Reflections on BEEnow

Built Environment Education

Many of you are familiar with the BEEnow rating system for schools of architecture. It is being developed and promoted by SBSE colleague Norbert Lechner and other thought leaders to reward architecture schools for excellence in educating for carbon-neutral design—and to thereby encourage such excellence among other architecture programs. The organization’s web page www.beenow.org states that “BEEnow is a voluntary certification program that inspires architecture schools to emphasize the teaching of sustainability so that graduates are competent to contribute substantially to the design of low-carbon buildings.”

Several faculty at Ball State served as peer reviewers for a pilot version of the BEEnow certification approach. We found it generally easy to engage and on target, and anticipate that addressing a full BEEnow certification effort would feel like preparing NAAB accreditation documentation, but at a substantially lower intensity and with less angst. As a follow-up to the peer review I participated in a BEEnow Professional Forum Meeting held in Georgetown on 17 Nov 2017; what a positive and energizing experience. Representatives from several major architecture firms were in attendance. Their connection to BEEnow was as potential beneficiaries of architecture curricula that better prepare graduates to deal with the carbon impacts of buildings.

I was particularly taken by a number of opinions expressed at the forum that included what seems a true and deep desire on the part of the firms to meet their Architecture 2030 Challenge targets; a desire to hire graduates who can actively help meet these goals; a need for new hires/graduates who can thoughtfully use analysis tools to inform design (versus just crunching numbers); and a willingness to look for BEEnow certification when hiring future employees. It would be wonderful if these thoughts and needs from practice could be conveyed to those in leadership positions in architectural education.