Schools-2009 IDc3: The School as a Teaching Tool

  • Schools_IDc3_Type3_Teaching Diagram
  • A living lab

    Through this credit, you incorporate the building’s sustainable design features directly into the school curriculum, enhancing students’ educational experiences, while getting more benefit from the school’s investment in sustainability.

    The school itself acts as a living lab that informs students about energy and water efficiency, indoor air quality, connection to the outdoors, and can motivate students to get involved in activities that promote sustainability and environmental awareness. Hands-on learning can provide both a more exciting learning environment and a more effective educational experience.

    The school’s “green team” is the key player

    It’s critical to enlist a group of faculty—the “green team”—to initiate and follow through with implementing the curriculum. Your first step should be to open communication with teachers to gauge their level of interest in working with—and in creating—this type of curriculum.

    Further down the road, the project design team should meet with the “green team” to brief them about the building’s sustainable and high-performance features.

    Plenty of room for creativity

    The curriculum can cover any aspect of the building’s green features and can be incorporated into any class. There’s an obvious link between green building and science or math, but there are ways to incorporate sustainability into art, health, shop, or almost any other class.

    Elementary school students learn about wildlife habitat and endangered species as part of a science and social studies curriculum on the school grounds.Think big! Some creative examples include cooking with vegetables from the school’s green roof, calculating the school’s Energy Star score, or learning about volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and how they affect human health.

    Dovetail with the existing curriculum

    The “school as teaching tool” curriculum does not need to stand alone; in fact, it’s much easier to incorporate this credit into existing curriculum planning. Teachers must simply overlay the existing curriculum with new information about the building and discuss how it demonstrates sustainability. This will be easiest in schools that already have an environmental component to their curriculum.

    You may meet some resistance

    Teachers can be averse to the attempting this credit—and their hesitation can be justified. Changing a curriculum can be a contentious and political process, and it can be difficult to incorporate ten hours of sustainability instruction per student per year (the credit requirement) into an existing curriculum when teachers already feel that they are short on time.

    School roofFrom green roofs, to renewable energy, to stormwater management, daylighting, and indoor air quality, schools are ripe to contribute to the curriculum. Image – BuildingGreen, LLCElementary schools and schools that have many groups of students in a variety of curriculum tracks may also have difficulty. On the other hand, high schools, particularly those that focus on science and technology, may find this credit quite easy. 

    Consider these questions when approaching this credit

    • Is there a teacher or group of teachers who want to head up this effort and be our “green champion” or “green team”?
    • What type of input and participation from the design team would be most helpful to the teachers as they develop and implement the curriculum?
    • How will our students benefit most? What classes are most appropriate for a sustainability curriculum? Are there existing curriculum areas that we can smoothly incorporate the building into?
    • What does 10 hours per student actually look like?


  • Best Practices
  • Gotcha
  • Action Steps
  • Cost Tip


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  • Work with school administrators, staff, and teachers to establish their level of interest in incorporating the high-performance features of the building into the school curriculum. Identify a team of “green champions”—teachers and administrators who facilitate the development of the sustainability curriculum. 

  • The curriculum does not have to be implemented until ten months after LEED certification. But you’ll need to start discussing this credit in the early stages of design, because the curriculum may take a while to develop, and some teachers may find it difficult to incorporate an additional ten hours per student devoted to high-performance design. 

  • Designing the building as a teaching tool needs to be addressed early in the design process. For example, some schools like to show a “truth window” that provides a view of a dissected wall assembly. Another idea is to include a mostly white roof, with only a small portion that is black—an easy way to demonstrate the temperature differences between the two colors. If your project attempts something like this, you need to design for safety and proper roof access for students, or you can design built-in thermometers so that students don’t even have to access the roof. But these and other features need to be included in the building design—it will be harder to accomplish them as afterthoughts. 

  • Discuss exactly what ten curriculum hours per full-time student per year might look like. It may be relatively easy to overlay an existing curriculum—for example, adding building information to an existing environmental sciences class. Some curriculum areas—like a computer class, for example—might present more challenges. Keep communications open with the teachers, and determine together the best strategy for the school. 

