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Sustainable Building Advisor Program

The Sustainable Building Advisor (SBA) program teaches you how to apply the fundamental principles of sustainability.

The course offers a hands-on approach to sustainability training that challenges students to recognize and understand problems, identify opportunities, and craft innovative solutions in the built environment. Scope includes global, regional, municipal, commercial, and residential perspectives.

Course participants learn and apply best practices in sustainability sciences, moving beyond the LEED scoring framework towards a holistic approach to sustainability for the designed environment.

The SBA program is recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) as a 400-level "mastery" course in sustainability.

Topics Covered

  • Water use
  • Building materials
  • Lighting
  • Energy efficiency & on-site generation
  • Architecture & building systems design
  • Life cycle analysis
  • Sustainability policy and economics
  • Recycling & repurposing
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Sustainable project siting


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The Sustainable Building Advisor (SBA) Program

  • 2 weekends per month (Fri, Sat) 4 months + certification exam
  • Real-world team project (opportunity for project development)
  • Books, excursions, testing fees all included in tuition
  • Job placement assistance services

Having completed the Sonoran SBAP coursework, participants will have the knowledge, tools, and contacts to:

  • Identify and articulate sustainable building practices and goals
  • Identify and analyze costs and benefits of implementation
  • Communicate effectively with project stakeholders to promote economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable solutions
  • Understand when to apply LEED, Built Green, and other relevant frameworks to projects and operations
  • Take a leadership position in projects, organizations and communities in a rapidly important and complex field

Other details

The Sustainable Building Advisor (SBA) program is offered over the course of 4 months, with two full days of class every other week. A 70% attendance record is required to be eligible for certification. Course content is delivered in lectures and site visits, and students enhance their learning through written assignments and a team project. The course culminates with presentations of the team projects, a certification exam, and a graduation celebration.

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Unit 1: Fundamentals of Sustainable Building and Design

  • The “case” and rationale for green building
  • A view of the current state of green building the region and nationally
  • The principles of sustainability design
  • An introduction to the practicum project

Unit 2: The Importance of Place – Site, Transportation and Land Use Issues

  • An introduction to sustainable site design
  • An understanding of the site planning process
  • Sustainable site analysis and conduct a site assessment Importance of transportation planning, siting, relationship to sustainability
  • Strategies to achieve sustainable transportation patterns and site development

Unit 3: Energy Efficient Design

  • Controlling costs through energy management
  • How the design of building energy systems impacts the human experience and the global environment
  • The value of contextual, holistic approach to building energy system design
  • How a building dynamically interacts with its occupants and the local climate, including renewable energy flows
  • Fundamental building energy systems, including HVAC and lighting

Unit 4: "Green" Materials Selection

  • Factors in material selection and the issue of trade-offs
  • Resources to assist in determining materials appropriateness
  • Analytical process to evaluate materials for a project
  • Material considerations when using the LEED rating program
  • Material considerations when designing a green home

Unit 5: Indoor Environmental Quality & Health

  • Benefits of improving indoor environmental quality
  • Common indoor air pollutants
  • Barriers and solutions to achieving good indoor air
  • Ventilation system design strategies
  • Linkages between health, well-being and productivity
  • Physical, psychological and financial benefits of daylight and views

Unit 6: Water and Site Design

  • Benefits of adopting a natural systems-based approach
  • Sustainable site development patterns
  • Impact reduction through landscape layout, plant selection and placement
  • Outdoor water conservation strategies and practices
  • On-site management methods for storm water and wastewater
  • Indoor water conservation

Unit 7: Sustainable Job Site Operations

  • Construction waste management, site protection and IAQ protection
  • Incorporating green building materials
  • Planning and practices for sustainable construction

Unit 8: Building Operations and Maintenance

  • Facility management (FM) functions, duties of FM department, FM professionals and FM position in sustainability
  • Building Commission (Cx), what it is, how it is accomplished and its critical importance to the performance of a building
  • Effective training programs
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Phoenix, Arizona | Sonoran SBA Program (SoSBAP)

The Sonoran Sustainable Building Advisor Program is held at Phoenix College Downtown, Phoenix, AZ. Next classes begin spring semester 2014.

