USGBC is in the process of gathering representatives of local colleges and universities to discuss launching an Emerging Green Builders program (EGB). This might be independent of schools, targeting students from all Pierce County, or it may even be a club on some campuses.
As some may know, the LEED system just went through a major overhaul. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building standard set by the USGBC. In any LEED project, there needs to be a USGBC recognized LEED Accredited Professional on staff. These people guide a collaboritve building group to get credits in 6 categories; Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation and Design.
In the past, the LEED rating was criticized by how “easy” it was to become accredited, and by the sometimes weak bars set to be considered a green building. For example, a building could be LEED Silver without ever addressing energy issues. By meeting credits in other categories, a building can be a “green” building, plaque and all, wasting more energy that any other of its peers.
However, with the new upgrade LEED AP’s are only being accredited in they have experience directly working with LEED. Anyone can take an exam to become a Green Associate, which does carry some clout in the field of going green, but full LEED AP status is reserved for Green Associates who have actually worked with a project. With more experienced LEED AP’s managing projects, more innovation can take place in green buildings. In addition, some credits have been altered so that the bar is raised. Every LEED building must attain at least 2 credits for the Category of Energy and Atmosphere.
With all this background, here are my thoughts:
Fact. PLU cares deeply about their environmental impact and would love to get some existing buildings certified as LEED Operations and Maintenance (OM). Yet, money and limits on staff time are holding us back.
Fact. The job market is pretty crappy right now, and if you are looking to go into a field with anything to do with buildings, going green, or saving money, you better have some credentials. Some letters behind your name.
So… if students are looking for a way to get the jump in teh career market, and PLU is trying to get some more LEED buildings, don’t you think there is a relationship to be had here? Do you think that a Emerging Green Builders group may be able to provide paid internships, or resources, for students you want to give back to their school, but still give back to themselves?
I think its an idea worth looking into.