Community Green: Building valuable skills for high-impact careers

Published on: 
3 Aug 2015
Josh Lasky

Community Green was launched by USGBC in 2012 to engage community colleges and help prepare students for careers in the sustainability field. The program connects two-year institutions with industry-leading green building education materials, equipping students to become qualified candidates for jobs in the green economy. The program has thrived over the past three years, thanks to generous support from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, which underwrites access to learning resources and the ability to sit for LEED credentialing exams at no cost. To date, Community Green has provided more than 1,000 students at 22 community colleges with green building and sustainability education resources. More than 200 students have successfully earned a LEED credential with support from Community Green.

“I ask that all of my team members here at Mode acquire a LEED credential and certainly look for it when recruiting and hiring,” said Stacey White, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, principal of Mode Associates. “The credential, to me, represents a commitment to the environment and to the profession. Those that hold and maintain the appropriate LEED credential, I know have the tested technical competency, comprehensive project understanding, and environmental leadership potential that a firm like mine needs to successfully guide our clients and design projects that perform to the highest level."

A 2011 McGraw-Hill study conveyed that 71 percent of hiring managers agree that a credential like the LEED Green Associate or LEED AP gives applicants a competitive advantage in the hiring process. Of more than 1,400 LEED APs surveyed, 80 percent agree that earning a LEED credential increases their chances of employment.

Clayton Moses Audi, a graduate of Pasadena City College, was a 2014 Greenbuild Scholarship recipient and recently attended USGBC Convergence as a volunteer with the USGBC Los Angeles Chapter. “With the help of Community Green, I got access to material I needed to study for and pass the LEED Green Associate exam,” said Clayton. “The support offered through Community Green proved both useful and necessary when I needed it most. I would not have succeeded without the help.”

Clayton Moses Audi with Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair of USGBC, at Convergence

Community Green works directly with a network of about 35 faculty at community colleges across the country to distribute learning materials. “Having access to take the LEED Green Associate exam at no cost has meant a great deal to students who otherwise would not have been able to afford it,” said John Wojciechowski, AIA, LEED AP, CEA, an instructor at Cape Fear Community College (CFCC). “It’s exciting to me whenever any student earns the LEED Green Associate credential. It validates their hard work in the classroom and gives them the confidence to bring those skills to their workplace.” To date, all of John’s students at CFCC who have taken the LEED Green Associate exam have passed.

The program is served by a series of volunteer National Chairs across the country who work with community college faculty to distribute benefits. Stephenie Presseller, sustainability manager at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, has been a Community Green National Chair since the program launched in 2012. “I recognized its potential to leverage the existing successful workforce development efforts of community colleges to further drive the growth of the green economy,” said Presseller. “Since my involvement in the program, I’ve seen a tremendous improvement in the quality of educational resources we provide to faculty and students at community colleges. Better materials make for better learning outcomes, and the students we are able to support through Community Green are better positioned to secure jobs in the sustainability world.”

Learn more about Community Green