Posts Tagged ‘energy audits’

LEED-ing the Way

Friday, August 6th, 2010

leed_certification

What is LEED?

This week, Sinclair Community College student Senya Oji-Njideka described the school’s Civil Engineering Technology program, which emphasizes energy conservation and energy analysis. In the course of his description, he mentioned several national programs being implemented to help save energy. One of those is the LEED building certification program — we did a little more homework to find out what LEED is all about and why it’s critical to Architectural Technology students — or anyone who is interested in buildings, and in the future of the planet.

LEED actually stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The voluntary certification program was at the forefront of the energy conservation effort, established in 1998 by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). If a building has been “LEED-certified” it means that it is environmentally sound, constructed with materials and methods that are water-efficient and energy-efficient. It also means that it was designed with an eye to reduced carbon emissions and improved indoor air quality.

Within the U.S., more than 15,000 buildings have been LEED-certified, and that number is increasing as businesses and institutions become more concerned with the environment. Certification is based on a point-based ranking, and a building gains points based on seven different categories: Energy and Atmosphere; Sustainable Site; Indoor Environmental Air Quality; Materials and Resources; Water Efficiency; and Innovation in Design. Points are given for such things as using low-emitting materials in painting, flooring and adhesives to reusing existing materials during a reuild to creating a water efficient landscape.

So, what does this all mean to Senya and other students interested in careers in the building industry?

It means that, going forward, a thorough knowledge of LEED requirements is extremely useful — and often mandatory — for careers in Architectural Technology and Civil Engineering. The USGBC offers “LEED Professional Accreditation” to demonstrate a person’s expertise and ability to guide a building project through the LEED certification process. Exams are given in several categories, including the LEED-NC (New construction/major renovation), LEED-EB (Existing Building) and LEED-CI (Commercial Interior).

Check out the USGBC website where you’ll find plenty of background on green building initiatives as well as LEEDS-related laws and incentives that are being implemented in communities throughout the country to promote environmentally responsible building projects — both commercial and residential. The website also goes into more detail regarding LEEDS certification requirements and can direct you to exam-prep courses and other instruction to help prepare for LEEDS accreditation testing.

Growing Green Jobs

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Last week’s State of the Union address was all about jobs, and one promising avenue for job growth the President highlighted is the new green economy.

In his speech, Obama framed the need to invest in those types of jobs in terms of keeping pace with international competitors like China, Germany and India. “These nations aren’t playing for second place. They’re putting more emphasis on math and science. They’re rebuilding their infrastructure. They’re making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs.”

Indeed, according to a New York Times report, China is now the world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines and is making gains in other green fields as well.

If America wants to keep up, ATE programs at community colleges will be vital to training new green workers and retraining older workers for new green jobs. Perhaps that’s why President Obama repeated his call for more funding for community colleges in his speech last week, calling them “a career pathway for the children of many working families.”

There are two sides to greening the economy: investing in new renewable energy projects or cleaner transportation infrastructure like high-speed rail; and improving energy efficiency in order to better conserve heat and electricity. We saw an example of each of these types of green jobs in this week’s episode. At Laramie County Community College in Wyoming, students are learning how to operate and maintain the wind turbines that are popping up across the West.

Meanwhile, at Sinclair Community College, students are working with local affordable housing groups to conduct green energy audits and weatherize homes. And both of these types of jobs need to be done here, in America; they can’t be sent overseas.

The hope is that last year’s unprecedented federal investment in basic scientific research will seed a new green manufacturing sector, building advanced batteries and solar cells. That will mean new green jobs for laid-off manufacturing workers, but first they’ll be need to be retrained. And ATE programs at community colleges across the country will be on the front lines of that training.

Click here to read about some of the green job titles expected to see the biggest growth in the coming years.

ATETV Episode 20: It’s All about Jobs

Monday, February 1st, 2010

ATETV hits a milestone with its 20th episode this week, and we’re marking the occasion by focusing on the issue of jobs and the needs of our workforce. In particular, this week we look at how ATE programs are training students for work in the new green economy, and to meet the high demand for technicians in many fields.

First, we head out to Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where Jonathan Terry is studying to be a wind turbine technician. Jonathan actually has a bachelor’s degree in international business, but he went back to school because he saw that wind energy is a growing industry.

Jonathan’s story illustrates a larger issue we cover in our second segment this week: the need for skilled technicians in many industries, from green tech to lab work. “The ability for the two-year community colleges to deliver these workers as quickly as they can, this is an area that has become critical to the United States economic position in the world,” says Ellen Bemben of the Regional Technology Corporation.

Finally, we take a look at one specific type of green job that’s in high demand. Sinclair Community College is partnering with affordable housing groups to conduct energy audits and weatherize homes. “It creates an awareness about what can be gained from energy efficiency,” says Sinclair’s Bob Gilbert. “And the possibilities for our students in the job market just keeps increasing and increasing.”

As the country continues to focus on creating more opportunities for the future, students should look into community colleges as a fast, cost-effective way to prepare for secure, in-demand careers.