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Ecotech Institute Student Team Builds Soil Saturation Watering Device

At Ecotech Institute every student completes a Capstone class where they are required to take what they've learned and apply it through a hands-on team project. Students typically choose a project related to energy efficiency or that can demonstrate alternative energy power. Recently, four students, Tiffany Garduno, Briane Montoya, Jesse Parry, Mark Iverson and Clifford Thompson, worked together to create a watering device that would operate based on soil saturation levels.

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INDUSTRY WATCH: Three Trends all Electrical Engineering Technicians are Tracking

A career in electrical engineering technology has endless possibilities. It's just like a Choose Your Own Adventure book where the reader gets to make choices and is in charge of their experience. The same goes for electrical engineering technicians since they aren't just limited to one field. Because there are so many paths available to technicians it can be tough to predict specific trends in the field.

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What electrical engineering technicians do

Depending on exact duties, EETs can also be called engineering technicians, electronics technicians or instrument and controls technicians.

They are often responsible for identifying issues and finding their solutions.

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EMPLOYER INTERVIEW: Peter Luciano, Service Manager, Konecranes Denver

Industrial cranes might seem like large, looming objects straight out of a Transformers movie. But, for the electrical engineering technicians (EET) working at Konecranes, being around this cool, enormous equipment—and making sure it's functioning correctly—is just another day on the job. Konecranes is the overhead crane industry leader and offers a range of lifting solutions. Ecotech Institute had the chance to chat with Peter Luciano, Service Manager for the Konecranes Denver location, to find out what it is like to work at the crane company with the largest service team in the world.

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Is an electrical engineering career for you?

The renewable energy movement created a demand for new tools, technologies and equipment to help us use our energy more efficiently. This resulted in a growing need for people to help manage, maintain and repair this new gear. For those who love new challenges every day, working with their hands and solving problems, this can be a cool career that keeps them on their toes. It's just the kind of job perfect for someone who dreads being trapped at a desk all day. Think it's right for you?

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How to Tell the Difference Between an Electrical Engineering Technician, an Electrician, and an Electrical Engineer

Some people might think Jell-O, jelly and a Jell-O shot are the same just because of the similarities in their names. There can be similar confusion with jobs or career paths that are closely related or sound alike. Professionals in the field of electrical engineering technology (EET) sometimes come across people who aren't really sure how EET is different from what engineers do. Or what an electrician does.

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Q & A: Mark Jaros, Electrical Engineering Technology graduate from Ecotech Institute

Mark Jaros was no stranger to electronics when he first enrolled at Ecotech Institute. For more than eight years, he ran his own home automation systems company. Then he heard the call of renewable energy. He graduated with a degree in electrical engineering technology in 2014, and started working for DeWind, a wind energy company, as a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) wind technician.

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How tall are wind turbines?

There's a reason the wind energy industry attracts thrill-seekers. Today's wind turbines have doubled in size from a few years ago, standing 328 feet tall on average. Wind technicians get to climb to the very top of the tower of these powerful machines, offering an amazing and exhilarating view.

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1.2 Million Clean Job Opportunities Available in First Quarter of 2015, According to Ecotech Institute’s Clean Jobs Index

California had the most openings in renewable energy jobs, followed by Texas and New York

May 21, 2015 -Denver, Colo.-.-Ecotech Institute's Clean Jobs Index reported more than one million green energy job postings across the nation in the first quarter of 2015. The Clean Jobs Index classifies clean energy jobs based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics description, which says that clean jobs are jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources. The classification also includes jobs in which workers' duties involve making their establishment's production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.

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Wind energy and water conservation

Wind energy isn't just eco-friendly because it uses a natural resource to create electricity. Unlike other power plants, wind turbines require no water to generate power.

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Renewable energy and jobs: Annual review 2015

In this second edition, IRENA estimates that renewable energy employed 7.7 million people, directly or indirectly, around the world in 2014 (excluding large hydropower). This is an 18% increase from the number reported the previous year.

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5 Ways We Could Get More Solar Power

There's a solar boom happening in America. In the last six years, installations of solar panels have jumped 1,700%. Prices for solar energy have fallen 50% to 70%. There's now a well-established ecosystem of installers and service companies, and plenty of finance options, too.

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Ecotech Institute Graduate to Speak at Denver Switch event, Offering Her Ideas for Intelligent Recycling: Creating Treasures from Trash

Event showcases fast-paced TEDx-style presentations on sustainable energy ideas

Denver, Colo. - May 12, 2015 - On Thursday, May 14, Yvette Alley, an Ecotech Institute graduate, will join ten other speakers at Denver's second annual switch event, highlighting sustainable energy ideas. This event gives energy change-makers a few minutes each to present their ideas for social change and industry innovation. Yvette will present on a topic she first wrote a paper on while attending Ecotech Institute, intelligent recycling and vehicle sustainability. She wants companies to start thinking of ways to build a truly smart car, one that uses recycled metals. One idea for this is using the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group near Phoenix, the site of many miles of retired military aircraft.

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How to get a solar-based future, according to MIT

The MIT team behind The Future of Solar Energy, a study released in early May, believes solar alone has the potential to address climate change by mid-century, but warns that are three potential hurdles solar must overcome to fulfill its huge potential.

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Ecotech Institute's President to Join Forum on the Future of Energy at Colorado Energy Expo

Event gathers education and industry leaders to discuss energy innovation and the economic implications for Colorado

Denver, Colo. — May 8, 2015 — On Wednesday, May 13, high school students across Colorado will have the opportunity to learn about the future of the energy industry and potential energy careers. It's all part of Colorado Energy Expo's new "Student Career Development Forum". Chris Gorrie, Ecotech Institute's school president will take part in the forum on "Identifying Pathways toward Energy Careers". Two sessions will be held to discuss this topic. Other energy and education leaders joining Chris will include:

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How popular is solar energy?

The popularity of solar energy is heating up. More than half a million homes and businesses use some sort of solar power, and every four minutes a solar system is installed.

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Ecotech Institute Offers Job Insights, Advice and Resources in Latest eBook: "Starting A Career in Energy Efficiency"

Free, comprehensive guide gives future energy professionals all the tools necessary for a green career change

Denver, Colo. - April 30, 2015 - Ecotech Institute, the first and only college in the U.S. solely focused on renewable energy jobs and sustainability, today announced the release of a new eBook on how to start a career in energy efficiency. This free, comprehensive guide covers everything from a day in the life of energy project managers, potential salary earnings, required skills, and even insights from the CEO of Essess, a company that uses thermal imaging to assess energy efficiency.

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4 jobs in energy efficiency

There's no better time than the present to consider a career in energy efficiency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, energy management services have become an increasingly important part of the American economy.

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5 home energy wasters

We've talked about the work of energy auditors and how they identify inefficiencies and recommend energy-friendly solutions for homeowners and business owners. But what are some of the biggest energy wasters?

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Industry watch: Three Reasons Energy Efficiency Will Rock the World

Energy efficiency has the potential to rock our world - and in a big way. According to the Department of Energy, optimizing energy use can save families hundreds of dollars on their heating and cooling bills in the first year. Collectively, it has reduced the nation's energy bills by more than $2 billion annually.

