Building a Greener Future
Steve Mead, Professor and Associate Chair of Construction Management at
Northern Arizona University, is a leader on many fronts. He oversees the
university's nationally-recognized construction management program and is at
the head of the green building movement both on campus and in the community.
Mead pairs his expertise from more than 25 years in construction with his
interest in emerging technology to build greener, more energy and cost-efficient
"We started a green team and kicked around some ideas on how we could
build green buildings at the university," he says. "We decided we
needed to build an iconic green building that would demonstrate what our
environmental ethic is: that building became the Applied Research and Development
building, which won the prestigious Royal
Institute of British Architects International Award in 2009."
Mead started educational programs for both the university and the
surrounding communities to focus on similar types of energy-efficient buildings.
Key examples include the Coconino County Sustainable Building Program and Northern
Arizona University’s Climate Action Plan, which Mead says has the potential to
make a huge difference.
Mead also advocates sustainability through course offerings. Many construction
management courses also offer service learning projects, classroom
demonstrations, and internships, which Mead says contribute to the program's
"We do a lot of different things in our program with experiential learning,
including service learning projects," Mead says. "We build ramps for disabled
people. We have been to Mexico with an archeology team to build a field station
for them. We have done some work for the Engineers Without Borders team. People
come to us all the time for assistance with projects around campus and the
community. It's just something our students do a lot of."
A growing field
Since Mead came to the university in the late ‘90s, the program has grown
from 75 to 250 students from across the country. Mead credits the students for the
"To be a construction manager, you have to be extremely hard
working," he says. "It is a very interesting field in that you are
part business manager and part engineer, but primarily you are a communicator.
It takes a diverse set of technical and communication skills. The students we
get tend to be kids who learn things fast and are good multi-taskers, so
they're good in this program."
Mead aims to continue his mission to help students grow into construction
leaders. "That is just because there is so much demand," says Mead.
"We have kids that graduated 10 years ago and they are now the vice
presidents of pretty big organizations," he says. "There are lots of
wonderful opportunities right now in this field for our students."