  • When submitting the credit to LEED Online, you are required to provide a narrative on how the curriculum was developed. It is a good idea to document meetings between the design team and the teachers as a way of describing curriculum development. 

  • The design team can aid teachers in developing the curriculum by providing resources for existing environmental and sustainability lesson plans, and by communicating in detail about the building’s high-performance design features. 

  • Discuss the potential for your project to attempt EAc5: Measurement and Verification, which could provide a good way for students to have access to energy and water consumption data. Through their studies, they may even determine ways they can help to improve their building’s performance. This is not required for credit compliance, but it can be a great teaching tool. If your school will not be attempting EAc5, consider having students evaluate the school’s Energy Star score through Portfolio Manager.

  • Consider including the following features in your school, as they generally have visible, “teachable” elements, while helping with other LEED credits: 

    • green roof
    • vegetable garden
    • compost bin
    • daylight and occupancy sensors
    • comprehensive recycling program
    • onsite renewable energy
    • exposed ductwork
    • onsite wastewater treatment
    • bioswales and other natural stormwater management
    • graywater reuse
    • rainwater capture
    • locally manufactured, recycled, or salvaged content materials. 

  • Consider using different interior design elements for different areas or classrooms that can serve as exhibits for different products, materials, designs, or furniture types. Further, the opportunity for contests between classrooms—in terms of energy use, water use, and waste—can be a good way to engage students. (This generally requires tracking infrastructure and operational support.)

  • This credit does not focus on improving test scores or health, but it can be helpful to discuss with faculty and staff (or incorporate into the curriculum) the benefits a green building can have on student performance and health. 

  • Generally, this is a low- to no-cost credit. The only requirement is the development of a curriculum that uses the building as a teaching tool. This can take quite a bit of staff time to develop, however. 

Schematic Design

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  • Determine which teachers and school administrators are going to spearhead this effort. These individuals are in charge of developing the curriculum and making sure it is properly executed. 

  • Teachers should start thinking about ways in which the building and its operations can be used to educate their students. It might be best to pick out a specific sustainability issue and use the building as a tangible example. Consider, for instance, how the roof system relates to energy savings, how window selection and placement relate to lighting power load, or how native and adapted plantings affect water consumption. 

  • This credit is ultimately about education, not just about the function and design of the building. Some schools may have flashy green features that are obvious and easy to teach, but even less state-of-the-art buildings can provide students with a good learning experience. 

  • The teachers need to be sure that there is a clear correlation between the curriculum and the sustainability strategies incorporated in the building. 

  • In seeking inspiration for curriculum development, consider using some of the following questions as points of discussion:

    • How do humans affect buildings? Would your building function properly without humans?
    • How does a building change the lives of humans? What would your life be like without buildings or with only simple ones—without electricity and running water? 
    • What impact does your building have on animals and other ecosystems? Does your school building positively affect them in any way? How can your building contribute to the health of animals and other ecosystems?
    • What could be changed in your building’s design to lessen its impact on nature? What building operations could be changed to lessen the impact on nature?

  • Keep communications open between the teachers and the design team. Their collaborative efforts can make this credit a success. It is a good idea to have the design team track items that might be good to incorporate in the school’s sustainability curriculum, in case they have ideas that the teachers can use. 

  • When designing the curriculum, be aware that it needs to be approved by school administrators and meet local or state standards. This is typically standard procedure for schools, but changing a curriculum can be a challenging, political, and sometimes long process. 

Design Development

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  • The design team works with school administrators and teachers to determine features of the building that are important for students to learn about and to discuss additional features that could aid in students’ ability to learn about sustainability. 

