By Robert Kennedy – Collegiate Staff
When most students are spending their extra time playing video games, watching movies or playing a sport, Cody Hansen, the acting student chapter president of the U.S. Green Building Council Student Organization at Grand Rapids Community College (USGBC), is learning and teaching others how to better the world.
USGBC is a local chapter of a national organization embracing the ideas of sustainability, eco-friendly and “green” incorporating them into building design and construction.
“As a student group, our purpose is to educate other students on green building practices,” Hansen said. “We do our best to provide resources and trips to green buildings in order to teach students.”
Hansen exudes excitement for the opportunities that the USGBC has to offer him and his fellow classmates.
“Right now, we have an opportunity for students to attend LEED Green Associate training, a class over the course of three months ending April ninth,” Hansen. “Ten students should end up with the LEED Green Associate credential, which is the first step in becoming a LEED certified professional.”
LEED, pronounced like lead, is the acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED “is a third party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings in both commercial and residential fields,” according to GRCC’s website.
In the 21st Century, LEED is an important certification. LEED for Homes projects must meet ENERGY STAR for Homes, which can cut energy bills by 20 percent, saving between $200 to $400 annually, adding up to potentially thousands of dollars saved over the seven or eight years that the typical homeowner lives in a home. Some homeowners see savings of up to 60 percent, and energy efficiency in apartments could save $3.4 billion.” According to usgbc.org
Hansen said that there are nine seats still available for the LEED Green Associate training program and the cost for students is $30. He also explained that students should sign up soon because the seats will fill up fast.
According to The Rapid Growth at rapidgrowthmedia.com, Grand Rapids in fact has the most LEED-certified buildings per capita. Given that, the USGBC group is looking to give students pursuing careers in construction and design a competitive edge in the job market by offering LEED certification opportunities.
Some past events included tours of local LEED buildings such as the Grand Rapids Art Museum, which is certified LEED Gold.
However, USGBC doesn’t just take advantage of all the learning opportunities here in Grand Rapids, they also travel to other cities. Hansen said the organization’s trip to the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Philadelphia was one of the most memorable.
“(The expo) introduced a lot of students to new ideas of sustainability and different fields we can go into,” Hansen said.
USGBC has generally attracted architecture and engineering students, but membership is open to any student who wishes to join.
Interested students can get involved by showing up to the next meeting at 12:30 p.m., Feb. 17 in room __ of the Applied
Technology center, or contact Cody Hansen directly at Cody@emailhansen.com. You can also obtain further information about the national organization at usgbc.org.