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Using new technologies in energy efficiency. Q&A with Navi Singh

Essess, a software company specializing in thermal imaging, can do just that. They assess (yes, their name is a clever play on words) energy efficiency and use data to tell utility companies which utility customers are leaking heat so they can then tell their customers where exactly the issue is and what fixes are available.

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Working in energy efficiency: What's it like? Q&A with Evan Anderson

Evan Anderson is a project manager, architectural consultant and certified passive house consultant for Zola Windows, a custom, high-end, high-efficiency window company out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. His company is well known for its work in the passive house design* community, creating innovative, energy-efficient window models to meet rigorous standards of performance.

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Is a renewable energy career for you?

Because careers in energy efficiency are relatively new, you probably wonder if this career field is for you. This eBook is designed to be your complete guide. Want to know how much you'll earn? That's in here.

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6 trends in wind energy that will blow you away

From basic windmills used to pump water to 1.5 MW mega machines weighing up to 164 tons, the way wind is harvested for energy has made huge improvements in the last century. It's basically the difference between a Ford Model T and a Shelby Mustang. Even better, the wind energy industry is just hitting its stride and there are more exciting things coming soon.

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How to start a career in solar energy

The sun. It's a source of light, life and for some, a career. Working in solar energy means not staring at a computer all day, hands-on work, not having the boss constantly looking over your shoulder and solving real problems. Oh, and it's doing something good for the Earth as well. Ever wonder what a typical day is like for someone who works in solar energy? Want to know how much you'll earn? What about where those jobs are? We've got you covered.

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Industry watch: 4 big changes for solar

Even though the first solar cell was created in the late 1800s, the solar energy industry is kind of like a 19-year-old. The industry has been going through a lot of changes – some of them pretty awkward – in the past few years and now it's staring down the glory days of its 20s. Wider adoption, lower costs and better technologies are all part of the future of solar energy.

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Is a career in solar energy right for you?

Napoleon Dynamite said, "Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills." Solar energy companies are just the same. Lots of people get into solar energy because they can't stand working at a desk all day, they want to be in charge of their own schedule and they want a job that makes a difference. But, without the right skills none of that other stuff can happen. This is what it takes to be in the solar energy industry.

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Is a wind energy career right for you?

If the idea of going to work at a traditional desk job sounds boring then it might be time to consider another career option. Lots of people work in wind not only because it gets them outdoors, but also because they find the work challenging and fun. Interested in joining them out there? This is what it takes to be in the wind energy industry.

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What's it like to work in wind energy? Q&A with Paul Roamer

Working in wind is no joke. Just ask Paul Roamer, President of Ethos Distributed Solutions, a Colorado-based company that provides services to the solar, wind and telecom industries. Paul shares what it's like to work in wind energy, what he's looking for in new employees, and common mistakes made on the job.

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How to start a career in wind energy

You know that wind you enjoy on a hot summer day? Well it is the oldest source of energy in the world. And guess what? Harnessing this energy is a job that keeps you from being trapped at a desk. Oh, and you'll also feel good knowing you're doing something good for the Earth every day. This e-book is your complete guide to wind power careers. Ever wonder what a typical day is like? We've got you covered. Want to know how much you'll earn? That's in here too. What about where those jobs are? Yep, all that, and more, is in here.

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Q&A with Ecotech Institute graduate Lawrence Smith

Our planet doesn't have unlimited resources, but for a long time people acted like it did. Luckily, the renewable energy field is finding ways to make use of sustainable resources. Working in the renewable energy field makes a huge difference for the environment, because these jobs focus on addressing climate change and reversing the resource depletion that has already been done.

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Solar power: Coming to a stadium near you

Stadium dogs, beers, thunder sticks and solar panels now have something in common: They can all be found at sports stadiums across the United States. Sports teams across the country have been adopting renewable energy sources, including solar energy, for years.

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Earth Day 2015 and the Rising Role of Renewable Energy

Earth Day 2015

Earth Day always means a great deal to us here at Ecotech Institute. It’s an honor to be part of an industry where students, faculty and alumni strive to make an impact not only for our planet, but our economy as well. This is a growing field, with jobs on the rise as more and more people realize that it’s imperative to start figuring out the best means to use renewable resources.

As we celebrate Earth Day 2015, we want to continue to be on the forefront of helping lead our nation toward an energy efficient world, where renewable resources are used responsibly and effectively.

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The size of solar panels

Solar cells-the things that connect to make a solar panel-come in a lot of different sizes. But most could fit inside a pocket and are typically the size of an iPhone.

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DOE accelerates deployment of renewable energy on tribal lands

Tribal renewable energy resources comprise approximately five percent of all U.S. renewable energy resources, so the facility- and community-scale projects support national energy goals to strengthen tribal energy self-sufficiency, create jobs and further economic development.

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Dow on its way to becoming largest U.S. corporate purchaser of wind energy

This move will make Dow the third largest corporate purchaser of wind energy in the United States and will make the company the first in the U.S. to power a manufacturing site with renewable energy "of this scale," according to Dow. In 2013, Dow set renewable energy goals for itself to be at 400 MW renewable energy by 2025.

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Four Women Who Have Made a Mark in Renewable Energy

Headshot of Jane Weismann

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve been sharing on Facebook and Twitter the stories of four women who’ve made their mark in renewable energy. These individuals are making an impact in green economics, environmental policy, and in the solar and wind industries. Check out each of their stories.

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Power up Success in Clean Energy: Ecotech Institute to Hold "Competitive Landscape of the Green Revolution" Seminar on March 24, 2015

Led by clean energy employer, Craig Mataczynski, and hosted live at Ecotech Institute or simulcast online

Denver, Colo. — March 16, 2015 — To learn what it takes to work and succeed in the clean energy field, Ecotech Institute is hosting a "Competitive Landscape of the Green Revolution" seminar. The event will be held at Ecotech Institute in Aurora, Colo. and will also be simulcast live, for those who cannot attend in person. The free forum, which will be led by Craig Mataczynski, the CEO of Gradient Resources, will offer students and guests, interested in a green energy career, an employer's perspective on what it takes to succeed.

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An Interview with Auston Van Slyke, Wind Energy Technology Program Director

Auston Van Slyke is the Program Director for Ecotech Institute's Wind Energy Technology program. We recently talked with him about the Wind Energy Technology program and how he sees the industry growing in the coming years.

Question: What are you most excited about right now regarding the Wind Energy Technology program?

Auston Van Slyke: We have partnered with Duke Energy to help place our students at power plants across the U.S. Duke Energy is a utility company that is a leader with smart grid technology. They own and operate 60GW of power plants, including solar and wind farms.

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Sustainable Business 2.0

“We are seeing sustainability being embedded more deeply into businesses. It is being seen as a skill that people can’t do without. If we are not addressing these issues at business schools, we won’t capture the huge opportunities that sustainability issues create.” ~Andy Cartland, co-founder of sustainability-focused recruitment company Acre

The Guardian headline caught my eye: Sustainability now key selling point for business schools attracting students. While the article focused, unsurprisingly, on the UK, it did address the issue of business sustainability from a global perspective.

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What Top Business Leaders Have to Say about Sustainability

Paul Polman

Today's top business leaders are taking an increased interest in incorporating socially and environmentally responsible practices. Sustainability in business can sometimes also benefit the bottom line. While it may not be adopted across the board, the following executives are leading efforts by speaking publicly about their support for green business practices.

