Shannon Chance (EPPL PhD 2010) represented the W&M School of Education at Virginia's Graduate Research Forum, held in Richmond on February 3, 2011. Shannon presented research about "Sustainable Buildings on University Campuses." She reported findings from her dissertation, a study that focused on the LEED Green Building Rating system and the ways it has been used on American campuses.
Universities represent 14% of all LEED users—they are one of the program's largest user groups. Having buildings that are LEED-certified helps universities demonstrate that they are "doing the right thing" and contributing to the green building movement. It also helps them protect their investment. Because universities own and operate their buildings for a very long time, they can clearly benefit from constructing buildings in ways that conserve resources, reduce operations and maintenance costs over the life-span of the building, and improve the quality of life for building inhabitants.
Shannon's work tracked the performance of the LEED system and assessed how well the program's creator, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), has been meeting its major goals. Noteworthy goals include: spurring market transformation, continually raising the bar by harnessing emerging knowledge, and recognizing building owners for their "leadership in energy and environmental design."
"Even if every building were built to the highest LEED rating today," she says, "we'd still be a long way from true sustainability. The program is, however, meeting USGBC's primary goal of spurring market transformation." Data show continual improvement over time. "The organization has a process for overhauling the LEED system every few years. It integrates new ideas and new findings, and it continually responds to critique of shortcomings in older versions of the system. In this, the USGBC can be considered a model learning organization."
Shannon is a registered architect, LEED Accredited Professional, and Associate Professor of Architecture at Hampton University. In May 2010, she earned a PhD in Educational Policy, Planning and Leadership at W&M and the SoE Dean's Award for Excellence at the doctoral level. Her study received a 2010 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the International Society for Educational Planning (ISEP) and is to be published in Planning for Higher Education and by the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA).
The Graduate Research Forum is a way to share student research among universities and with members of the Virginia General Assembly. The Virginia Council of Graduate Schools conducts it annually at the Library of Virginia.