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With help from the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Center for Green Schools, EcoRise has created a first-of-its-kind, new curricular program for high school students, “LEED® Prep: Green Building Lessons for a Sustainable Future.” As the field of green building undergoes explosive growth, this course helps prepare students to enter a workforce with sought-after skills and experience. Also, because LEED is a global green building rating system, students with LEED credentials have skills that are in demand internationally. LEED Prep helps high school students develop a sustainability mindset, one project at a time.

In this course, students delve into what sustainability means to them personally and what it means for the built environment. With hands-on activities and group projects, students examine practical aspects of green building, such as net-zero energy, sustainably sourced materials, and healthy air quality. They also practice designing green building components, such as sustainable landscapes and efficient water systems.

The program includes 42 lessons for 9th through 12th grades. In this piece, the authors of LEED Prep share how this program helps students develop a sustainability mindset, empowering them to improve the health of the planet, one project at a time:

Why is green building a topic that students should learn?

It takes what we might ordinarily understand about how to build something and makes it much richer and more interesting by considering the whole system it is a part of. So, students will consider not just how to put up walls and install windows, but also to look carefully at the larger context of a building, such as site selection, transportation, water efficiency, energy and the atmosphere, materials and air quality.

When students look at the whole system, they learn how to create sustainable buildings and communities that will look amazing and help us take better care of the Earth. The topic appeals to students who have a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, encourages collaboration and lets students express their original ideas. Green building credentials also look very impressive on a high school resume, and the skills students learn while studying green building can be applied in many different fields.

How does “LEED Prep” engage students in learning and the world around them?

The first module in the “LEED Prep” program focuses on ecosystems, climate change and the need for long-term thinking in order for humans to protect valuable resources on Earth. This approach is emphasized throughout the course so students really understand the value in applying green building principles. They will also discover that they can immediately begin applying green principles they learn in the course at home and at school. This makes the coursework relevant and meaningful to students on a number of levels. The course also actively engages students so they are constantly investigating, planning, sketching, designing, testing and experiencing firsthand why green building matters.

If you only have time right now to check out one lesson, which one should it be?

I think Lesson 2.1: Building Together would be a great lesson to check out, because it provides a really nice overview of green building principles and how, when applied together, they can completely transform a neighborhood into a thriving community. It also gives students an opportunity to begin sketching design plans and sharing their personal thoughts and ideas about how to develop a really unique and sustainable neighborhood that people will want to live in and visit.

Click here to explore LEED Prep: Green Building Lessons for a Sustainable Future.


This blog post written by Jenny Wiedower was originally published on USGBC’s Center for Green Schools blog.

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