  • Consider incorporating the following LEED credits in to your school as a teaching tool curriculum:

    • SSc7.1: Heat Island Effect—Nonroof – It is always fun to play with heat guns, you can have the students measure the temperature differences between concrete, asphalt, shaded concrete and shaded asphalt. 
    • SSc7.2: Heat Island Effect—Roof – If your school has a green roof, have the students monitor the difference in air temperature between the green roof portion and the other roofing material.
    • WEp1 and WEc3: Water Use Reduction – Have the students submeter water usage or track water bills. If you have a science lab or home sciences class you can track water use in each classroom and compare with other classes. 
    • WEc1: Water Efficient Landscaping – Students can study native plants, the birds and bugs they attract, and rainwater harvesting through the school’s landscape.
    • WEc2: Innovative Wastewater Technologies – Students can learn about onsite wastewater treatment and the biological or chemical processes that are needed for tertiary treatment. 
    • EAp2 and EAc1: Energy Performance – Students can learn about the building envelope, including window specifications, insulation, window-to-wall ratios, passive solar design, thermal mass, and onsite renewable energy.
    • EAc5: Measurement and Verification – Students can help monitor the building’s energy use and track occupancy. This is a good opportunity to add a computer “dashboard” in the school displaying energy and water use information. You can also make competitions between wings or floors of a school and challenge the different classrooms to see who can use the least amount of energy. Doing so would require more meters or controls but can be worth the extra effort. 
    • IEQc4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5, 4.6: Low-Emitting Materials – Students can learn about the different chemical compounds that are hazardous to our health, and learn about materials that use less harmful chemicals.


  • Consider holding at least one meeting at which the design team and the teachers can discuss the process of design, and the teachers can gain a better understanding of the building. 

  • You may want to include a building management system that automatically tracks energy and water data. However, you can attain trending data even without an automated system. Consider providing first-order measurement systems that track or spot-meter energy and water use. You don’t need fancy tools to keep students interested—inexpensive temperature sensors are a great way to learn about heat transfer and energy consumption. 

  • You can create a demonstration lab that compares the energy consumption of different light fixtures, such as typical incandescent, halogen, and compact fluorescent. Make sure that the fixtures used in the school are demonstrated too, so that students can understand what’s going on in their building. 

  • The teachers finalize the sustainability curriculum.

  • If there is an existing environmental portion of a class, developing and incorporating the high-performance building into that curriculum may not be that time-consuming or challenging. However, if there is no foundation to start from, teachers may find this a very time-intensive task.

  • Make sure that the curriculum covers ten hours for every full-time student. For example, if you have a middle school with grades 6–8, you might have one lesson plan for each grade. For example: 

    • For 6th graders, building sustainability might be incorporated into their electives. In art class they could draw their ideal sustainable building and include a narrative. In shop class they could make recycled furniture. In home sciences they could cook with onsite or locally grown food. 
    • If the 7th grade science class is biology, students can learn about the vegetable garden (or green roof) and the wildlife it attracts; they can look into the food chain and where humans get their food; they can learn about pesticides and fertilizers; they can see how composting works and learn about its benefits; and they can study the effects of the collection and reuse of rain, and see how a living machine can support life. 
    • The 8th graders might collect data and monitor systems in the building for a year. They could take the ambient air temperature, wall-surface temperature inside and wall-surface temperature outside to determine the R-value of the wall assembly. They may also collect and track water and energy bills to determine savings.

Construction Documents

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  • Consider including a webcam to document construction activities for future use in a classroom, or using the energy model and building plans as teaching tools. 

  • The design team and contractor may want to track specific product data sheets that could help with the curriculum. For example, the teachers might find it helpful to have the window specifications or the MSDS for the paints used. 

  • The sustainability curriculum on the high-performance features of the school must be implemented within ten months after LEED certification. Be sure to finalize the curriculum and have it approved by the school administrators well in advance of this ten-month deadline. 

  • It is a good idea to get approval in writing from the school administrators. 

  • Document this credit through LEED Online. You’ll need to provide a narrative detailing the process of developing the school as a teaching tool curriculum, and describe how the curriculum makes a connection between the school and the living environment in and around the school. The LEED credit form requires a signoff (typically done by the school principal) verifying that: 

    • The curriculum will be implemented within ten months of LEED certification. 
    • It meets local or state standards, and has been approved by school administrators. 
    • It provides ten or more hours of classroom instruction per year, per full-time student.  


