Four recent West Virginia University graduates have taken the first step in distinguishing themselves in the world of sustainable design, equipped by a course they took in their final semester.

Stephanie Johnson of Lewisburg, W.Va.; Lindsay Floyd of Derwood, Md.; Christina Amato of Monmouth Junction, N.J.; and Laura Grunert of Coraopolis, Pa. successfully passed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Associate accreditation exam.

All 2010 graduates, Johnson, Floyd and Amato earned bachelor’s degrees in interior design, while Grunert earned a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture.

Created by the US Green Building Council, LEED is an internationally recognized suite of programs designed to certify building projects were constructed with sustainable features. Professionals earn their accreditations through the Green Building Certification Institute, the third party entity that also monitors and certifies buildings.

The students completed DSGN493: LEED and Green Advantage Preparation, a course taught by Chris Haddox, visiting assistant professor of sustainable design in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, during the spring 2010 semester.

The special topics course prepares students for the LEED Green Associate exam and the Green Advantage Commercial/Residential certification exam.

Open to all students and the only WVU course of its kind, class participants had the option of taking either test as their final exam and potentially emerging from college with the accreditation.

“They are getting ready to embark on their careers in the field of green building and they are going to come up against a host of green building rating systems, with the LEED system being the most widely used and recognized at this point,” Haddox said. “It’s important for them to be knowledgeable of all facets of sustainable building, and this course provides that necessary background.”

The Green Associate exam is the first of three on the path to becoming accredited under the LEED system. After obtaining the Green Associate Accreditation and garnering actual building experience on LEED projects, professionals can then sit for the LEED AP exam. A LEED AP with extensive project experience is eligible to sit for the terminal accreditation, the LEED Fellow.

Johnson, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in community development and planning at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., said she took the course to not only prepare for the exam but also better understand the concepts behind green building.

“The Green Associate Exam requires you to not only understand the site and materials involved in a project but to have an understanding of how all the systems interact. This class covers material that isn’t offered in the Green Building Certification Institute’s study guides,” she explained. “Without this course, I wouldn’t have had the necessary resources to successfully complete the exam.”

Although she has yet to begin her career, Johnson already has a plan for the knowledge and accreditation she gained through the class.

“I plan on incorporating green building into small town revitalization,” she said. “Eventually, environmental awareness will become a globalized concern, and it’s important to be a forerunner in this area.”

The course will be offered again in Spring 2011. For more information on the course, contact Haddox at 304-293-3657 or



CONTACT: WVU University Relations – News

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