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Six Celebrities Who are Passionate about Sustainability

Most conversations about celebrities revolve around what designers they’re wearing or whom they’re dating. But these big names in entertainment have used their status and resources to bring the spotlight to a more important issue: sustainability ...

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Solar Is the Choice for Power, Jobs

What’s bright and shiny and rapidly overtaking the oil and gas industry? You guessed it: the solar industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the solar jobs sector employs ...

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Ecotech Institute Names Patrick Longstreth as the School's New Academic Dean

Celebrated software programmer and longtime Ecotech Institute staff member will guide students in their pursuit of an education in renewable energy

Denver, Colorado — Jan. 20, 2015 — Ecotech Institute, the first and only school in the U.S. solely focused on renewable energy and sustainability, today announced Patrick Longstreth as the school's new academic dean. Longstreth is responsible for implementing the vision and strategic direction of Ecotech Institute; ensuring student, graduate and employer satisfaction; and making sure all staff at Ecotech Institute meet the high expectations of the school's students and Ecotech Institute's parent company, Education Corporation of America.

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Ecotech Institute Now Offers Online Associate's Degree in Business Administration - Sustainability

The Business Administration-Sustainability degree program allows career seekers to earn an associate's degree in sustainability online.

Denver, Colo., — January 15, 2014 — Ecotech Institute, the first and only school in the U.S. solely focused on renewable energy and sustainability, today announced that it will offer its Business Administration-Sustainability degree program and several other college courses in sustainability online. This marks a first for students seeking an online degree in sustainability and a first for the Aurora, Colo.-based school. Online degrees focused on environmental sustainability are uncommon at the associate's degree level.

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12 Clean Energy Articles to Start the New Year

I admit it. I am an information junkie. I have 380 blogs/news sites to which I subscribe in Feedly, my favorite RSS reader. Suffice it to say, I peruse the headlines of perhaps 1,000 items most every day, give or take a few LOL cats. Given my obvious interests, many of these articles relate to ...

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The Clean Power Plan and Energy Efficiency

While many coal plants are receiving a “new lease on life” via conversion to natural gasi, this is not the most appropriate long-term solution. Energy Manager Today recently outlined ...

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Who's Afraid of the Clean Power Plan?

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s proposed Clean Power Plan. However, if you follow network news and/or popular political blogs, you’ve more likely heard it referred to as ...

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Viva la Solar Revolution!

America could power itself 100 times over with solar energy. That is a Nov. 20 Washington Post headline describing a report by Environment America Research and Policy Center, Star Power: The Growing Role of Solar Energy in America. Other report findings include ...

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Climate's Big Deal

Veterans Day 2014 will be memorable as the day the U.S. and China perhaps turned the tide in the battle against global warming and climate disruption. Physicist and Founding Editor of Climate Progress ...

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Ecotech Institute Again Named to the 'Best for Vets' List

Ecotech Institute is Ranked 10th among Career and Technical Colleges in 2015

Denver, Colo. — Nov. 14, 2014 — The Military Times has once again named Ecotech Institute to its Best for Vets: Career & Technical Colleges list. The list honors top military friendly schools doing the most for veterans. Ecotech Institute, the first and only school in the U.S. solely focused on renewable energy and sustainability, came in at 10th out of 36 institutions. The Military Times ranks the schools based on what veterans have told them are important, such as university culture, student support, academic policies, academic quality and financial aid.

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Train for a Career that Blows the Rest Away

If working with your hands in the great outdoors is your idea of a good day at work, download our eBook on wind careers to find out how you can train for a career that will let you do just that.

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Clean Energy: Win, Lose, or Draw?

“Win, lose or draw, here’s one nonpartisan issue on which Republicans and Democrats alike should agree: Clean energy works for America.” Did Clean Energy win, lose or ...

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Veterans Day Salute at Ecotech Institute

A crowded room of attendees at our Solar energy Salute to Veterans.

This week, Ecotech Institute hosted a Solar Energy Salute to Veterans Day in conjunction with Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA).

Speakers included Chris Gorrie, president of Ecotech Institute; Rebecca Cantwell, Executive Director of COSEIA; Mark Mahoney, Director of Department of Defense for Regional Environmental and Energy Office-US Army; and John Bringenberg, a faculty member at Ecotech Institute.

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Ecotech Institute Names New President Chris Gorrie

As a longtime Ecotech Institute faculty member with years of in-the-field experience, Gorrie will propel Ecotech Institute to the next level in renewable energy education

Denver, Colo. — Nov. 4, 2014 — Ecotech Institute, the first and only college in the U.S. solely focused on renewable energy and sustainability, today announced Chris Gorrie as its new president. Gorrie's responsibilities include guiding the strategic direction of the school; ensuring satisfaction of students, graduates and employers; and making sure all staff at Ecotech Institute meet the high expectations of students and its parent company, Education Corporation of America.

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Ecotech Institute Wins National Cleantech Award

Colorado Cleantech Awards Logo

Ecotech Institute walked away with a major award this week at the annual Colorado Cleantech Awards Celebration hosted by the Colorado Cleantech Industries Association (CCIA).

The Aurora-based school was named National Cleantech Leader by the CCIA.

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Renewable Energy Costs Dropping: Treats, Not Tricks

The price of utility-scale solar power is 59 percent below where analysts thought it would be at this point back in 2010. The leveled cost of solar power (taking full account for the cost of installation, maintenance, investment, depreciation, and all the other factors in an energy source’s life cycle) is already ...

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Welcome to the Anthropocene!

Appropriating 40% of Earth’s land and 25% of global productive capacity for ourselves – combined with our own population growth and the waste/pollution we produce – explains why humans have ...

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What Scares You?

As we head into the Halloween season, it is hard to find anything scarier than the latest news headlines.
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Ecotech Institute Celebrates Constitution Day

Constitution day was celebrated at Ecotech with copies of the Constitution of the United States of America hung across campus and with Constitution Day cookies.

On September 17, Ecotech Institute staff and students celebrated Constitution Day, the day that commemorates the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Copies of the Constitution were placed prominently throughout the building so students could see this important document firsthand. Students also received commemorative bookmarks printed with the Preamble and enjoyed “Constitution cookies.”

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4 Rules to Become a Networking Master

Networking. It seems simple enough, walk into a room, shake people’s hands, eat some appetizers and leave, right? For a lot of first-timers it’s not that easy. Picture walking into a room filled with some of the most prominent professionals in renewable energy and sustainability ...

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9 Small Changes to Lead a More Sustainable Lifestyle

There are many small things you can do to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. These tips are simple but meaningful and can reduce your environmental footprint. Another advantage? You’ll find that making some of these changes can also lead to other benefits, such as improving your health or helping you save some cash ...

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Are You a Sustainability Ninja?

The choices you make every day either help or harm the environment. When you make sustainable choices, you directly help the planet. What are you doing in your daily life to be more sustainable? You might be a sustainability ninja if you ...

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Q&A with Solar Roadways founder, Scott Brusaw

You may have heard the buzz around Solar Roadways, a green tech company offering a solution to the increasing energy crisis through solar power. Cofounders, Scott and Julie Brusaw, have received funding from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration and have found supporters around the world, raising over one million dollars through ...