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  • Consider inviting the teachers to walk the site during construction and take photographs of the construction process. These can be used later on with the curriculum. Photos might be especially helpful for shop or art classes. 

Operations & Maintenance

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  • Implement the “school as a teaching tool” curriculum within ten months of completing the building. Be sure that each student receives ten hours of lessons on sustainability per year.

  • The teachers should continue to develop the sustainability curriculum and continue to learn about high-performance buildings. 

  • The credit does not specify how long the curriculum must be in place, but the intent is that it is ongoing, and that lesson plans evolve and improve over time.

  • If the school has an environmental club or green team, see if they want to be involved in improving the sustainability curriculum. Ask for their input and what they think would be exciting learn about. 


    Excerpted from LEED 2009 for Schools New Construction and Major Renovations

    ID Credit 3: The school as a teaching tool

    1 Point


    To integrate the sustainable features of a school facility with the school’s educational mission.


    Design a curriculum based on the high-performance features of the building, and commit to implementing the curriculum within 10 months of LEED certification. The curriculum should not just describe the features themselves, but explore the relationship between human ecology, natural ecology and the building. Curriculum must meet local or state curriculum standards, be approved by school administrators and provide 10 or more hours of classroom instruction per year, per full-time student.

    Potential Technologies & Strategies

    It is highly recommended that project teams coordinate closely with school administration and faculty where possible, to encourage ongoing relationships between high-performance features of the school and the students. For curriculum development, engage the school in a program that integrates the school building with the curriculum in the school. Consider the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project, the Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Schools Program, and National Energy Foundation educational resources. A collection of energy education resources can also be found at the Energy Information Administration’s Web site at:

Web Tools

Math/Science Nucleus

This website provides interesting ideas on K-12 curriculums for math and science. Many of these ideas can be adapted to include the building. 

The Roof is Growing!

This website provides educational resources on green roofs for middle school students.

Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager

Students can determine the school’s Energy Star rating through the use of Portfolio Manager.

Technical Guides

Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide

The guide connects students to a thorough water education program including water's chemical and physical properties, quantity and quality issues, water user group needs, and ecosystems and management strategies. This 561-page guide is a collection of multidisciplinary water-related activities for ages 5 through 18 that are hands-on, easy to use, and fun. The lessons incorporate a variety of formats, such as large and small group learning, whole-body activities, laboratory investigations, discussion of local and global topics, and community service projects.

Green Schools Energy Project: A Step-by-Step Manual Youth for Environmental Sanity

A simple step-by-step guide to help students perform energy audits on their schools and then lobby for change.

Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Curriculum U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Designed for grades K–3, this free curriculum, offered by EPA’s Region 1 (headquartered in Boston), supplements the principles and materials in the IAQIndoor air quality: The quality and attributes of indoor air affecting the health and comfort building occupants. IAQ encompasses available fresh air, contaminant levels, acoustics and noise levels, lighting quality, and other factors. Tools for Schools Action Kit.


Protecting Forests, Reducing Paper Waste, and Buying Recycled

The Green Schools Initiative has developed a curriculum to help integrate issues of forest protection and reducing paper waste into students’ studies. Sample data sheets, homework assignments, cost-benefit analysis of switching to recycled paper, and other internet resources are provided.

Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Schools Campaign

Alliance’s Green Schools Program engages students in creating energy-saving activities in their schools using hands-on, real-world projects. Lesson plans for different age groups can be downloaded for free on this website.

Center for Ecoliteracy

The Center for Ecoliteracy promotes sustainability education through systems thinking and place-based learning. Specific curriculum guidelines emphasize food systems and watersheds, but the website also offers useful articles and resources concerning systems thinking, environmental education, and ecological literacy.

Center for Understanding the Built Environment

The Center for Understanding the Built Environment specializes in community-based education, which brings together educators, children, and community partners to effect change. The center provides courses, workshops, newsletters, and teaching guides to help students appreciate good design, preservation, and planning. Curricula can be adapted to any site or grade level.

