The Simons Center for Geometry and Physics is a silver certified LEED building. All future construction and renovations done on campus will be planned and completed according to the LEED standards. ARACELY JIMENEZ/THE STATESMAN

Stony Brook University is offering its first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate Course of 2018, in partnership with Long Island’s chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

LEED is an eco-friendly certification program that takes all aspects of a building into account, rating its efficiency and sustainability. The goal is to encourage more cost-efficient and ecologically sustainable development.

The goal of the Green Associate Course, according to the USGBC website, is to give participants a “thorough understanding of green building practices and principles and the LEED® Rating System.”

Some Long Island tax codes are starting to require buildings to be constructed according to LEED standards, said Daniel Busi, a managing director on the staff of USGBC, citing Huntington as an example.

“What LEED has done, it’s encouraged manufacturers to increase the efficiency of their systems,” John Fogarty, the director of capital planning at Stony Brook, said.

Buildings are rated either certified, silver, gold or platinum, depending on their efficiency and sustainability, with certified being the lowest and platinum the highest.

For instance, Stony Brook’s Simons Center for Geometry and Physics has been given a silver certification. The fountain running outside the six-story building is part of a waste heat rejection system, which helps to cool the building more efficiently, said Fogarty. Geothermal energy beneath the fountain also contributes to heating the building in the colder months.

State buildings are now required to be built according to LEED standards, Fogarty said. All construction and renovation at Stony Brook, as a SUNY school, must comply accordingly.

“It is now a fact of life — it’s a normal way of doing business, dealing with LEED,” Fogarty said. “The thing that we’re most interested in LEED is reducing energy use on campus, because we are a huge consumer of energy, and we’d like to reduce that and the state government would like to reduce that.”

Both Fogarty and Busi encourage students to take the LEED certification course.

“When you’re applying for jobs after college they love to see some sort of accreditation,” Busi said.

Junior mechanical engineering major and president of Stony Brook’s Robot Design Team, Le Si Qu, said that she thinks the certification is useful for engineering students going into industry. The cost of the course, however, is a deterrent. At $375 for the five-session preparation course, she said that she simply can’t pay, though she mused that companies might pay for employee certification.

“Right now the only accreditation I plan on getting is my fundamentals of engineering which is the first step to becoming a professional engineer,” Qu wrote over Facebook Messenger. “I think LEED would be good for manufacturing. Manufacturing, [heating, ventilation and air conditioning] and product design are fields that mechanical engineers can work in so it would probably be applicable to me wherever I go.”

There are three levels of LEED accreditation. After becoming a LEED Green Associate (GA), students or professionals can choose to follow up by becoming a LEED Accredited Professional (AP). Stony Brook offers preparation courses for both exams.

A LEED Fellow is the third level, and is “a peer-nominated designation awarded to highly accomplished individuals with ten or more years of professional green building experience,” according to the LEED website.

LEED-certified buildings save money in the long run, by cutting down on energy costs, and bring an added social benefit with green building practices, Busi said.  

“It’s important for our sustainable development on Long Island,” he added. “If we only build buildings to code, we’ll just have poor buildings after a while.”