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Get in Gear: 3 Interesting Facts about Gearboxes

Our planet does not have unlimited resources, and fortunately, the renewable energy field is finding ways to utilize sustainable resources. Working in the renewable energy field makes a huge difference for the environment, because these jobs focus on addressing climate change and reversing ...

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Working in Renewable Energy: What's it Like?

Our planet does not have unlimited resources, and fortunately, the renewable energy field is finding ways to utilize sustainable resources. Working in the renewable energy field makes a huge difference for the environment, because these jobs focus on addressing climate change and reversing ...

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Top 10 Green Cities in America - Part 2

Becoming a green city takes significant planning and resourceful development. Last week we released the top five green cities in America, and shared what they have done to become more sustainable. Now we are revealing the next five cities on the list. Read on to find out which ones made the top 10!

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Top 10 Green Cities in America - Part 1

Cities across the U.S. are stepping up and designing initiatives and policies to become more sustainable. These green cities serve as models for effectively implementing solutions that address climate change. By executing these initiatives, a city becomes a cleaner and healthier place to live. Another bonus is economic growth, because cities are now focusing more on bringing in green jobs to ...

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The Times, They Are A-changin’

As an avid follower of science and sustainability news via an increasingly unwieldy collection of RSS feeds, I have been stunned by the events of this past week. I’ll start with one of the more visible news events: The 400,000 folks who participated in ...

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Beyond the Limits to Growth

Déjà vu all over again…

A September 1 headline from The Guardian read:  “Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we’re nearing collapse.” The subtitle elaborated: “Four decades after the book was published, Limit [sic] to Growth’s forecasts have been vindicated by new Australian research. Expect the early stages of global collapse to start appearing soon.”

(For those of you who may not know, The Limits to Growth (1972) by authors Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jørgen Randers, and William W. Behrens III is an eco-classic “about the computer modeling of exponential economic and population growth with finite resource supplies.” )

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What Does an Energy Auditor do?

Job Opportunities for Facilities Managers

You may be most familiar with the term “audit” in the context of a financial review. While one goal of energy audits is dollar savings, energy auditors are reviewing the inflows and outflows of energy in buildings rather than dollars in monetary accounts. A fiscal auditor ensures that your budget is sound from the standpoint of economics and finance; an energy auditor ensures that your building is sound from the standpoint of physics.

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Of Negawatts and Energy Managers

“Energy-saving technologies keep improving faster than they’re applied, so efficiency is an ever larger and cheaper resource.” ~Amory Lovins

Energy efficiency is the low-hanging fruit of our sustainable future. The cheapest unit of energy is the one you don’t have to produce. In a now-famous 1990 article, energy expert Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute captured this concept in his term, “negawatt” (i.e., “negative watt”). In a 2012 retrospective, Slate magazine’s “Welcome the Negawatt Revolution” explains:

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The Ideal Facility Manager

“An ideal facility manager must have Aristotle’s logic and Solomon’s wisdom, a priest’s discretion and a gambler’s poker face, a lawyer’s shrewdness and a marketing director’s charm, a gladiator’s guts, a marathon runner’s perseverance and a sprinter’s speed, a leatherneck’s toughness and a dancer’s agility, lots of good luck and 30 hours per day.”  ~Unknown Source

A couple of months ago, we established that Facilities Managers are not janitors. But I don’t like defining things by what they’re not. So let’s take another look at what it takes to play the role of a facility manager.

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Huge Surge in U.S. Clean Energy Jobs

In a recent blog post, I discussed how there were 6.5 million people employed worldwide in renewable energy in 2013—a 14% increase from 2012. (Cue late-night infomercial voice…) But wait, there’s more!=

We just reviewed employment data from our free online tool, the Clean Jobs Index, for the past year. The Jobs category of the Clean Jobs Index uses actual clean economy job numbers for each state, as provided by Burning Glass, a management-owned company founded by scientists and dedicated to leading technologies for matching people with jobs. Data is cross-referenced to “green jobs,” as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Drum roll, please…)

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Meet the Brains behind the “Energy Moonshot”

You’ve probably heard of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or as Fast Company’s Jessica Leber elaborates, “the military’s research agency that funds the development of mind-reading science, cyborgs, and deadly robots.” But have you heard of ARPA-E? As you might can guess from the title of this article, the “E” stands for Energy. Indeed, ARPA-E is the U.S. Department of Energy’s analog to DARPA, and it’s only five years old.

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Will Cosmos’ Success Inspire Science and Sustainability Education?

What's out of this world and received 12 Emmy award nominations? Well, COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY, of course!

The now-completed first season of this popular 13-part series is both a tribute to Carl Sagan's classic original – and a much-needed 30+ year update. When the premier episode gathered 8.5 million viewers nationally and total audience of 40 million viewers worldwide, it was clear the "Ship of the Imagination" had a successful re-launch.

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Wind energy student networks with U.S. Senator

Not many college students can say they've rubbed elbows with senators. But, Ecotech Institute's own Mia Desmedt is able to say just that. She met U.S. Senator Mark Udall of Colorado at an event for women in energy hosted at RES Americas headquarters this past May.

The event, where Mia also met U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, gave women in Colorado's wind industry the opportunity to discuss the latest industry news and network. Mia, a student in Ecotech Institute's Wind Energy Technology program, was one of the only students in attendance and shared some insights from attending her first industry event.

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The Future of Electrical Engineering Technology

There are a lot of exciting things happening in the world of electrical engineering technology. What might be most exciting is how the potential developments of today will drive tomorrow. For example, how will the technologies of today change what power sources look like in 2064? Luckily, the writers at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering's (commonly called IEEE or I-triple-E) Spectrum magazine recently explored this issue and others as part of a special report that marked the 50th anniversary of the magazine. If everything goes the way they hope, the future could be one of individuals and businesses being able to have more control over their own individual power sources.

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I Can Have a Green Job?

Stalin is purported to have said, "A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic." It's kind of like that (but in a positive sense) with jobs…one is a lifeline; a million is a statistic. So what can we say about 6.5 million jobs, in the worldwide renewable energy industry, no less? Can I at least get a "Woo hoo!"?

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Considering a degree in Power Utility? 6 things you need to know

Have you ever thought about the power lines and stations that send power to your house? The people who install, maintain and improve our power supply are called power utility technicians and they play a very significant role in society. "I can't think of a more important career mission than pursuing a job in this field," said Patrick Longstreth, a program director at the Ecotech Institute. If you're interested in making a difference by joining this field, Mr. Longstreth offered these six things to know:

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What's the Triple Bottom Line?

It is hard to believe, but there was a time when no one even thought to question the sustainability of a business. As awareness grew on the significant impact corporations have on people and the planet, pressure was put on businesses to act more responsibly. In order to address consumer concerns, businesses began to look for a way to measure more than just profit, and two more bottom lines were added to the mix. The Triple Bottom Line (TBL) is a framework that allows businesses to measure its sustainable development and make sure it is meeting its goals. Today, a business could never be successful if it completely disregards how its practices impact our world. In the book The Triple Bottom Line, Andrew Savitz writes, "a sustainable business stands an excellent chance of being more successful tomorrow than it is today, and remaining successful, not just for months or even years, but for decades or generations." For these reasons, it is very likely the company you join will use TBL to evaluate its performance.

