A Review of My REALTOR® University Graduate Degree: A Class by Class Breakdown; Part 1: LEED Design, Construction and Sustainability


This article was written by Leanne Goff, a current REALTOR® University Masters of Real Estate student, and is Part 1 of a 12 Part Series.

REALTOR® University, oh how you have helped me… allow me to count the ways.

Each class that I have taken has been interesting, challenging and has added to my career in a manner that I never could have imagined two years ago when starting the program. Because of all that REALTOR® U has provided me in knowledge, connections and process I wanted to return the favor by telling the story of my experience through this educational process. In this way I am hoping that other REALTORS® who might be on the fence about the benefits of the program can see firsthand how they too might benefit from a Master’s Degree in Real Estate.

The first class in my journey as I embarked upon the program in August of 2014 was LEED Design, Construction and Sustainability (RE590). The instructor for this course is Danette O’Neal who has a shining personality, passion for teaching and a relentless attention to detail. The benefits of this class have had a lasting impression on my career.

To start, it evolved my perspective on environmental design. Then this knowledge was applied to the community where I sell real estate, in Boulder, Colorado. Finally, one of the most important benefits was how my professor demanded that I grow my writing and professional presentation skills. All of these experiences together transformed the way that I look at environmental construction while simultaneously forming my future experience at REALTOR® U.

The class of LEED Design taught us to be forward thinking about environmental construction considering both building design and the overall concept of the neighborhood. One of the first things we did was evaluate what green design really means. On the surface, there are construction techniques that have been developed to help reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. However, we also found that it’s not just how the home is built; it is where and with what community minded techniques are embodied.

For example, a community that is environmentally focused is centrally located where homeowners don’t need to rely on their vehicles for transportation. This is more balanced than a green-built neighborhood in the suburbs where there is a heavy reliance on fossil fuels to commute to work or access services.

Another important aspect we evaluated was our local watersheds from the source all the way through to its final destination. Then we discussed how the landscape and driveways can be constructed to capture runoff to maximize its use within the community and increase its return to the natural environment.

Throughout the class, we were asked to produce papers that described actual communities that embraced the topics from class. Being a resident of Boulder, Colorado, where virtually everyone is green-minded, I thought it most natural to write about where I live. The papers that I produced expounded upon the environmental sustainability of our local neighborhoods.

For example, the Prospect Neighborhood in Longmont, CO embodies elements of the new urbanism, where residents are encouraged to mingle in larger central parks instead of private backyards. These parks are also used to mimic the larger, natural landscapes attracting wildlife to the area.

The North Boulder Holiday Neighborhood in our area worked with environmental engineers to develop the land so that it maximizes the collection and reuse of storm water, which is incredibly valuable in our dry climate. Cohousing, as seen in the Washington Village community, encourages neighbors to live as one, helping each other with meals and encouraging activities together.

While Dr. O’Neal was leading us through this information on environmental sustainability, she was also molding my experience as a student. The attention to detail she demanded transformed the way that I developed research papers as she insisted on a very specific, highly formalized system of writing referred to as APA style.

Learning this process actually transformed my mind allowing me to present information with the highest level of professionalism. At first, it was a challenge to get the formatting correct. Down the road, in other classes, this formatting came naturally and immediately impressed many future professors, which I believe had a direct impact on my grades in those classes. Dr. O’Neal’s guidance made me a better student and ultimately more professional at the core of how I communicate, for which I will always be grateful to her.

So, as you can see, this course taught me so much more than just what it means to construct an environmentally sustainable building. This course gave me tools to be used in my communications with my clients and through our blog, as well. I also achieved the ability to present the information with the highest level of professionalism using advanced writing techniques.

Truth be told, one of the papers that was written and posted on our blog also helped me obtain a listing within the Prospect Neighborhood. The sale of that one property paid for half of the education expense for REALTOR® University.

See! There are more benefits to this degree than meets the eye! I will be expanding on these benefits in future blog articles, to be featured once a month. In the meantime, please reach out to me by commenting below or dropping me a personal line at Leanne@TrailRidge.CO or 720-465-7005 to discuss how you might benefit from a Master’s Degree in Real Estate from REALTOR® U.


Leanne Goff is a managing broker with TrailRidge Realty, an independent real estate agency in Boulder, Colo. She has been licensed since 2008, and is active with the Boulder Area REALTOR® Association. Her work with BARA’s YPN led to achieving NAR’s Small Network of the Year Award in 2014. Connect with Leanne on Twitter: @leannegoff, or on LinkedIn.

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