LEED CERTIFICATION AND STUDENT PERCEPTION
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In consideration of Dalhousie’s green building policy (2011), that requires LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification on all newly built buildings over 10,000 square feet, this research project explores the perceived benefits and drawbacks of LEED certified buildings LeMarchant Place and the Mona Campbell building according to undergraduate students. Examining the relationship students have with LEED spaces is an integral consideration of having LEED buildings on Dalhousie’s campus, as it is undergraduate students who live in, work and interact with these buildings and the way they are designed, built and operated influences students’ everyday experiences at Dalhousie University. Using a short questionnaire, this exploratory study surveyed Dalhousie undergraduate students in LeMarchant Place and Mona Campbell building at different times of the day to understand if the LEED certified buildings were meeting the goals of reducing environmental impacts and creating healthy social spaces for Dalhousie students. Results from students in the Mona Campbell building taught us that 56% of students surveyed in the Mona Campbell were aware of the concept of LEED certification, but 42% were not at all familiar with the features that were part of certifying a building. The most common year of study of students surveyed in the Mona Campbell building was second year, and students were from the faculty of arts and social sciences. Most students thought the Mona Campbell was beautiful, a fairly good place to study, good for the environment, and they generally enjoyed their time spent there. Most students used the space for appointments, social events, classes, and studying 0-‐2 times a week. Similar results were found in LeMarchant Place, where the majority of students were also in their second year of study, however were mostly in the faculty of science. Furthermore, 58% of students were not aware of LEED certification or the features related to it. Similar to the Mona Campbell, most students thought the building was beautiful, a good place to study, semi good for the environment, and enjoyed spending time there. We were surprised to see that most students thought it was a good place to study as the atrium was almost completely empty every time we collected surveys, but attribute this result to many students being residents of the building. In both buildings, students’ responses in regards to our open-‐ended questions illustrated that while the majority of students shared the values of sustainability reflected in LEED certification, ultimately having the “LEED certified” title did not positively influence their perceptions of the building. Most students were unaware of LEED policies or stated frankly that they did not care, and that they were more concerned about a quiet, well-‐lit and multi-‐purpose study space. It is for this reason that we recommend that Dalhousie conduct further research to ensure that LEED-‐certified buildings are inclusive spaces that reflect the needs and values of all students, as well as furthering education into the many benefits of LEED to foster a sense of pride on campus.