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5 Surprising Facts About Wind Power

Wind power has shown tremendous potential as a source of renewable energy. Its popularity is also steadily increasing. Adoption of wind power in the U.S. can be seen in celebrations of Global Wind Day on June 15 across the country, as well as through initiatives to increase wind power use by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Wind Program. While you may have heard about some of the benefits of wind, we want to share some facts that you might not know about and blow you away.

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Let Me Tell You a Story...

As a communicator in the field of renewable energy, I can tell you that very few people's minds are changed by "facts." The overwhelming science-based evidence is quite clear on topics ranging from immunizations not causing autism to humans causing global warming. But try to convince someone who believes otherwise simply by quoting research statistics, and I'll bet you get nowhere.

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New Equipment Gives Hands On Experience Where Needed

Ecotech Institute has always prided itself on providing students with real world learning opportunities. Students considering degrees in the power utility, renewable energy or residential energy management industry can now find unprecedented access to the latest technology in the field with power equipment modules and training equipment.

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4 Sustainable Ways to Celebrate Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice is just around the corner. According to the Farmer's Almanac it's on June 21. The Summer Solstice (there's a Winter one too) marks the time when the sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere that means it's also the day of the year that has the most sunlight. To help you celebrate the longest day of the year, we've put together this list of sustainable ways enjoy it. Add your own in the comments!

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Facilities Managers... We're Not Janitors

If I were to ask you, "What does a Facilities Manager job entail," what would you answer? (Hint: If you think this has something to do with janitorial services, you're way off!)

According to Wikipedia, "Facility management (or facilities management or FM) is an interdisciplinary field devoted to the coordination of space, infrastructure, people and organization, often associated with the administration of office blocks, arenas, schools, convention centers, shopping complexes, hospitals, hotels, etc."

To this definition, Wikipedia adds: "However, Facility Management facilitates on a wider range of activities than just business services and these are referred to as non-core functions." Does this remind you of the "…and all other duties as assigned" clause that now seems to be the standard in all job descriptions?

Whatever Facilities Manager jobs may entail, one thing facilities managers are not is janitors. FM may be a generalist role, but it is not a low-level custodial or housekeeping role.

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Explore the power and possibilities of wind on Global Wind Day

Global Wind Day is celebrated on June 15, with hundreds of events organized around the world designed to help promote wind power energy and it's potential for creating a sustainable environment. The worldwide observance was originally coordinated in 2009 by The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) through a network of partners.

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The Coming Solar Job Boom and More News

Although recent reports have stated that investment in solar energy has decreased since 2011, the solar energy industry is poised to boom, says David Glenn at CleanTechnica. Since the overall cost of solar power has dropped 60% since the start of 2011, advancements in solar technology are becoming more and more efficient and more people are choosing solar energy for their homes and businesses. As Glenn writes, "Solar power may be old news, but its news that residents around the world are finally starting to embrace."

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Why Are Veterans Drawn Toward Green Energy Jobs?

Exciting news for veterans interested in renewable energy! A new initiative, Operation Free, is connecting veterans to green energy initiatives across the U.S. Sponsored by the Truman Project for National Security and the Center for National Policy, Operation Free writes, "We recognize that climate change and our dependence on oil are national security threats. We fight on a local, state, and federal level for strong clean energy policies."

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It’s The End Of The World As We Know It

“It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)” ~R.E.M.

“NASA-funded study: industrial civilization headed for ‘irreversible collapse’?” asked a March 14 article by Nafeez Ahmed on The Guardian’s web site. Such headlines always catch my eye; I’ve been an avid reader of the history of the end of the world since the 1970s classic The Limits to Growth. More recently, there’s been Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, and multiple updates to The Limits to Growth, including Jorgen Randers’ 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, which I covered in a previous blog post.

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Who Is Winning at Solar Energy? Industry Updates from Around the U.S.

There’s never been a better time to look for jobs in the solar energy industry. The U.S. Department of Energy recently reported that its 2011 SunShot Initiative has been completed by 60% in 3 years. This means it’s nearly 2/3 of the way to its goal of achieving cost-competitive utility-scale photovoltaic energy in the U.S. The project was originally slated to take 10 years, but with 60% completion by year 3, it’s way ahead of schedule. Costs for installing solar voltaic panels have dropped significantly in the past 3 years, making the way for more widespread solar energy adoption – and potentially more jobs for solar technicians.

 

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Solar Energy Training - Denver, CO - Ecotech Institute

Todd Valdez, a Solar Energy Technology graduate from Ecotech Institute, talks about how Ecotech Institute helped prepare him to operate his own solar energy business, which designs and installs solar power systems for residential use.

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Safety Must Be A Commitment in Wind Energy

Alden Zeitz writes as a guest blogger for Ecotext in this post.  He is a member of Ecotech Institute’s national board of advisors. He is the Manager of Renewable Energy Services for Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative and offers of wealth of experience in the wind energy sector.

Day-to-day operation of a wind generation site can be a daunting experience, even for the most experienced professional. At any given time a number of tasks can simultaneously occur on site.  Successfully managing this effort can be a challenge and is critical to returning those turbines back to service as soon as possible, safely and efficiently.

 

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Ecotech in Focus: Students and Jobs

How many people does it take to change the world?

The answer, of course, is just one. But almost 500 are learning how to change the world for the better at Ecotech Institute. One-hundred and thirteen of them were just added at our Fall Term start on October 2, 2013. Of these:

  • 34 were veterans or relatives of veterans
  • 12 were women
  • 51 were referrals from other Ecotech students
  • 60 had attended college before
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Noah Gershon - Sunetric, Hawaii

Ecotech Institute Alumnus Noah Gershon

I consider myself very lucky because I love my job. It's engaging, I'm always learning something new, and am getting to use and build upon the skills and knowledge I learned at Ecotech. The classes were so applicable, and contained so much valuable information -- something I couldn't really appreciate until working here!

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Energy Efficiency: When Less (Energy) Equals More (Jobs)

We’re all familiar with having to do more with less in these troubled economic times. But less can equal more – especially when “less” means wasting less energy and “more” means new jobs here in America. And just when you thought bipartisanship was dead, there is a new bipartisan bill in Congress that promises to do more with less.

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Brandon Barnes - Wind Tech 2, NextEra Energy Resources

Ecotech Alumnus Brandon Barnes

I remember how much I wanted all of this when in class and feel that others should know how great things can be if you continue to believe in yourself and don't give up. Life has been quite interesting and adventurous since Ecotech. I have travelled a lot for training and have been already promoted from a wind tech 3 to 2 in my first six months. I work in Limon, Colorado, and my job is to troubleshoot turbines and repair them when they are not running. I am just now reaching my first full year at NextEra energy, and I'm doing well for myself and family. I am now investing and just came home from a two week vacation in Sedona Arizona. My plan for the future is to become a tech 1. Once you become tech 1, you can choose any job in the company and do it, like manager or high voltage tech. I really do love my work and get better at it every day!

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Michael Armin - Residential PV Installer, SolarCity

I moved out to Phoenix, Arizona last September after I graduated. I love it out here. I had a job lined up right when I got out to Arizona at SolarCity as a residential PV Installer in the Deer Valley office. I love what I do, even if it's 120° out here right now. Just recently the install crew I'm on installed two solar systems in one day, one on comp shingle roof and the other on tile, a total of 52 panels, in 105°+ heat. It's the first time a project of this magnitude has been done at SolarCity. We're on the SolarCity Facebook page also.

