Brian Dunbar: A Green Teacher

Teaching sustainability and green building practices are a few of Brian Dunbar’s passions.

| January/February 2004

  • Brian Dumbar, a U.S. Green Building Council LEED Accredited Professional, is director of the Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State University and a professor in the Construction Management Program, which offers a graduate emphasis and coursework in sustainable building.

Rants and raves from our board

Teachers will tell you the best rewards come when they watch a student suddenly catch onto the joys of learning. I am a fortunate teacher. During the past ten years, I’ve witnessed a growing number of young individuals embrace learning about green design and construction.

My teaching and research focuses on healthy, energy effective, sustainable building as an integral part of design and construction. This focus attracts highly motivated students from a variety of backgrounds, united by a genuine desire to bring earth-minded problem solving to building projects. A twenty-year-old construction management student recently said that in green building he has “found a way to be truly ‘constructive’ rather than destructive.” He and many other students hope to learn how to repair and restore nature while they build. Not long ago, this would have been viewed as too idealistic. However, today’s students derive inspiration from successful examples and case studies accessible on the Internet, from organizations such as the Rocky Mountain Institute and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and from publications such as Natural Home.

Grabbing onto green building

Whether I’m lecturing to freshmen, graduate students, or professional groups, there are invariably individuals who make a point to tell me they’ve pledged their careers to working on sustainable built environments. These aren’t idle promises. Once a student internalizes the significance of our increasingly unhealthy planet, climate change, species extinction, and other well-established side effects of industry and individual waste, they grab onto the notion of green building and refuse to let go.

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