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Student Construction Sustainability Evaluations: A LEED Lab Case Study

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Construction Engineering Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Construction Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Jeyoung Woo P.E. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

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Dr. Jeyoung Woo is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona). He is a registered Professional Engineer (Civil - Construction) in Texas. He has worked in the industry for nine years as a project manager, a corporate quality manager, a field engineer, and a designer. Also, he conducted several research projects about construction labor productivity, construction safety, engineering design quality management, and construction sustainability. He earned a Ph.D. and an M.S. in Civil Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) and a B.S. in Architectural Engineering from Hanyang University, ERICA. He is a Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI).

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Hyun Woo Kim Incheon National University

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Dr. Kim received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University, USA in 2015. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban Policy and Administration at Incheon National University, in which he has taught since 2017. His research interests include urban flood management, low impact development, green infrastructure planning, sustainability rating system, and environmental plan assessment.

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Elaine Rawley Goetz Ohio University Office of Sustainability

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Elaine Goetz is the Director of Sustainability at Ohio University. She has a PhD in Civil Engineering and is a LEED AP O&M. Elaine taught a Sustainable Construction course at Ohio University, a precursor to the LEED Lab course, in the spring of 2018.

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Construction sustainability involves processes, decisions, and actions during a project life cycle to enhance the project’s social, economic, and environmental performance. Much of the existing guidance available to practitioners focuses on planning and execution utilizing a sustainability framework such as the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). As the demand for sustainability is increasing, universities are offering courses about construction sustainability to educate future professionals and provide hands-on experience to prepare them for their careers. In response to this trend, the USGBC developed a module called LEED Lab, and encouraged its adoption for university construction sustainability courses. The LEED Lab is used by students to evaluate the existing on-campus buildings’ sustainability performances. Their evaluation is reviewed by experts for a final LEED certification. The primary objectives of this study are: 1) introduce the LEED Lab, 2) describe a course that adapted the LEED Lab to an actual case, and 3) share lessons learned, including student feedback. At the beginning of the semester, a university building was selected and fundamental information, such as drawings and energy consumption data, were collected. Then, students analyzed the building’s sustainability performances, following the eight categories of LEED v4 for Building Operations and Maintenance (LEED O+M): (1) Location and Transportation (LT), (2) Sustainable Sites (SS), (3) Water Efficiency (WE), (4) Energy and Atmosphere (EA), (5) Materials and Resources (MR), (6) Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ), (7) Innovation (IN), and (8) Regional Priority (RP). Throughout the semester, students learned the concept of sustainability and the requirements for each category before they evaluated the sustainability performance of the assigned building. The final students’ evaluations from the LEED Lab course were based on the collective activities of diverse students. Students providing feedback on this course reported that the hands-on project experience improved their understanding of construction sustainability. Moreover, students mentioned that additional time was needed to complete the project and suggested that the course should be expanded to two semesters. Greater access to data about facility operations and maintenance was also requested. This study contributes to a better understanding of how to introduce the USGBC’s LEED Lab module into a course study and how to effectively adapt the module to educate future professionals in the discipline of construction sustainability.

Woo, J., & Kim, H. W., & Goetz, E. R. (2020, June), Student Construction Sustainability Evaluations: A LEED Lab Case Study Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35223

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