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Shawn Sanders - Account Executive, Wind Energy Business at Dingo

Ecotech Alumnus Shawn Sanders

After graduating from Ecotech I definitely wanted to work in the wind industry however, I didn't see myself working as a technician. I wanted to work on the business side of the industry. I wanted to use my mind rather than my back to make a living, that's why I chose my current career path.

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Happy Earth Overshoot Day

“August 20 is Earth Overshoot Day 2013, marking the date when humanity exhausted nature’s budget for the year. We are now operating in overdraft.” ~Global Footprint Network

Today is a holiday that brings no call for celebration. Today is the day we receive notice from the Bank of Earth that we have overdrawn our account. The really bad news is that we have no savings account or other overdraft protection because, of course, there is only one Earth. The even worse news is that we have been overdrawing our Earth account every year since the mid 1970s—and our spending habits are getting worse, not better. If we keep doing this, one day the bank will have no choice but to close our account—permanently.

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Walking the Talk – Putting the Ecotech Lifestyle in Practice

“We don’t go running away from our values.  We go drifting away, and one day wake up in a place we never meant to be, drifting in a direction we would have never chosen.” ~John G. Blumberg, Good to the Core

When I was hired as Education Corporation of America (ECA)’s first Manager—Environmental Operations, I was told the story of how my position came to be. The man who hired me, Ron Maillette, was at that time ECA’s Chief Information Officer. Ron described to me how, as ECA’s first Ecotech plans were already well underway, he had an “epiphany moment” when he realized how important it would be for ECA to “walk the Ecotech talk”—not just at Ecotech, but at our corporate headquarters and at our other campus brands nationwide. Ron went to his boss, our Chief Executive Officer, and shared his epiphany. Our CEO agreed, and the rest, as they say, is history.

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Think.Eat.Save—World Environment Day

Today (June 5) is World Environment Day.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), “The theme for this year’s World Environment Day celebrations is Think.Eat.Save. Think.Eat.Save is an anti-food waste and food loss campaign that encourages you to reduce your foodprint. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger.”

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What does a Wind Energy Technician do?

In this age of rapid energy use and decreasing natural resources, renewable energy is becoming increasingly important. Wind is a clean, renewable source of energy that is joining the ranks of important energy sources. In fact, wind power is one of the fastest-growing sources of electrical power in the world according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic. Not only is wind a phenomenal way to power our country, it is also a clean, renewable energy source important in today's world.

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What Components Are In A Solar Energy System?

What Components Are In A Solar Energy System?

Changing sunlight into electricity, along with storing it and controlling it, fall to the main components of the PV system. The two primary types of systems in use today are stand-alone and grid-tied. Understanding their main components, how they work and how they work together makes it easy to understand why the grid-tie approach is by far the most common system in use today.

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World Water Day Fun at Ecotech

World Water Day is stacking up to be quite a celebration at Ecotech this year, including conservation demonstrations by Sonne Shields, first female winner of HGTV’s “All-American Handyman,” a children’s art contest, and much more.

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Cleantech Jobs, Ecotech Alumni

“If you would have told me just two years ago that I’d be living in Hawaii and working for a solar company, I would have thought you were crazy. However, that’s what I’m doing today and I couldn’t be happier.” ~Myers Nguyen, Ecotech Institute Alumnus

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Clean Jobs Index: Wind Energy Technician

This is the first in a planned series of blog entries describing the occupational outlook of specific jobs for which we provide training at America’s first Ecotech Institute. Graduates of our Wind Energy Technology program are eligible for a variety of jobs, including Energy Auditors, Engineering Technicians, and Sustainability Specialists. However, the most obvious role for our graduates is that of Wind Turbine Service Technician.

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The Clean Jobs Index (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Cleantech)

“Fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face.” ~General Jack D. Ripper, in Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

I wonder if any of the same folks who laugh at Gen. Ripper’s ridiculous remarks in Dr. Strangelove subscribe to any of the ridiculous Agenda 21 conspiracy theories? There are those who are trying to demonize cleantech jobs and the whole sustainability movement as some sort of socialist plot. Rather than laugh at them, I’m hoping we can help them to stop worrying and love cleantech.

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What Makes a Job “Green?”

Solar panels don’t install themselves. Wind turbines don’t manufacture themselves. Homes and buildings don’t retrofit or weatherize themselves. In our industrial society, trees don’t even PLANT themselves, anymore. Real people must do all of that work.

To be successful, American workers need some new tools, some new training and access to some new technology. They also need a policy environment that supports employers who are trying to bring low-carbon prosperity to our country. With those things in place, we can begin to put some green rungs on America’s ladder of opportunity.

If we are smart, we will make the invention, manufacturing and deploying of clean energy technology a cornerstone of the next American economy – and create green pathways out of poverty, while we do it.   ~Van Jones (2009)

 

 

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Can We “Re-Wire” Humans to Survive?

We like to think that we control our own minds. However, an increasing volume of research indicates the great extent the collective weight of evolution—embodied in a few pounds of gray matter—drives human behavior much like the proverbial tail wags the dog.

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Earth as Dune: Water, Energy—and Politics

This is our entry for Masdar’s Engage: The Water-Energy Nexus blogging contest. Please vote for this entry here!

“A man’s flesh is his own; the water belongs to the tribe.” ~Frank Herbert, Dune

One year ago, there were record floods on the Mississippi River. This year, barge traffic is grinding to a halt as record drought slows the once-mighty river’s flow to a mere trickle of its former self. As I write this, we have just experienced our 333rd consecutive month of global temperatures higher than the 20th-century average. Welcome to global warming and its chaotic twin, global “weirding,” where there is only too much or too little—never just enough.

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A Cleantech Visit from St. Nicholas


A Cleantech Visit from St. Nicholas

’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through Congressional Halls,
Not a Representative was stirring (it being Recess, and all).
The bills were hung by the podiums with care,
In hopes that sufficient votes soon would be there.

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Getting Down to Green Business

Ah, targeted advertising: It seems I can’t visit an environmental web site without receiving an ad for a “green” MBA degree program. But all these ads make me want to ask: Just who are all these green MBAs going to manage? In other words, who’s actually going to be doing all this important green work?

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Ecotech Institute Shares Top Five Cleantech Considerations For Election Time

Regardless of Party Affiliation, Elections Affect the Future of Cleantech  

 
Denver, Colorado – November 1, 2012 – Ecotech Institute, the first and only college focused entirely on preparing America’s workforce for careers in renewable energy and sustainability, has put together five things to consider this political season. 
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What’s the Economy For?

Perhaps we should start an “Ecotext Book Club” to share and discuss books relating to the business Triple Bottom Line of people, planet, and profits. Recently I finished the marvelous 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years. Now I am reading What's the Economy For, Anyway?: Why It's Time to Stop Chasing Growth and Start Pursuing Happiness by David K. Batker and John de Graaf.

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The Winds of Change

Our economy runs on energy. However, the price that’s now needed to develop new oil sources—approximately $100 per barrel—is the same price that brings on economic recession. There is no statistical correlation between how much oil is pumped out of the ground and how much is paid at the gasoline pump.

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What is Crucial?