EnergySmart Schools - U.S. Department of Energy

The EnergySmart Schools website serves as a mechanism to provide education and information about energy-efficient, healthy, high-performance K-12 schools. The website includes resources for teachers, including a digitized version of the Get Smart about Energy CD-Rom, a curriculum enhancement tool containing 350 inquiry-based lessons aligned to National Science Education Standards.

Earth Day Network, K–12 Environmental Education Program

Earth Day Network’s Environmental Education Program provides curriculum resources, games, interactive quizzes, and other tools for integrating environmental issues into core curriculum subjects.

The EIC Model, Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for Improving Student Learning State Education & Environment Roundtable

“The EIC Model™ is a system of specific, interconnected educational practices and encompasses professional development and program evaluation. Learning based on the EIC Model™ is about using a school’s surroundings and community as a framework within which students can construct their own learning, guided by teachers and administrators using proven educational practices.”

Environmental Protection Agency Teaching Center

The EPA Teacher Resources website contains curricula and links to help educators teach environmental topics, from waste and recycling to local environmental cleanup. Curricula for a variety of age groups are available.


Buildings that Teach Sustainability

This document gives a wonderful overview on incorporating design features into the curriculum, provides case studies, and numerous links. 


School Building Week, School of the Future Student Design Competition

School Building Week, under the aegis of the CEFPI Foundation & Charitable Trust, is a weeklong commemoration creating greater public awareness of the importance of well-planned, high-performance, healthy, safe, and sustainable school buildings that enhance student performance and community vitality. The Student Design Competition program challenges students to plan and design school buildings that enhance their own academic performance and the vitality of the communities they serve. Curriculum for this design competition addresses the national math standards for middle schools and provides an opportunity to apply mathematical concepts relevant to students’ lives.

Approved K-8 Curriculum

The sample shown here is a curriculum that was approved on a LEED-certified K-8 school project.

Completed LEED Online Documentation

King Elementary

Complete documentation earning IDc3 on a LEED Gold certified school.


The sample shown here is a curriculum that was approved on a LEED project.

Design Submittal

PencilDocumentation for this credit can be part of a Design Phase submittal.


Sep 24 2013
260 Thumbs Up

Continuous Education Video

I'm working on a university campus project and for the university is very difficult to implement or change its courses, specially because the building I'm working with contains classrooms that will be destined to different carreers. The option we want to apply is to implement a series of screens all along the building, with a video that will be constantly running including all the sustainable features of the project, allowing all the students and even the workers and visitors to be informed and educated. Could this be an eligible compliance path for the credit? Thanks.

Daniel LeBlanc Senior Sustainability Manager, YR&G Nov 04 2013 Guest 1425 Thumbs Up

The approach you describe would not be appropriate for this credit. It would be better suited to meet the signage/educational display requirements of the Green Education ID credit.

Post a Reply
Amanda Thomas Associate Gensler
Aug 01 2013
46 Thumbs Up

course offering at a university

I'm working on an NCv2009 Higher Education project that has many environmental course offerings as part of a new degree program. One of these courses focuses on sustainability in the built environment and provides a great interdisciplinary discussion. It will provide more than 10 hours of instruction for students who elect to take the course, and I am working to integrate conversations about the university's LEED buildings into the curriculum. Based on review comments anyone else has received for this credit, do you feel that this would meet the Innovation in Design credit requirements for School as a Teaching Tool? Thanks.

Daniel LeBlanc Senior Sustainability Manager, YR&G Nov 04 2013 Guest 1425 Thumbs Up

I've only seen this credit applied successfully to elementary and secondary schools where every students receives 10 hours of instruction per year. The credit language doesn't seem to allow for higher-ed applications.

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Rebecca Molldrem Project Manager JLG Architects
Jun 25 2013
312 Thumbs Up

School as a Teaching Tool vs ID Green Building Education Program

Since ID Credit 3 is an option under LEED for Schools, does this mean that if a project is not pursuing this, they also wouldn't be able to pursue an Innovation in Design credit for a Green Building Education Program? The latter is often accepted by the USGBC per previous CIRs, etc. They have similar objectives, that is why I am not sure.

