This is a press release submitted to the Las Vegas Sun. It has not been verified or edited by the Sun.
Green Construction Program produces first graduate Program set to raise sustainability bar in Southern Nevada construction
Published on Sun, May 20, 2012 (8:31 p.m.)Las Vegas, NV – May 21, 2012 –The local construction industry enters a new phase this week as the College of Southern Nevada graduates its first student from the new Sustainable Construction Technology program, the first of its kind emphasizing green construction.
Drew Levy becomes the program's first graduate at the ceremony held at the Thomas and Mack on May 21st. The Sustainable Construction Technology program, located at the college’s Western High Tech Center, currently has 43 students learning how to make projects more environmentally friendly as well as gaining the traditional skills needed to work as construction project managers.
Levy graduates from one of three programs at CSN that include sustainable construction and renewable energy courses, according to program head Doug Nelson. Students earn a Certificate of Achievement and an Associate of Applied Science in Construction Technology, Sustainable Construction Technology, or Building Trades, with specializations in Photovoltaic (solar) and Weatherization (energy audit). The programs bring important new capabilities to the construction industry in Southern Nevada and a new quality of life for residential and commercial occupants.
The program is one of a number of green building initiatives that promise to transform the quality of buildings in Nevada, bringing higher energy efficiency, healthier indoor environments, more durable buildings, and greater satisfaction for homeowners and building occupants. Other movements toward sustainability include new building codes that require higher performance of buildings and systems, and greater use of rating systems, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for commercial buildings, and Environments For Living for homes, that verify the energy efficiency and sustainability of buildings.
Levy, a veteran who joined the Coast Guard in the wake of 9/11, saw the degree as a way to combine his love of construction with his desire to promote a sustainable environment. Levy has already established a career in green construction as a residential energy auditor at Energy Conservation Group, verifying construction quality for new ENERGY STAR homes and analyzing existing homes to improve their energy performance. As an officer of Efficiency First Nevada, the professional association of home energy practitioners, Levy is active in promoting energy efficiency and comfort improvements for owners of existing homes.
Green construction helps replace lost jobs
The once-booming construction industry in southern Nevada came to a halt with the recession, losing more than half its jobs. With less demand for new construction, builders are turning to green techniques to attract buyers, emphasizing quality, comfort, and reduced energy costs. Green, or sustainable, construction emphasizes environmentally friendly concepts such as energy efficiency, low toxicity materials, amenities that encourage resource-saving behavior such as recycling, and use of natural daylight instead of artificial light.
High tech materials are sometimes used, but equal emphasis is put on careful building design and meticulous installation. The work requires higher worker skills in areas such as calibrating newly installed heating and cooling equipment, sealing ducts and building penetrations, and installing insulation properly. Buildings built to a higher standard will remain cost effective to operate, more durable, and more comfortable for occupants throughout their life.
With less demand for new buildings, many now look toward improving existing buildings as a source of construction jobs. The CSN program teaches students how to find the problem areas in older homes and buildings, and how to improve buildings so that they function better than new. Unlike large construction projects where resources are spent more on materials or heavy equipment, the main resource needed in home improvement jobs is the individual construction worker. Building upgrades therefore create employment that cannot be outsourced.
Levy has found a satisfying occupation with plenty of work in his position as an energy auditor. Much of his work involves rating the energy performance of new homes, which are still being built at the rate of about 500 per month, according to the Southern Nevada Home Builders’ Association (http://www.snhba.com/economic_indicators.html). But with tight financing and a low stock of homes for sale, homeowners are staying in their homes and improving them rather than moving.
Energy auditors perform a whole-house analysis using diagnostic equipment to tell homeowners which improvements will yield the best energy savings, as well as fix problems such as hot or cold rooms. Energy auditing became a licensed occupation in Nevada in 2011, and requires practitioners to have training in building science, with certification by a national professional organization such as the Building Performance Institute (BPI) or the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET).
About Efficiency First Nevada
Efficiency First Nevada/Nevada Building Performance Professionals is the statewide professional organization for persons working in residential energy efficiency. Practitioners are trained and certified to analyze all aspects of a home and specify improvements so that it performs to its best capacity, with comfort for occupants, a healthy indoor environment, safe operation of mechanical equipment, and energy efficiency. Home efficiency helps Nevada's economy by reducing statewide demands on energy resources and creating jobs. With chapters in Las Vegas and Reno, Efficiency First Nevada promotes high standards in the residential energy retrofit work and is a chapter of the national Efficiency First network. Visit us at http://efficiencyfirstnevada.org.