Every few months a small group of us former pupils drag our old mentor out of retirement for a “Sustainable Futures” reunion seminar. Two weeks ago, while our beloved Dr. Edward “Ed” Passerini was in town, he also graciously agreed to speak to my graduate class on Information Management. Wow. I don’t know about the rest of the class, but I was blown away.

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Tax “Bads,” Not “Goods!”

Sometimes I wonder if anyone running our country paid any attention in Econ 101. If you tax something, people tend to buy or use less of it, if they can. So why do we tax jobs (income)? Even if most of us can’t do without them, it would seem that taxing them less might encourage us to make more of them.

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Broader Education, Not Wider Roads

Last week, thanks to the folks at The Institute of Sustainability (TIOS) and The Green Register, I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Ed McMahon speak. No, I wasn’t with a psychic channeling Johnny Carson’s former sidekick; I was with sustainability and environmental policy expert Edward T. McMahon, co-founder of Scenic America and current Senior Resident Fellow with the Urban Land Institute.

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Turbine Technicians (not Cowboys)

If you’ve seen The Weather Channel’s Turbine Cowboys you may have a somewhat exaggerated view of the life of a typical wind turbine technician. Call it a “Reality TV” effect, akin to the “CSI Effect.” It’s not that wind energy technology work is not exciting—we happen to train wind energy technicians, and we have a 20-foot climbing tower built right into our school. But we train our technicians, both male and female, how to be safe—not how to be cowboys.

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Talk Like a (Great) Pirate Day

Here at our corporate headquarters, we are celebrating Talk Like a Pirate Day. Unlike our original pirate namesakes, the booty we collect will all be going for a good cause—the United Way. But those who first acquired the necessary broad and cross-disciplinary knowledge to successfully traverse the seas, where they were subject to no laws of the land, saw a profit-making opportunity as near-limitless as the sea horizons.

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America: We’re (Tied For) Number Two…

Want to hear something amazing? China has more honor students than the U.S. has total students. Let that sink in a moment…

China just passed us in clean & renewable wind energy capacity, and they are on track to double that capacity by 2015. It’s much the same story with China and solar power. China is putting all those honor students—backed by heavy government subsidies—to good use.

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We're now accepting applications for the POWER UTILITY TECHNICIAN Program!

We're now taking applications for our new two-year Power Utility Technician degree program! This program, which will launch in October, will help fill a need in the power utility sector as a growing number of power utility technicians are retiring from the field and highly trained employees are in demand. Ecotech has responded to this need by creating a practical program focused on the ever-changing power utility industry.

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Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Actually, if coal were the subject of AC/DC’s song, it could be titled “Dirty Deeds Done Cheaper Than Dirt” because, thanks to American taxpayers’ subsidizing of coal, the U.S. government recently sold 721 million tons of coal for literally cheaper than dirt.

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Solar Business Issues: Solar Power Jobs and the future

Ecotech Institute grads start cool green careers

I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking about the future lately. I’m in good company; our inaugural class of Ecotech Institute students just graduated with associate degrees in programs such as Solar Energy Technology and Wind Energy Technology. These visionaries are not only full of hopes and dreams about the future, they are getting actual job offers from cool places to work like Hawaii, Colorado and Texas.

Continue reading at Solar Power World!

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Climate Change and Extreme Weather

As tropical storm Isaac threatens both the Gulf Coast and the Republican National Convention, the oft-asked question is again on the wind: Is climate change to blame for Isaac—or any particular extreme weather event?

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Blowin’ in the Wind: Why Alabamians Should Care About Wind Subsidies

China is on track to have twice as much of it as we do now by 2015.  Politicians, who seem to generate a great deal of it themselves, are arguing over whether it should stay or go here in the U.S.  I’m talking about wind power capacity—and the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) that makes it possible.

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The True Cost of Oil

“Crude oil output reaches an undulating plateau of around 68-69 mb/d*, by 2020, but never regains its all-time peak of 70mb/d reached in 2006.” ~International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2010, November 2010

In case you missed it, the quote above was the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s admission that the world probably hit “peak oil” in 2006. It is helpful to remember that the IEA is not known as an alarmist or progressive-green agency; quite the opposite, in fact. So when the IEA admitted not only that we have hit peak oil, but also that our present use of fossil fuels has us on-track for catastrophic 11°F global warming, many of us were taken aback.

*Million barrels per day

 

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What Does a “Manager – Environmental Operations” Do, Anyway?

It occurs to me that I haven’t introduced myself properly. I am Education Corporation of America’s (ECA) Manager – Environmental Operations, based at our corporate office in Birmingham, Alabama. But what does that job title mean? What are environmental operations, and just how does one go about managing them? I believe the tale of how my position was created will help answer all of these questions.

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A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years?

Begin with the end in mind, advised leadership guru Stephen Covey. So I am opening this article with the closing words of the book I am reading, 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years by Jorgen Randers. Who could disagree with this end? “Together we could create a much better world.”

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Information Management for the Planet

Every second at the Large Hadron Collider, enough data is generated to fill more than 1,000 one-terabyte hard drives. At that rate it would take only 2.5 seconds to fill our brain’s total estimated memory storage capacity. Clearly, we are generating information much more rapidly than our brains have a chance of processing.

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Cool the Engines

Although the classic rock band Boston is always “cool,” its home city has been anything but cool lately. In April, inexperienced Boston Marathon runners were asked to sit out the event due to dangerous record high temperatures. The first full day of summer set another Boston high-temperature record.

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Quotes on Critical Thinking

In the Higher Education sphere, one of our main goals is to impart critical thinking skills to students. We try to teach that asking, “How do you know what you think you know?” is much more important than memorizing any particular collection of so-called facts. Questioning our individual versions of reality has never been more important, as there has never been more at stake. So to get those rusty mental gears spinning, here is some well-oiled advice from critical thinkers past and present:

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A Declaration of Interdependence

Perhaps, amidst all the fireworks and flag-waving of July 4, we actually gave some thought as to what it means to be independent. But, successful revolutions aside, I’d like to ask: Are we truly independent? In 1835, shortly after the newly United States of America won its hard-fought independence from Britain, a visitor from France toured the fledgling country and wrote down his observations. In this famous treatise, Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville, under the heading “Tyranny of the Majority,” wrote, “I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.” American founding father John Adams himself once said, “The Declaration of Independence I always considered as a theatrical show. Jefferson ran away with all the stage effect of that... and all the glory of it.”

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Rio+20: The (Higher Education) Future We Want

The latest United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil, dubbed “Rio+20,” has been met with mixed reviews, at best. The conference’s outcome document is named The Future We Want, but detractors such as the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) have renamed it “a future we can't live with.”

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Ecotech: It Means Jobs

Last week I had the honor and pleasure of attending the first graduation at our Ecotech Institute in Aurora (Denver), Colorado. Two years ago, 41 visionaries believed us when we told them the future was green with jobs in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors. Our future LEED Gold campus with its solar trees, wind turbines, and electric vehicle charger was still a year away when these students signed on. Last week, each graduate received a visionary award in addition to his or her diploma. This was our way of saying, “Thank you for trusting us in this shared vision.”

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Reinventing Fire

How about some environmental good news, for a change? I’ve been reading Reinventing Fire by Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute, and I’m so stoked that I have to share!

