Growing green managers

Community colleges are training “green” managers, reports the New York Times. That can mean a certificate program for a manager who wants to learn about environmental issues or a two-year degree in environmental management.

Lane Community College, in Eugene, Ore., for example, is offering two-year programs — for associate degrees in applied sciences — in energy management, renewable energy or water conservation.

The college, which has an organic garden and changed its faucets and toilets to conserve water, was an early proponent of environmental education, and its degree programs are serving as models for 10 other community colleges, according to Roger Ebbage, director of energy programs at the college’s Northwest Energy Education Institute.

“When we first started two decades ago we were focused on community and residential energy efficiency,” Mr. Ebbage said. “Now we are preparing people to go into the commercial sector anywhere in the country.”

The graduates are in great demand, said Mr. Ebbage.

“They are working for utilities, on engineering jobs, for school districts, cities and the military,” he said. “We’re not going to be in areas where there is no job demand,” he added, noting that some short-term green job training programs have been criticized because they do not always lead to employment in the current economy.

Lane is accelerating its two-year program so students can get to work quickly.  Many of the 25 students in the first class worked in computer and aerospace industries before losing their jobs.  Applicants must demonstrate mastery of algebra, at a minimum.

Lane is using a federal grant to help 10 other community colleges develop energy management programs. For example, Delaware Technical and Community College is offering an applied energy program to train “green power” technicians and managers. Students will be able to earn a two-year degree in energy management or solar energy management.

In rural areas, would-be green workers can earn online environmental degrees and certificates, according to a survey of 321 community colleges by the University of Louisville’s National Research Center for Career and Technical Education.

Rod P. Githens, one of the authors and assistant professor of work force education at the University of Louisville, said many of the green learning programs were for workers in transition and required education beyond a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree.

The College of Southern Maryland, in La Plata, offers management programs in environmental planning and environmental management.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON August 30, 2010

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