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LEED® Lab™: Which Compliance Path is Best for Your University?

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Architectural Division Technical Session

Tagged Division

Architectural Engineering

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Paper Authors


Janet Fick Ball State University

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Janet Fick is an Instructor in the Construction Management program in Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning. She has taught in the areas of sustainability, immersive projects, AutoCAD/Revit and construction management for fifteen years. She is a Registered Architect and LEED AP with more than twenty years professional experience in the architecture, interior design and construction management fields.

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James W. Jones Ball State University

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Dr. James W. Jones is the Chair of the Department of Construction Management and Interior Design. He has taught in the areas of leadership and construction management for more than 15 years and has more than a decade of experience managing construction projects in both field and office environments.

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The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) created the LEED® Lab™ program, in collaboration with the Center for Green Schools, to offer higher educational institutions the opportunity to provide students with more comprehensive information about the LEED certification process. LEED Lab is currently offered at over twenty universities across the world, with many different class structures being followed. One method, as adopted by the authors of this paper, is to structure it as an interdisciplinary class with the focus on the actual certification of a campus building under LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance. Students study the current state of the building, including energy and water consumption, recycling rates, occupant satisfaction and transportation modes, green cleaning, and sustainable purchasing. They then make recommendations in these and other areas to implement improvements. During the performance period they track the changes to see if they result in any improvements.

Using this approach, a previous knowledge of LEED is not necessary, as the class begins each semester with an overview of LEED in general, and the university’s specific efforts in sustainability. This course focuses on LEED application, while another course in our curriculum focuses on LEED content. The students then begin researching a campus building that has previously been certified as either LEED for New Construction or LEED for Commercial Interiors. They work closely with the university’s Facilities Planning and Management department, from the Facilities Engineer and Building Services Supervisors, to the Purchasing department. However, when submitting a building for certification under LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance there are now two choices: the Standard compliance path and the new Arc platform.

The Standard compliance path, which is the same traditional credit based approach as the other LEED rating systems, is the same procedure the students will be using in their future careers when working on the LEED certification process. In the Fall of 2016 an alternative compliance path was introduced, the Arc platform. Arc, administered by Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI), is a digital platform that allows the students to interface in real time with the measurements of the building. A completely different approach, it utilizes different categories to those everyone is familiar with in LEED, but incorporates new technology into the certification process. Students can input information and check on the projects progress from the Arc app on their computer, iPad or smart phone. This paper examines how one institution evaluated both paths, to determine which was more beneficial for the student’s education and which was more appropriate for the successful completion of the LEED certification process. This paper details the advantages, challenges, and resources required to enable engineering educators and administrators to better understand and evaluate these two approaches. Through this examination of one program’s implementation of both paths, other engineering educators can decide whether the LEED Lab program might be a good fit for their campuses and if so, which path to compliance best fits their needs.

Fick, J., & Jones, J. W. (2018, June), LEED® Lab™: Which Compliance Path is Best for Your University? Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30758

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