Takeaways from LEED GA Training

Last week a group of MBA students were given the opportunity to participate in a LEED Green Associate training by Leading Green. Many jumped at the chance to gain new skills and enhance their resume. I wanted to take a minute to share our experiences and explain why LEED is important.

What is LEED and why is it important?

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a rating system for green buildings created by the US Green Building Council. It can be used on all types of construction and provides a framework for healthy, efficient, and sustainable buildings. It is globally recognized and highly marketable, increasing the value of the building. LEED standards develop and grow over time and are approved by professionals within the industry.

It is important to note that a building can be LEED certified, but people can be accredited. The training we participated in was for the LEED GA accreditation. This is the foundational level of accreditation, which gives individuals an up to date understanding of green building practices.  Once you have earned your LEED GA, you can earn your LEED AP (advanced professional) and focus on a specific area within the rating system.

Attendee Reflections

I asked my fellow classmates to reflect on why they took this training and what they got out of it. A selection of their answers are below:

What are your professional goals?

Ian LeClair: I want to work in tech sector working on smart tech to improve energy efficiencies for large companies.

Rachael Caravone: I hope to work in an organization where I can help create solutions to make cities more livable. This requires a holistic view of energy, water, transportation, land use, and the built environment. Obtaining my LEED GA would give me another tool, and a better understanding of how systems thinking and sustainability in our buildings can help improve the livability in cities.

Aaron Bush: I’m currently exploring project management and consulting roles in renewable energy and the built environment. Having a strong understanding of LEED and other industry-leading practices or certifications will allow me to communicate more effectively across disciplines as well as take the lead on projects that involve construction and design.

Timothy Cohalan: My professional goal is to leverage the built environment to build community through sustainable real estate development.

Why were you interested in getting your LEED GA?

AB: The LEED Green Associate training and certification acts as a stamp showing my knowledge in a specific category. My experience in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices at the University of Oregon has provided a broad background on triple-bottom-line thinking, as well as factors influencing business behavior. However, because student interests are quiet broad, and sustainability every business category, the MBA program typically does not provide in-depth training or course material on individual topics. As a LEED Green Associate, I will have both broad knowledge and specific skills.

TC: The built environment is where most people spend the majority of their time.  It is also one of the largest consumers of energy and emitters of Green House Gases. Our building generally live longer lives then we do. That is why it is so important to get things right the first time.  As someone interested in shaping how we interact with our environment I want to make sure I am doing it the best way possible.  Getting my LEED GA accreditation is a great way to build my understanding of one of the most common pathway for that worldwide.

What piece of the training did you find most valuable?

IL: Being able to see how the training would fit into a future job workflow.

RC: I appreciated how the LEED certification process is tailored to the type of building or use, and the owner/developer can choose the options most relevant to their area or situation to gain points towards LEED certification. I was also pleasantly surprised about the evolution and updates made to the certification process.

AB: My view of LEED has always been that it is a certification centered around making buildings more energy efficient. I now understand that it is both wholistic and focused at the same time. LEED certification considers not only a building’s energy consumption, but also its ability to integrate with the greater environment and promote human wellbeing. For example, developers pursuing LEED are incentivized to build close to public transit and provide alternative modes of transportation. They get points for maintaining or improving nearby wetlands or other natural features. LEED takes into account human health by requiring proper ventilation and air quality. A LEED building is not just better for the environment, it is better for people.

TC: While I was familiar with the concepts of green building in general the training did an excellent job explaining how LEED breaks them down into categories and which categories were most emphasized.

What are your next steps in learning about the built environment?

RC: I would like to learn more about the LEED for Neighborhood Development certification too see how the process works for an entire community.

TC: As I continue in my career in real estate development I will look to industry leaders in green building for best practices. I will also learn more from the architects and contractors that I collaborate with.

Any other takeaways or pieces you would like to add?

AB: Our instructor, Lorne, explained that LEED is voluntary and typically surpasses standards set by local governments or typical industry practices. While LEED buildings often provide increased returns and higher market value compared to conventional buildings, they are still not the default option. I see huge opportunities to continue increasing best-practices and incorporate many of the most valuable lessons from LEED into a broader societal conversation about the built environment.

 

Written by Llyswen Berna

Llyswen is a 2018 MBA from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. She is a motivated individual with extensive leadership experience and a passion for sustainability. Most recently, she worked on the quality assurance team at Epic, a top healthcare software company. Before that, she was an AmeriCorps volunteer, where she advised low-income students about getting into and through college. At Oregon, Llyswen plans to build on her skills in project management and sustainable business practices. After graduation, she’s interested in consulting with companies and nonprofits to develop sustainable business strategies.