LEED Lab sets the course for campus EB:O+M certification | U.S. Green Building Council
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Posted in LEED
Published on
Written by
Posted in LEED

Over the past year, USGBC and GBCI have collaborated with The Catholic University of America (CUA) on a pilot interdisciplinary studio -- coined the LEED Lab. The goal of this collaboration was to test a course concept where students are engaged in and facilitating LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance on campus. Faculty partner Patricia Andrasik shares her thoughts on the experience.

The field of sustainable architecture is evolving, and architects, designers and owners are each measuring sustainable benefits in terms of their impact on human health, environment and cost implications. The performance of a building is becoming not only a requirement in assessing sustainable building design, but also in evaluating post-design to document the effect of sustainability measures (and lack thereof).

How can we teach this skill to students of higher education?

LEED Lab is a college course open to both CUA undergraduates and graduates, and is aimed at training student architects to meet current market needs while also engaging sustainability programs within the university. Students learn how to integrate sustainability into the building life cycle, while being given opportunities to apply research to practice. 

Through a carefully-structured Sustainable Design curriculum, members of the faculty and administration are using LEED Lab to help achieve the first LEED EB:O&M certification for the school’s home base, the Crough Center, with a future goal of continuing the process on other campus facilities. This facility is aiming to be the first in the nation to be certified completely by students as part of a studio course.

The goals of the LEED Lab benefit both students and the campus:

  1. The class creates a platform for direct student collaboration with USGBC, GBCI, CUA facilities and other campus schools and departments. Most notable is that GBCI will provide feedback and access to LEED reviewers as would be provided for a genuine project. In addition, GBCI will also perform a live review of the LEED final project submission in a forum that engages the student team.
  2. Experience gained from this course qualifies as a prerequisite for both the LEED Green Associate and LEED AP exams, meeting market demand for young professionals.
  3. The course also creates a platform to engage national building performance benchmarking codes on existing buildings and creates a “continuous process of systematically evaluating the performance and/or effectiveness of one or more aspects of buildings in relation to issues” such as cost-effectiveness, functionality, and sustainability. Learn more.
  4. The course creates a mechanism to engage students and drive campus sustainability efforts that focus on the existing built environment. As students learn to organize and serve as facilitators in charrettes, they will educate university administrators and operations staff members about policy revisions that embrace greater sustainability goals. Their work will raise an awareness of inefficiencies on campus which will assist the University in its mission of greater sustainable stewardship. 

Each LEED Lab course builds upon the other; students use the previous class’ work in documentation, tracking and metering until certification is met. For example, after determining through simulation and actual meter readings in our summer course that our daylighting potential was sufficient without the antiquated mercury halide fixtures in the main studio spaces, students in the fall course prompted the installation of an automatic shut-off switch from 8 am to 3 pm as the “lights off” program. This simple strategy has reduced energy use in the building by approximately 20 percent.

As LEED Lab evolves, CUA and the Center for Green Schools at USGBC are striving to create a model LEED Lab course that could be taught at other universities. CUA's School of Architecture and Planning and the facilities department will continue to develop a process for operations and maintenance tracking that will be incorporated into LEED Lab.

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Total 14 commentsLeave a comment

Architect, IDIEM Universidad de Chile
We are very interested in implementing LEED Lab in Chile. I have already sent the expression of interest form. I am waiting for someone to contact me.
Director of LEED Support, U.S. Green Building Council
Great Maria - I'll make sure it's in the works!
CEO, Revitaliza Consultores
We are very eager to start implementing this program in Mexico, we have lots of experience with EB buildings. Please let me know where do we sing up? Who do we contact?
Director of LEED Support, U.S. Green Building Council
Great Alicia! We'll have somebody reach out to you offline...
LEED Consultant for Existing Buildings, Building Evolution Strategies
Patricia and/or Lisa, Has the LEEDlab website been launched yet? If so, can you forward or post the link? Also, is there direct support from USGBC in terms of guidance or collaboration ?
Director of LEED Support, U.S. Green Building Council
Hi Peter - Yes the LEED Lab has a new web presence: http://www.centerforgreenschools.org/leedlab.aspx. I'll have someone reach out to you offline, regarding direct support. Thanks! MRS
Faculty and Director, Green Building Learning Collaborative, University of Florida
Pro Reviewer
LEED Lab seems to be a great opportunity for student learning. I know that CUA and CSU have started. look forward to collaborate in sharing info and lessons learned. We at University of Florida College of Design Construction and Planning are offering/hosting LEED Lab on our campus this fall of 2014. I will update on our progress. I spend most of this summer planning for the course. I am excited for this new course offering.
Regional Chair- Central, North, and Gulf Coast Florida, USGBC Students
I recently attended the Mid Year Meeting in Detroit and heard some great things about this program. Alexa Stone had forwarded this information to me several weeks ago and I pitched the basics of program successfully to several faculty members at a college here in Central Florida. However, I need help in selling this to the college administrators. What type of support can USGBC provide locally. I can setup a meeting with the right people, but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of the program, I will need the support from someone that will be able to answer the questions and are able to provide proven results for the program.
Technical Solutions, U.S. Green Building Council
We do have updates to this story! We have three current LEED Labs in process one at The Catholic University of America, one at Colorado State University - Pueblo, and one at Purdue University. See this page on our Center for Green Schools site for more information: www.centerforgreenschools.org/leedlab.aspx
President, ecoPreserve - Building Sustainability
How do we sign up?
Technical Solutions, U.S. Green Building Council
We will reach out and schedule a meeting with you to discuss next steps.
Assistant Professor + Head of Sustainability Outreach, The Catholic University of America
USGBC is developing official LEEDlab online tools which facilitate the LEEDlab EB:O&M Certification process, and suggest a phasing of the course. This December, CUA is launching a website which documents our LEEDlab pilot as a research forum for other universities, and will include syllabi, sample projects, and documentation of our process.
Territory Manager, Viridian
Are there any updates to this story? When might the curriculum be available to guide this same type of program on another campus?
Real Estate Sustainability Lead, Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

So good to see this effort to teach designers to look at the long term sustainability of facilities. This is exactly what we need!

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