The U.S. Green Building Council has launched an ambitious continuing education program to provide a clearinghouse for in-person and online learning programs related to green building.
The USGBC Education Provider Program announced last month at Greenbuild will give USGBC members, chapters, and affiliates, as well as AEC professional firms, nonprofit entities, building product manufacturers, service providers, media companies, and universities and colleges, the opportunity to offer continuing professional development through the council.
Continuing education is a big player in the AEC industry. The American Institute of Architects alone registers more than 40,000 learning programs a year. The “most used” were “brown bag” lunch programs (24%), local AIA “components” or chapters (16%), AIA conferences (16%), and internal programs by local firms (7%). The American Council of Engineering Companies says that AEC technical and professional firms recommend that their personnel take a median 21 hours of “CE” per year.
The EPP learning center is targeted at design and construction professionals, operations and maintenance staff, corporate real estate executives, government officials, educators, healthcare personnel, and building product makers.
Getting a course approved by the USGBC program will not be easy. Each learning module will be reviewed by three independent experts to make sure it meets specific standards related to course objectives, content, and presentation. Instructors and course developers will also be evaluated to ensure that they know what they're talking about. As with the USGBC's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating program, the Education Provider Program has prerequisites and a point system.
For example, under “Education Format and Materials” prerequisites, course providers must: 1) state the learning objectives at the beginning of the course, 2) show that content and materials are noncommercial and unbiased, and 3) provide a brief course description.
In addition to meeting all prerequisites, courses must achieve 32 of 48 available points under “Education Format and Materials” and 16 of 24 points in “Subject Matter Content” to be approved.
Courses will be graded at three levels, based on their scores: Level 100, “Awareness/Basic Knowledge”; Level 200, “Understanding/Comprehension”; and Level 3, “Application/Implementation.”
The Education Provider Program could become a rich source of revenue for the USGBC.
Education providers will be charged an annual fee: $500 for USGBC chapters; $1,000 for nonprofit, government, or education entities; and $2,000 for businesses and 501(c)6 nonprofits (generally, trade associations). The fee to review each course ranges from $500 to $2,000.
The USGBC program was developed in cooperation with 13 current education providers, including ASHRAE, Boston Architectural College, the Energy Center of Wisconsin, Greenguard, and Ron Blank & Associates.
To get started, education providers are advised to visit www.usgbc.org/epp  to download the following documents: the current catalog of EPP courses, the EPP manual, the course review scorecard, the list of trained EPP reviewers (who will be scoring your program), and the registration link. Also available: webcasts for providers and reviewers to learn more about the program.
For more information, contact: Ryan Snow, Manager, Professional Development, USGBC, firstname.lastname@example.org .