1. What is the SBA Program?

The Sustainable Building Advisor (SBA) Program is a professional certification program in sustainable design and development. It has been running for over ten years, and is currently offered at 28 locations in North America. Since 1999, over 1400 participants have graduated from the course; since 2005, more than 1000 graduates have passed the professional exam to earn the credential of Certified Sustainable Building Advisor (CSBA). The SBA Program is designed to be national and local at the same time. The course is certified nationally and taught locally by experienced professionals, and participants benefit from this combination of national development and regional delivery. The national curriculum is updated annually, so instructors have access to up-to-the-moment aspects of green building; in addition, instructors are encouraged to supplement the national curriculum with a regional perspective.

2. What is the course about?

The course offers a hands-on approach to sustainability training that challenges participants to recognize and understand problems, identify opportunities, and craft innovative solutions in the built environment. Course participants learn and apply best practices in sustainability sciences in a holistic manner. Scope includes global, regional, municipal, commercial, and residential perspectives.

3. Why should I enroll in the SBA Program?

Whether you are new to this field, are driving sustainability in your organization, or are a LEED AP, becoming a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor (CSBA) gives you the experience and resources you need to be competitive in this growing industry. You will gain the language and decision frameworks used within the field of sustainability, develop a close network of professionals across various industries, and have access to local subject matter experts.

4. What kinds of organizations/companies are currently look for people with SBA training or SBA Certification (CSBA)?

Any organization or company that is serious about “greening” their business or operations would recognize the knowledge gained from this program; Architects, Engineers, Contractors, Developers, Consultants, Municipalities, Large Corporations, Planning Commissions, Real Estate, and Environmental firms are among potential employers.

5. Who should enroll in the SBA Program?

There are no limitations to who can participate in the program, and there are no prerequisites. Many SBAi students have building, design, or environmental backgrounds, though the program is accessible to a wide range of professionals in many different industries, including engineering, government, research, resource conservation, utilities, and consulting.

6. What's the difference between LEED and SBA?

LEED is a decision framework for the LEED green building rating system. The SBA program is a decision framework for sustainability.

7. Why should I consider this course if I'm already a LEED GA/AP, HERS rater or Green Rater?

The SBA Program covers a comprehensive breadth of topics about sustainability and sustainable building, and the CSBA designation signifies that an individual has completed the rigorous 9-month program and has demonstrated knowledge by successful passing of the CSBA exam. Since the SBA Program does cover topics and information that are included in other professional designations, is very complimentary with designations that are more focused on one’s ability to implement the requirements of a specific rating system.

8. What if I am not already in the building related industry?

We all live and work in a built environment, the program covers diverse approaches to sustainability in the built environment, and many people in the class have little or no actual professional building experience. The diverse backgrounds of the participants promotes active conversations from other participants as well as Instructors.

9. How long is this course?

Classes are held two Fridays (9-5) and Saturdays (9-3) per month for four months.

10. If I miss one or more classes, how will that affect my outcome?

To successfully complete the program, you must be able to commit to meet the program requirements. These include the completion of all reading assignments, writing assignments and the course practicum, as well as attendance in a minimum of 16 out of 18 class days. Only once the program requirements have been met will you be eligible to sit for the certification exam. While cohort exams are scheduled within a month from completion of the program, you will have up two years to take it.

11. Will the hours count towards my professional licensing?

The SBA Program fulfills the LEED Green Associate exam eligibility criteria of an education program that addresses green building principles.

12. Can I use those hours as continuing education?

The SBA Program contributes 100 continuing education units for AIA, LEED AP and LEED GA professionals.

13. How much does it cost?

The all-inclusive price for the SBA Program by Phoenix College is $2550.

14. What is included in the price?

Over 100 hours of contact hours taught by local experts with experience and knowledge in each topic area, site visits, all course textbooks and two attempts at the certification exam are included in the price.

15. Can I sign up for only one session?

Due to the comprehensive and collaborative nature of the program, it is disruptive to the participants who have enrolled in the program to allow other individuals to participate in only one session. We do, however, allow prospective course participants to audit 2 hours of a pre-determined lecture. In addition, customized training is available on each of the session topics for organizations.

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