Heather DeGrella Sustainability Design Leader, Opsis Architecture Sep 05 2013 LEEDuser Member 1928 Thumbs Up

Hi Rebecca - we are doing a documentary on the Hood River Middle School, which achieved both the School as a Teaching Tool and an ID credit they called "Building Systems Education" which I think is basically the same as the Green Building Education Program. The Teaching Tool credit focuses on actual school curriculum for students whereas the Building Education credit is to provide public education to the community on green building strategies and solutions. Hope that helps.

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Ameet AA
Nov 19 2012
LEEDuser Member
1694 Thumbs Up

Schools-2009 IDc3: The School as a Teaching Tool

Could someone please guide me to find credit template/forms for innovation credits?Especially Schools-2009 IDc3: The School as a Teaching Tool

As Below link does not give any innovation credits templates.

Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Nov 19 2012 LEEDuser Moderator

Ameet, for some reason, I don't think USGBC has posted those forms. I would request them by emailing GBCIThe Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) manages Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building certification and professional accreditation processes. It was established in 2008 with support from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). through their website.

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Mike Kros Architect DLR Group
Nov 01 2011
LEEDuser Member
384 Thumbs Up

Student Clubs to Fulfill Requirements?

A project we are working on is considering implementing a student club program in order to fulfill the requirements for this credit. Perhaps the student club could formulate a program that informs other students throughout the school about the sustainable features of the school/site (such as signage or activities/programs)? Would this be sufficient to fulfill this requirement?

Any information you have would be greatly appreciated!

Emily Catacchio Sustainability Specialist, Wight and Company Nov 01 2011 Guest 9950 Thumbs Up

Hi Mike,

Probably not, because it must include a curriculum which meets state or local standards and class time. A club will likely not meet those requirments. Please see the credit language above for more information.

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Anya Fiechtl ARCHITECT, LEED AP BD+C LMN Architects
Oct 20 2011
1129 Thumbs Up

Super Useful FYI - green building curriculum

The Green Education Foundation (GEF) offers a great curriculum that uses the building as a teaching tool - see PDF available online, (click on the "green building" tab). This program is in it's pilot stage, but I don't think you have to participate in the pilot program - looks like you can just use the materials. You will notice that the lesson plans included here are for Kindergarten -2nd grade, but a full range of grade levels should be available very soon.

This program is nice because it offers a full 10 hour/15-lesson curriculum, complete with a teachers manual, unit plan, pacing guide and all lesson plans. All of the lessons (in the K-2nd curriculum) use Science, English, and Social Studies.

If I had this resource when we started this project, it would have been a HUGE time saver... I think you still need to involve your design team in the curriculum development, but this is a great resource, whether you use it as a starting point or as a plug-and-play curriculum. I'm assuming LEED-Schools will accept it, since it is being developed in partnership between USGBC and GEF :)

Anya Fiechtl ARCHITECT, LEED AP BD+C, LMN Architects Oct 20 2011 Guest 1129 Thumbs Up

Sorry, the PDF link is

This link will probably be outdated in the future (since it's currently in the pilot stage), so just go to their website and navigate to the "green buildings" tab.

Tim Hoeft AIA, LEED AP, Straughn Trout Architects, LLC Nov 16 2011 LEEDuser Member 684 Thumbs Up

We have a LEED for Schools 2009 project that is involved in the GEF Pilot Program. The building is a high school (11th & 12th grades on a community college campus) that is offering their Green Building Course as a semester elective. After submitting for this credit in the Design Review, we were denied the point because "two classes of 23 students meeting twice a week" that are enrolled in the elective did not match our PIF3 Occupant and Usage data of 225 students. "Documentation does not confirm that all full-time students at the school will receive ten or more hours of classroom instruction per year as part of this curriculum... for future submittals, please provide confirmation that all students at the school will receive at least ten hours of classroom instruction per year as part of this curriculum."

