Working for the green

Posted 10/7/09

It’s no secret that the West is pioneering a “new clean energy economy” and that Colorado is a front runner in the development of green …

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Working for the green


It’s no secret that the West is pioneering a “new clean energy economy” and that Colorado is a front runner in the development of green businesses and jobs.

Community colleges across the state are joining the effort to train a renewable energy workforce.

Arapahoe Community College is one of the first schools in Colorado and in the nation to adopt the “Green Advantage” program this fall, a model program providing green credentials for workers in the building industry.

Red Rocks Community College is the other school piloting the program this fall.

Soon, all 13 community colleges in Colorado will offer the training and certification.

“The (program) will help provide a foundation for job opportunities in building Colorado’s New Energy Economy,” said Pamela Campos, Environmental Defense Fund Staff Attorney.

Arapahoe Community College’s role is to administer the test for the Green Advantage Certification.

Certification as Green Advantage builder better prepares students to find work in the state’s burgeoning new-energy technology and construction fields, Gov. Bill Ritter said at a Sept. 30 press conference at Red Rocks Community College.

In order to become a certified practitioner, students must demonstrate foundational knowledge, comprehension, application and ability to analyze green construction concepts, materials, and practices by passing the exam with a score of 75 percent or higher, the Web site says.

Particular emphasis is given to understanding the role of construction personnel in improving the environmental and health attributes of their environment.

“The West has big clean energy resources and that means big job opportunities for students with the right training,” said John Nielsen, Western Resource Advocates Energy Program director.

The cornerstone of the new-energy economy will be retrofitting energy-inefficient homes as well as constructing new energy-efficient buildings, according to a new-energy jobs report on the governor’s web site. The report estimates that by 2030, energy-efficient construction may account for 30 percent of the new-energy economy.

Positions range in salary from $20,000 per year for an installer to $140,000 for a director of development position.

Over the past five years, 2,300 megawatts of new wind projects have been deployed in the region, generating enough electrical power to serve the needs of about 1.7 million homes, according to Clean Energy Pioneers, the coalition of agricultural, energy and conservation organizations creating a new frontier of economic opportunity through homegrown clean energy solutions.

Other abundant clean energy resources in the West include wind, solar and geothermal energy.

And it’s at community colleges and technical schools where students have the most access to hands-on programs, offering degrees and certificates in the arenas involving solar power, biofuels, wind and geothermal energy, according to the Clean Energy Pioneers.

“There are many more programs and opportunities at community colleges, technical schools, universities, and other institutions across the region,” Clean Energy Pioneers said.

Community Colleges in Arizona, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming are joining Colorado’s efforts and pioneering clean energy educational programs.

In September of 2008, Arapahoe Community College launched its Solar Energy Installer Photovoltaic Program, preparing entry-level installers for the NABCEP Exam, a recognized credential for solar-pv systems installation. A Solar Hot Water Program provides installation training for thermal solar systems.

An interactive map — available at — highlights the new programs and other community colleges across the Rocky Mountain West that offer training programs to prepare students for opportunities in the West’s clean energy economy.


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