LEED Certification and Student Values
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The purpose and interest of this research project was to try and answer the question: How do Dalhousie University students of the academic winter 2016 term value LEED certification compared to other sustainable initiatives on campus? The Leadership in Energy and Design (LEED), which was introduced to Canada in 2004, is a green building rating system that has become more popular in recent years, and certifies buildings as sustainable at one of four different levels: Standard, Silver, Gold and Platinum (LEED, 2016). Having a LEED audit performed can become costly depending on the physical size of the area being assessed. Dalhousie University has one of few colleges of sustainability across North America, an office of sustainability, and a number of sustainable programs and initiatives on campus, including their LEED Gold building policy. The population chosen for the purpose of this study is students enrolled in undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate programs at Dalhousie University. The research was conducted on the Studley campus because this campus contains the largest number of LEED certified buildings compared to the other campuses and it is the largest Dalhousie campus. This campus sees a lot of student traffic daily and also a variety of students in different programs. To conduct the research, non-probabilistic, haphazard sampling was used for selecting participates. A questionnaire was created using a mixture of single response, closed, Likert-scale and ranking style questions, with a total of ten questions. The locations used to conduct the research were: Life Sciences Centre (LSC), Killam library, Student Union Building, Mona Campbell building and LeMarchant Place. Two major limitations were factors in this study: the statistical representation of 376 students was not reached due to time constraint and student willingness to participate, and the possible inaccurate answers leading to inaccurate data and conclusions. The most conclusive result found from this study was that 77.6% of students were unaware of what LEED certification was before prior to the survey. The brief explanation of LEED certification given at the top of the survey allowed the students to complete the rest of the survey with an understanding that LEED was a sustainable initiative. 95.1% of students said it was very important, important, or somewhat important that Dalhousie is a leader in sustainability. The majority of students also said it was very important to somewhat important that Dalhousie buildings be LEED certified. The fact that so many students were unaware of what the LEED certification system was before taking this survey could be due to lack of education on the subject, but also lack of signage in the LEED certified buildings. An overall better understanding of LEED certification from students would better indicate whether or not students truly value LEED compared to the other sustainable initiatives on campus.