Skill Development To Ensure Green Buildings

The need of the hour, structured education to fill gaps in the skilled labor market

In India, the future of building is exciting. Given trends in population migration – by 2030, India’s urban centers are expected to contain 40%of the country’s population, up from 31% today- many buildings will need to be constructed, and many more retrofitted. Consensus is that, to better manage consumption of resources and mitigate impacts on the environment and human health, it is best to do this work properly and sustainably. With that outcome in mind,the Indian government, under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, is pursuing an aggressive green building agenda. One challenge that this effort already faces is a shortage of workers with the education and experience required to properly implement green projects.The need of the hour, therefore, seems to be a structured education platform to help fill gaps in the skilled labor market. Towards this end, one initiative that is receiving meaningful attention is LEED Lab, a multidisciplinary immersion course that utilizes the built environment to educate and prepare college-level students to become green building leaders and sustainability-focused citizens.

How does LEED Lab work?

Before LEED Lab was introduced, sustainable building was simply taught like other architecture or building courses. Faculty had students work from a project checklist, read the green building requirements, and re-view project case studies. The approach was entirely theoretical, focusing on green building’s fundamentals involving energy, water, waste, indoor environment, and impact on land. With LEED Lab, the objective was not only to teach comprehensive theory, but also to provide students with practical, hands-on work experience.

Using the globally recognized LEED rating system as a foundation, LEED Lab takes a very unique approach,about prerequisites and credits related to energy use,water consumption, waste management, and occupant comfort. They learn how to evaluate the project’s impact on surrounding land and eco-systems. This is very thorough theoretical instruction.

But LEED Labs break new ground in how to bring hands-on LEED project experience into the instruction.It requires students to assess the performance of the existing campus facilities and then to select one building on which they will implement an actual LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance project. During the course, students work together as a project team, with the ultimate goal of certifying that structure. And if anon campus project is not an option, there is an opportunity to partner with an off campus building owner who is interested in LEED certification. 

Preparing students to drive green buildings in the coming times.

 Most students today are still learning in much the same way they did some twenty or thirty years ago. LEED Lab is developed in partnership with higher education institutions with the understanding that as far as employers are concerned, they care less about a student’s degree and more about what that student can do based on a combination of knowledge or classroom learning,and relevant hands-on experience. When students complete the LEED Lab course, they leave with that blend of highly marketable experience. Feedback from graduates is that the course is giving them a distinct advantage in the job market – and they are being hired, with a few of them even reporting that they quickly became their firm’s green building lead.

According to Mc Graw Hill’s 2016 Smart Market Re-port on World Green Building Trends, the global green building industry is enjoying an incredible growth spurt.Today, 28% of the world’s architects, engineers, contractors, building owners and building consultants are developing at least 60% of their projects to green-building standards. That 28% figure more than doubles 2009’s comparable figure of 13%. Of greater significance, expectations are for the number to nearly double again, to 51%, over the next three years. And with the Smart City initiative leading the way, India is one of the top countries for this push. So, the work is there. 

LEED Lab provides a real solution to educate a work-force to meet today’s evolving building needs, a work-force that will help the nation address some of its most serious environmental issues involving energy, water,materials and air. In other words, LEED Lab is a very timely and very important course.

This article was published in BW Education issue dated 'April 7, 2017' with cover story titled 'BW Education Inaugural Issue April-May 2017'

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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