LEED Lab in action: University of California, Santa Barbara

Published on: 
26 Mar 2015
Marie Laule

During the 2014-2015 academic year, 22 students from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) are participating in a multi-term LEED® Labcourse, working to certify UCSB's Student Resource Building (SRB) under EB: O+M. The team is led by Cassidy Green and Brandon Kaysen, both LEED APs and UCSB alumni, and includes a diverse array of undergraduate and graduate students from several disciplines at UCSB. These students have joined together to learn the ins-and-outs of LEED and to manage the certification of the SRB.  

Each student in the course is participating for the full school year, ensuring that each team member gets to experience the project from start to finish. The students collect data within the building to develop performance reports over time, present feasibility reports at stakeholder meetings, and participate in the final application process for LEED certification. Throughout this process, students learn about a variety of green building techniques while broadening their project management and communication skills. The experience gained through assignments that focus on sustainable development practices and LEED requirements will allow many students to take the LEED Green Associate or LEED AP exam at the culmination of the project in June 2015.  

One student said, “LEED Lab has extensively helped my understanding of the LEED certification process. Gaining experience with the program requirements and credit documentation of a real project is a lot more insightful when students do the work themselves, as opposed to just reading it out of the reference guide. LEED Lab has validated my interest in pursuing green building as a profession and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be involved in this unprecedented course at UCSB.”

Another commented, “What I enjoy most about LEED Lab is how interactive the course has been. It gave me the hands-on experience that’s been missing from my college education. The course has improved my understanding of the integrative process of certifying a building and has enhanced my interest in this field.”

This week marks the end of the project’s Performance Period. Here’s a look back at what the teams have done so far!

Members of the Materials and Resources team performing a waste stream audit, sorting through waste collected from the SRB. This team learned how implementation of effective purchasing policies and waste management policies can be a valuable asset to proper disposal and reduction of solid waste from a building.

Members of the Indoor Environmental Quality team perform an I-BEAM audit, to learn about basic functioning of the SRB’s air quality maintenance and HVAC systems. This team was able to go on a special tour of the SRB’s HVAC system on the roof with Jordan Sager, LEED Program Manager at UCSB.

Members of the Sustainable Sites team toured the building’s surrounding landscapes and found much to be proud of in terms of site management. Highlights from the tour included widespread use of reclaimed water for irrigation and this representative garden of native vegetation utilized by the historic Chumash Indian tribe. 

Student reception of the LEED Lab class at UCSB has been overwhelmingly positive, and they’ve described their experience in the course as educational, insightful, interactive, and unprecedented. Asked to reflect on their experience with the course thus far this year, students contributed the following comments:

  •  “It has been a fun, fulfilling, interactive process! I’m getting academic credit to gain real-world knowledge in a first-hand way.”
  •  “An awesome hands-on experience. It has given me valuable insight into how the certification process works from start to finish, including all the unexpected speed bumps along the way.”
  • “LEED Lab has increased my knowledge of the Green Building field and has opened my eyes to a really interesting and growing profession.”

LEED Lab is a multidisciplinary immersion course that utilizes the built environment to educate and prepare students to become green building leaders. In the course students assess the performance of existing facilities on campus and chose one building where they will facilitate the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (LEED EB:O&M) process with the goal of certifying the facility. At the close of the semester the students are prepared to sit for the LEED EB:O&M professional credential exam.

Do you know of a higher ed institution that would be a great fit for LEED Lab? To learn more visit LEED Lab. Under “How” the Welcome Packet and LEED Lab Timing Chart are available for download. To express interest please complete this form.