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Special Topics- Sustainable Building and Smart Growth Systems

Number: ECO 697DL
Credits: 3
Format: In person, Online, Mount Ida

Semester: Fall
Meeting Times: Fridays 10am-12pm
Room: Mt. Ida & Online

LMS Link


Paul Wolff,


Office: Mount Ida Campus
Email: pwolff@umass.edu

Office Hours | Faculty Page | LinkedIn

Course Description

This course will introduce primary aspects of sustainable building and smart growth certification systems (SBSG) such as the WELL Standard, the Living Building Challenge, Passivhaus and LEED for Neighborhood Development, Cities and Communities. Through instructor-led, individual and collaborative exercises, discover the core concepts and standards related to high performance building systems and interact with front-line practitioners and learn from case-study examples of high-performance buildings. Structured assignments provide the opportunity to grasp real-world challenges and impacts, and to understand the dramatic increase in momentum, scale and complexity of advanced, holistic performance standards during the last 20 years since the first high certification programs were introduced.

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Learning Goals

  • Identify the impacts that buildings have on the environment
  • Illustrate the benefits of using sustainable building certification programs 
  • Articulate core components of programs (LBC Core Imperatives, the WELL Knowledge Domains, the LEED Neighborhood Development Credit Categories and Quality Criteria for Passive House)
  • Construct a matrix that differentiates between programs
  • Devise a hands-on display/exhibit or research project that conveys key tenants of a selected sustainable building certification program or prepare for the associated industry credential exam


LEED core concepts guide: an introduction to LEED and green building, 3rd Edition (2014). U.S. Green Building Council, Washington, DC. ISBN 978-1932444322.

LEED reference guide for building design and construction (2013). U.S. Green Building Council, Washington, DC. ISBN 978-1932444186.

McCombs, H. (2014). LEED Green Associate Exam Preparation Guide, LEED v4 Edition. American Technical Publishers, Orland Park, IL. ISBN 978-0826912947.

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