Design & Technology

USGBC Students LEED the Way

Campus Sustainable Learning Center focus of regional design competition

2012 USGBC Natural Talent Design Competion | 1st place design: H. S. Well Design Group from the University of Wisconsin, Madison

2012 USGBC Natural Talent Design Competition | 1st place design: H. S. Well Design Group from the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Formed in spring 2011 by students in the Architectural Technology program, the U.S. Green Building Council Student Group at Dakota County Technical College took a leading role in the 2012 USGBC Natural Talent Design Competition, which featured the challenge of designing a Sustainable Learning Center on DCTC’s main campus in Rosemount, Minn. Former USGBC Student Group president, Mark Nicholson, and former vice president, Karen Malkowski, both Arch Tech students at the time, worked with a representative from the USGBC Minnesota Chapter, Caitlin Barta, who served as the 2012 design competition chair.

Former DCTC-USGBC Student Group Vice President Karen Malkowski & President Mark Nicholson

Former USGBC Student Group VP Karen Malkowski & President Mark Nicholson

A nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., USGBC boasts 77 chapters, 13,000 member organizations and 181,000 LEED Accredited Professionals all dedicated to developing cost-wise and energy-efficient buildings in the quest for a sustainable future. Green building principles provide environmental benefits and economic opportunities. According to USGBC data, building efficiently by following established LEED standards can meet 85 percent of future energy demands in the U.S. while generating a potential 2.5 million jobs. Standing for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system.

LEED description from the USGBC website:

“LEED — The most widely recognized and widely used green building program across the globe. LEED is certifying 1.6 million square feet of building space each day in more than 130 countries. LEED is a certification program for buildings, homes and communities that guides the design, construction, operations and maintenance. Today, nearly 50,000 projects are currently participating in LEED, comprising more than 8.9 billion square feet of construction space.”

Jennifer Brundell, chair of the 2013 Natural Talent Design Competition, reported that the event, which is hosted by the USGBC Minnesota Emerging Professionals Committee, helps facilitate green-building collaborations that unite aspiring architects and designers with the USGBC MN Chapter and professional community. Current students and graduates up to two years out of college are eligible to compete.

“The design competition provides an applied learning experience in the principles of integrated design, sustainability and social consciousness, exposing competitors to the critical thinking and teamwork necessary for successful projects,” said Brundell, who also serves as the USGBC Minnesota Emerging Professionals chair-elect. “This competition is an amazing way for students and young professionals to showcase their talent and expertise while working with others toward a common goal. The ultimate purpose of the competition, in addition to providing great networking and design experience, is to use winning designs as a model for a future project.”

2012 USGBC Natural Talent Design Competition | 1st place design: K + Y Design from the University of Minnesota

2012 USGBC Natural Talent Design Competition | 2nd place design: K + Y Design from the University of Minnesota

Brundell went on to say that seven teams participated in the 2012 Natural Talent Design Competition. Teams designed a Sustainable Learning Center on the DCTC main campus that could achieve USGBC LEED Platinum, the highest level of certification.

“The focus of this project was to design a working demonstration of an innovative low water use, net zero energy, zero waste and zero emissions building,” Brundell said. “Teams had the option to work in tandem with mentors throughout the USGBC Minnesota Chapter. Projects were judged by experienced professionals in the sustainable field.” Brundell noted that the competition attracted outstanding submissions, which were later showcased to hundreds of professionals during a breakfast at the IMPACT 2012 Conference.”

Architectural Technology Instructor Beverly Claybrook served on the competition’s judging panel. Claybrook is also the faculty advisor for the college’s USGBC Student Group. As a LEED Accredited Professional with the specialty Building Design + Construction, or LEED AP BD+C, she recognizes the importance of green best practices in the design, construction and technology fields.

“Clients and employers in the architecture and interior design industries are looking for graduates who have more than just a passing acquaintance with sustainability,” Claybrook said. “They are expecting our graduates to have a solid understanding of green building materials and techniques. We emphasize green in our program, which is why many of our students are earning their LEED Green Associate credential before they graduate. The USGBC Natural Talent Design Competition was the ideal way for students and emerging professionals to not only spotlight what they’re learned, but to also help integrate sustainable building principles in the flow of mainstream thinking.”

2012 USGBC Natural Talent Design Competition | 2nd place design: Jellyfish from Cuningham Group Architecture

2012 USGBC Natural Talent Design Competition | 3rd place design: Jellyfish from Cuningham Group Architecture

Katharine Huus and Anne Farniok, instructors in the college’s Interior Design program, are both LEED AP. Huus and Farniok served as mentors for the two DCTC teams participating in the competition, The Green Girls and Dynamic DCTC Designers. The instructors took mentorship to the next level by introducing the competition as part of their program’s summer curriculum. The resulting class, Sustainable Building Systems and Regulations, combined theory and facts in the design of an actual space. Farniok’s instruction explored a studio focus with Huus teaching the tenets of the LEED rating system.

Matt Brooks, a Landscape Horticulture instructor and landscape architect, advised the DCTC teams as well,” Huus said. “My husband, Mark Huus, a licensed architect with Amcon Construction, also served in a mentoring role.”

Farniok noted that both teams presented their designs to Terry Olsen, AIA, CSI, LEED AP BD+C, a TKDA project architect and project manager, at the TKDA offices in St. Paul. “Presenting their designs under real-world, professional conditions was a great experience for our students,” Farniok said.

Jennifer Brundell added that the 2013 Natural Talent Design Competition will take on designing an addition to a local school as part of Green Schools Coalition plans to share the classroom of the future and fundamentally change the way Minnesota students learn about the world around them.

“We have chosen a great site host with an intriguing focus for this competition,” said Brundell. “We should have no trouble attracting participants for a project of this caliber.”

2012 USGBC Natural Talent Design Competition

DCTC and members of USGBC MN approached the Sustainable Learning Center competitive design process with the goal to use winning designs as a model for a future project.

2012 winners:

Site Plan

Site Plan

Site Plan

Other participating teams:
For more information about the USGBC Minnesota Chapter, USGBC Minnesota Emerging Professionals and the 2013 Natural Talent Design Competition, contact:
  • Jennifer Brundell
    LEED Green Associate
    2013 Natural Talent Design Competition Chair
    USGBC MN Emerging Professionals Chair-Elect
For more information about Architectural Technology and the USGBC Student Chapter at DCTC, contact:
  • Beverly Claybrook
    Architectural Technology Instructor
    USGBC Student Group Advisor
For more information about Interior Design at DCTC, contact:
  • Katharine Huus
    Interior Design Program Director and Instructor
  • Anne Farniok
    Interior Design Instructor


One Response to “USGBC Students LEED the Way”

  1. Jean Roberts Says:

    A wonderful project that integrates common design disciplines and social respinsibilities at the collegiate level. You provided a high quality competition that is current and relevant to design now and in the future . Congrats to the DCTC faculty design team for taking the lead in this project!