Just in time for Greenbuild, RMJM released its "Education Revolution" study which, among other things, found that only six percent of design leaders believe recent graduates from U.S. design schools are very well prepared to address sustainable design. Not a good response, given that 88 percent of firm leaders surveyed believe that knowledge of sustainable design will significantly affect a young person's advancement.
Are design school failing us all—firms, students and clients—when it comes to teaching sustainability? The study showed wide differences between graduates' aptitude on different areas of sustainable design as identified by LEED ratings. And the outlook from students and faculty, while better than six percent, was still well below passing: Only 23 percent of students and 32 percent of faculty think graduates are well prepared to go green. What's more, it was students who gave the highest negative ratings to their peers, with 17 percent saying recent grads are poorly or very poorly prepared.
The question becomes whose responsibility it is to teach sustainability. It is
a) The responsibility of the individual student to seek out answers and new technologies?
b) That of the individual professor to take the initiative of integrating it and actively promoting it in coursework?
c) The responsibility of learning institutions to engage faculty and students in a constant dialogue through coursework, campus activities and industry outreach?
d) The firm owners to institute in-house programming that can get new hires and old veterans alike up to speed on the latest sustainable options?
e) all of the above and then some?
No matter what the answer, with the built environment responsible for 35-45 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and one third of all energy use in the United States, it's a problem that should not be ignored.