The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Faculty program includes a diverse group of green building professionals—skilled facilitators who bring to life the concepts of sustainability through various education models. USGBC Faculty professor Cristina Shoji-Pellizzetti, who teaches at Everglades University in Florida, shares her work educating new audiences to the world of LEED v4.

How do your credentials as USGBC Faculty, LEED AP, and Green Classroom Professional help you prepare young people for the demands and goals of the green building marketplace?

SHOJI-PELLIZZETTI: As Faculty professor, I teach the LEED Certification and Green Sustainability course at Florida´s Everglades University Sarasota and Tampa campuses to students majoring in our Construction Management Program. The majority of my students are veterans. The on-site course of 144 hours covers an overview of the LEED project certification process and prepares students for the LEED v4 version of the LEED Green Associate exam. The Veterans Administration benefits offer reimbursement to veterans for the cost up to $2,000 for any of the LEED professional exams administered by GBCI.

You are affiliated with USGBC Florida. What kind of initiatives by that local USGBC community have been most engaging for your students or emerging professionals in that area?

SHOJI-PELLIZZETTI: In my career as a project manager, what has produced the biggest results is being able to connect people. So, generally I see LEED as a platform for this, and I see teaching as a way to evangelize this platform. Being a volunteer with the USGBC Florida Gulf Coast Region, Tampa Bay Branch, has been important to understand the demand for high-performance green buildings in the community and effectively present the business case for LEED-certified buildings.

Through this involvement and the support of USGBC Florida Director Lee Cooke and our local region´s Chair Taylor Ralph, five field trips to local LEED-certified buildings were possible. They were learning experiences for students to network with local community leaders of USGBC Florida (Tampa Bay History Center, Eco-Oaks Affordable Housing and University of South Florida Patel College of Global Sustainability, all in Tampa, and Willis Smith Construction Headquarters in Sarasota).

Local sustainability experts have also collaborated as guest speakers, sharing their experiences with our students in the classroom (Edel Travieso, Chair of Green Veterans at USGBC; Roger Landry, President of Building Energy Solutions; and Robbie Gronbach, Director of Willis A. Smith Construction).

When you teach about the green building principles that apply to the LEED Green Associate exam, what are the top questions students have, and how do you address them?

SHOJI-PELLIZZETTI: The top questions students have about green building principles that apply to the LEED Green Associate exam are related to the new Integrative Process category. I always tell my students it is the most important in the LEED v4 process. The core of the integrative design process is collaboration among team members before the design process begins and then continuing that collaboration throughout the design phases. It is crucial to define overall project goals, clarify sustainability goals, identify roles and responsibilities, and introduce the LEED process early in the discovery phase to support high-performance and cost-effective projects.

What would be your advice for students looking to break into the green construction field, and what USGBC resources would be most helpful to them?

SHOJI-PELLIZZETTI: My advice for students would be to join your local USGBC community as Emerging Professionals and to achieve the LEED Green Associate credential. For the LEED Green Associate exam, the two-week study plan summarizes all materials needed to pass the exam, and the Education @USGBC online learning platform is also a valuable resource.

Modern Contractor Solutions, October 2018
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