab is an immersion course built to educate and prepare students to become green building leaders and sustainability-focused citizens. The course has students assessing the performance of existing facilities on your campus. They will also choose a building on campus where they will facilitate the LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance (LEED AP O+M) process, with a goal of certifying the facility when they are done. This will also prepare them to take the LEED AP O+M credential exam once the course is complete.
Campuses Are Choosing Sustainability
The wave of green-focused education isn’t limited to the classroom. Many progressive universities are choosing to build their new facilities and retrofit the existing ones with a sustainable framework. For example, Cornell University has required all new construction valued above $5 million to obtain LEED silver certification or higher. Cornel now has eight LEED Gold and one LEED Platinum facilities, as well as two interior Gold certifications for building renovations. These are all steps towards Cornell’s goal of reducing their carbon emissions to net zero by the year 2050 (or sooner).
If this type of innovation has your attention, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) will help you get started by conducting a campus assessment. Their assessments provide educators a chance to learn more about sustainability initiatives, share new programs that are available and discuss how they might meet your sustainability goals. If this is up your alley, contact them directly to start an assessment.
Build Better (and Greener) With Technology
While many universities across the globe are building out a Climate Action Plan (CAP), some campuses are still struggling to navigate the everyday challenges present on campus. This is where construction technology can help.
Today’s campuses face an array of challenges ranging from student safety on campus to maintaining aging facilities that are in dire need of renovation, to the construction of new facilities to accommodate an influx of students. Nevertheless, through more efficient designs and innovative construction processes, higher education entities can better support learning Fortunately, we’ve put together an ebook that will help education leaders choose the right tools to:
- Scale university-provided services in parallel with university growth
- Provide visibility into facility and campus data
- Meet tight construction deadlines
- Minimize disruption to campus during construction
- Ensure the safety of their students and faculty on campus
- Build legacy facilities that will provide for years
- Create a positive reputation for your institution
Don’t wait to get started building tomorrow’s campuses faster, efficiently and sustainably. Download the ebook now.
The Future of Sustainability in Education
The future of sustainability in education and beyond sits with the students on your campuses. Given the right amount of resources, a sustainably built campus and a true passion for building–there is much opportunity to take advantage of. If you have a student that wants to take the next step, recommend that they join the global USGBC Students community. This will give them a platform to focus on creating a sustainable future.