Anyone have any suggestions of overcoming this? I believe that it is unrealistic to assume that every student be required to take a course at the 11th and 12th grade level.


Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Nov 19 2011 LEEDuser Moderator

Tim, is the issue that you are just providing curriculum for the high school students and GBCIThe Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) manages Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building certification and professional accreditation processes. It was established in 2008 with support from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). is asking what about the community college students?

If that's the case I'm not sure what to advise. I agree that it would not be reasonable to expect college students to use h.s. curriculum, but to meet this credit you would technically need to provide curriculum to those students as well, unless it can be sucessfully argued that they should be exempt. However, exempting most of the population of the building doesn't seem  to really fit the credit intent.

Cindy Estrada LEED AP BD&C, SDS Architects, Inc. Jan 04 2013 LEEDuser Member 1124 Thumbs Up

Speaking of community colleges; has anyone parlayed this into credit at the post-secondary level?

Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Feb 01 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

Cindy, I just checked for certified projects that have earned this credit, and at a glance I don't see any post-secondary projects.

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Anya Fiechtl ARCHITECT, LEED AP BD+C LMN Architects
Oct 20 2011
1129 Thumbs Up

School as a TeachingTool - clarifications?

The Principal at our school project asked a couple of questions about their sustainability curriculum program that I was unable to find a solid answer for:

1. Does the school need to commit to implementing the curriculum beyond the first year? If so, for how long?

2. Does the curriculum have to address the school building directly? Or can it address human and natural ecology, and green building in general?

I can guess the answer based on the credit intent "To integrate the sustainable features of a school facility with the school’s educational mission." However, I'm wondering if anyone has further evidense of these specific requirements...

Thanks in advance for your input!

Daniel LeBlanc Senior Sustainability Manager, YR&G Oct 21 2011 Guest 1425 Thumbs Up


I haven't seen anything in the requirements as to how long the curriculum should be implemented, but I think the expectation is that the School as a Teaching Tool curriculum will be implemented on an on-going basis and provide a foundation for other sustainability related content in the future.

And yes, the curriculum needs to address the building directly, but from my experience all of the 10 hours don't need to be dedicated specifically to the green building technologies/materials in the building. The lessons can be related to or provide context for teaching about aspects of the building, like teaching about the importance of conserving energy and resources.

Anya Fiechtl ARCHITECT, LEED AP BD+C, LMN Architects Oct 21 2011 Guest 1129 Thumbs Up

Thanks Daniel,
I hope you're right that the curriculum can include some lessons that provide context. Our Principal has already collected a 3-ring binderGlue used in manufacturing wood products, such as medium-density fiberboard (MDF), particleboard, and engineered lumber. Most binders are made with formaldehyde. full of lessons from the GEF website (under the "curriculum" tab). The site includes interesting topics like "air pollution math", "litter from lunch", "how to grow a sunflower plant," etc. These seem less connected to the building but still vauable learning opportunities about sustainable processes and practices.

John Drigot Design/LEED Specialist, The Neenan Company Dec 07 2011 Guest 2273 Thumbs Up


I have pursued The School as a Teaching Tool on a few schools now and have seen the requirements change over the past couple of years. On my first project I was able to describe the resources that I made available to the teachers and a general outline of sustainable features of the school. On my latest school project this strategy didn't quite make the grade. The reviewer asked for, " specific examples of curriculum, such as teaching plans, course outlines, etc. demonstrating how the sustainable features of this specific school facility will be integrated into the school's sustainability curriculum such that the school building and grounds themselves serve as a teaching tool" (Whew). I was surprised with this response since the curriculum doesn't need to be implemented until 10 months after certification is awarded. I'm not going to fight it, instead I'll just put it off until the construction application. Hope this helps.

Veronica Addison May 25 2012 LEEDuser Member 243 Thumbs Up

I was able to earn this credit on one elementary school project using some lessons from GEF along with additional lessons about energy savings and native habitats. On another elementary school the same credit was denied, the reviewers stated "it appears that several of the lessons are general environmental stewardship curriculum and it is unclear how these courses use the school as a teaching tool."

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