7-25-12: GEF Institute Green Building Course Pilot School Receives LEED® Gold Certification

Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School Takes Comprehensive Approach to Sustainability

July 25, 2012 – Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School, a pilot participant in GEF Institute’s blended learning Green Building Course, recently received a LEED Gold Certification. LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to signify those structures that have met strict standards for everything from energy savings to water efficiency. Gold is the second-highest level of certification.

The building, in addition to being a physical example of environmental stewardship, is also helping to educate students about green building and design. Straughn Trout orchestrated a partnership between Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School and Green Education Foundation (GEF) encouraging them to think holistically about global sustainability concerns and solutions. Through the partnership, Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate students took an independent-study elective on green building, using the building as a firsthand example of achieving water and energy savings.

“The Green Building Course is designed to educate students on green building attributes and benefits, and provides them with the educational resources necessary to understand, identify and improve environmental inefficiencies within their own school buildings. The long-term results of this program will be a student population more aware of their own environmental impact and better prepared for the new 21st-century green economy,” said Tim Hoeft, LEED accredited professional at Straughn Trout, who has participated in Green Building Course classwork at Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate.

Victoria Waters, CEO at GEF, commented, “The work being done around sustainability education and green building at Polk State is a model for forward thinking schools working toward a sustainable future. We are proud that the Institute’s Green Building curriculum has become such a cornerstone for the school’s sustainability education initiatives.”

Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate Professor Suzy Halverson, who teaches the Green Building Course as part of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum, said students who opt for the elective learn about topics such as energy and water efficiency, indoor environmental quality and sustainability, as well as the materials that are used in green building. The building is used as a firsthand example of green building to foster discussion and help bring those concepts to life for students. Students from Ms. Halverson’s class won a guest entry on GEF’s blog by showcasing what they learned through this course and how their behaviors have changed to conserve water at home and at school, http://greeneducationfoundation.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/things-i-do-to-save-water-chain-of-lakes-collegiate-high-school-guest-blog/.

GEF Institute’s blended learning curriculum includes topics such as sustainable sites, water and energy efficiency, and environmental quality as they relate to building construction, operation and maintenance. Each unit includes ready to use online materials and resources to integrate sustainability concepts into the classroom in a fun and engaging way. Each unit is anticipated to be 30 hours of curriculum, including homework. Materials are recommended for secondary school classrooms. Classroom materials are accessible online and require an internet connection to access. Smart Boards, projectors, computers or e-tablets are recommended for optimal viewing. Learn more about GEF Institute’s Green Building Course on the Institute’s website under blended learning curriculum, http://www.gefinstitute.org/overview-classroom.html.

Read more about Polk State’s green building features on the schools’ website, http://news.polk.edu/community/polk-state-facility-receives-leed-gold-certification/.

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About GEF Institute

GEF Institute, a division of Green Education Foundation (GEF), was established to meet the increasing market demand for sustainability focused education and training. The Institute builds on GEF's expertise in K-12 sustainability education and STEM concepts by offering affordable online courses in sustainability to educators, students at the high school and undergraduate level, employees and professionals. In addition to individual online courses, the Institute’s robust certificate program distinguishes those with a proven comprehensive understanding of important sustainability topics. The Institute's courses are eligible for professional development or academic credit. www.gefinstitute.org