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Good Jobs, Bad Government

Recently Alabama passed a law banning sustainable development. Meanwhile, Virginia lawmakers are ordering politically-offensive words like “sea level rise” and “climate change” expunged from a $50,000 study to determine the impacts of climate change on the state’s shores. (I can see the title of the report now: “The Report on That Which Must Not Be Named.”) North Carolina appears poised, as comedian Stephen Colbert derisively put it, to pass legislation that makes sea-level rise illegal. But first there was Tennessee, which earlier this year passed a law prohibiting teachers from being punished for discussing the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of global warming and evolution—in other words, question established science, not current authority.

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Happy World Conspiracy Day

Who doesn’t love a good mystery-thriller, especially one rife with intrigue and subterfuge? The more twists, the better. But a full explanation at the end? Huge let-down. That is why I was always disappointed when Scooby Doo and his gang of “meddling kids” unveiled the human face under the scary mask at the end of every original episode. I wanted there to really be a monster, ghost, or alien. The other-worldly mystery was far more fun than a mundane explanation.

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New Perspectives: Green Roofs and Climate Change

Last Friday, I saw life from a couple of new perspectives. One of them was from the roof of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)’s Hulsey Center. The other was from “The Big Switch,” a presentation by James Hrynyshyn, science blogger of “Class: M” blog fame.

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Do You Want to Change the World?

Ah, spring. The time of graduations, commencement ceremonies, and speeches about changing the world. Along with the latest viral videos of commencement speeches by celebrities, we have a tremendous amount of advice about changing the world, amassed from the collective stores of the world’s religious figures, philosophers, and authors.

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From Star Trek to Prehistory: UAB Guest Speaker Ponders “The Big Switch”

If you are a Star Trek fan, you probably know what “Class: M” means. If you follow the popular science blogs at ScienceBlogs.com, you also may know that this is the title of communications consultant and freelance science journalist James Hrynyshyn’s regular blog. For the rest of you, James explains: “’Class M’ is a Star Trek reference, specifically to planets like Earth that tend to support abundant life and civilization. There are plenty of other letters in each direction in the alphabet, the implication being that the current condition of our climate is but one of many possibilities.”

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Getting Cleantech Done

We hear a lot about the cleantech (renewable, sustainable, green) economy these days. There is a daily barrage of articles talking about jobs and cleantech from both ends of the political spectrum. But regardless of your feelings about Solyndra and the future of solar panels, or whether or not you’re following the battle of Donald Trump’s planned luxury golf resort in Scotland vs. the proposed nearby offshore wind farm, there is an aspect of the green economy that almost no one is talking about. That is, who is actually going to do the work?

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It Must Be True. I Read It on the Internet!

Some folks ought to know better. “WARNING: This newsletter contains GRAPHIC images” declares the lead story of the Salisbury, MD Fire Department’s April 2012 Training Newsletter. (The actual story title is “Energy-saving Bulb Dangers,” but this humble warning pales in comparison.) Over the course of the next two pages, we are treated to pictures of a horribly-disfigured human foot belonging to one “Mr. Smith” who allegedly dropped a compact fluorescent (CFL) bulb and then stepped “barefooted, into the broken glass and exposed mercury.”

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Play a Game… Save the Planet

Who says saving the planet can’t be a matter of fun & games? Certainly not “eco-entrepreneur” and sustainability professor Scott Cooney. But then again, Cooney lives and teaches in Hawaii, so perhaps that state’s laid-back lifestyle has influenced his philosophy as well as his game—GBO Hawaii.

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In Praise of Trees

As I write this, America is celebrating Arbor Day. Unlike Labor Day, Arbor Day is an unofficial or “working” holiday, so for most of us the day is upon or past us before we even realize it. So let’s take a mental walk in the woods with the following facts and quotes:

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Our Urban Planet

Sometime in 2008 our planet passed a major milestone. At that time, for the first time in our history, there were more people living in cities than in non-urbanized areas. Sometime around Halloween of last year, our planet passed another milestone—adding its seven billionth person. This means that more than 3.5 billion humans are now crowded into the world’s urban areas.

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Sustainability: Not Living Beyond One’s Means

Did you celebrate Tax Freedom Day on April 12? In case you didn’t know, according to the Tax Foundation, that’s the day Americans collectively earned enough money to pay all our tax obligations for this year. Less-known than Tax Freedom Day, and certainly not a reason to celebrate, isEarth Overshoot Day, which last arrived on September 27, 2011. Figuratively-speaking, that was the day we began living beyond nature’s means to supply us.

 

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LEEDing The Way

Today’s most influential back-to-nature movement isn’t being led by hippies or tree-huggers. It’s being led by architects, construction workers, and the everyday folks who are buying and living in modern “green” buildings.

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Getting Green Done: Wind Energy Technology

Ecotech’s Wind Energy Technology 2-year degree program is designed to prepare students for careers in renewable energy, including wind energy technicians. Learn more. Ecotech’s Wind Energy Technology 2-year degree program is designed to prepare students for careers in renewable energy, including wind energy technicians. Learn more.

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Oikos or It’s All Good Housekeeping

What do the words economics, ecology, and ecumenical have in common? They are all derived from the Greek work for household, house, or family: oikos.[i] In other words, they’re all about good housekeeping, whether the house in question is a single family home or the planet that is home to us all.

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Do You Think That Food Grows On Trees?

The answer to the somewhat tongue-in-cheek question posed by this blog’s title should be yes… food does indeed grow on trees. It also grows on other perennial plants[i]—and we should be growing more of these kinds of food plants, for our health and for the future of our planet.

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The Wearing of the Green

Regardless of how the term “green” strikes you in these days when both green washing and green bashing are popular, it seems both pro- and con- green folk set aside their differences and embrace the color around March 17.

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Water, Water Nowhere

When I give environmental talks to elementary school children (or politicians), I use an analogy that compares the waters of the Earth with a glass of water. If you ask what portion of the water in the glass is readily available for humans to drink, many children assume that you have to immediately pour out approximately two-thirds, which represents the salt water in the oceans.

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I Pledge Allegiance to the Planet

I consider myself a patriotic guy. But as a student of history and ecology, I believe that excessive tribalism, from political parties to nations, is causing or worsening many of our world’s problems.

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I Heart the Planet

It’s time to delve into the origins of another popular holiday: Valentine’s Day. Despite claims that this holiday was invented just a few decades ago by the Greeting Card Association, its origins go much further back, to ancient Christian and Roman traditions. According towww.History.com, “Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages” and written greetings began appearing after 1400. The first commercial Valentine’s Day cards appeared in the U.S. in the 1840s. 

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Getting Green Done: Renewable Energy Technology

How would you like to choose your own specialization in the dynamic career field of renewable energy? This flexible, two-year program gives you a solid foundation in the fundamentals of renewable energy with a focus on engineering technology. With this foundation, you will choose from a wide variety of electives to study your preferred area of specialization.

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Whither the Weather?

I am writing this on the morning after a possible tornado swept through Jefferson County, Alabama. Two persons are confirmed dead, and rescue workers are conducting house-by-house searches. Ironically, the severe weather has delayed the release of a report on how the state can better prepare for such disasters. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley appointed the group last August to study the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak, which caused almost 2,000 injuries and 139 deaths just in Alabama.

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Peak Oil: Nightfall, or Daybreak?

In November 2009, a National Geographic Daily News headline read, “Has the World Already Passed ‘Peak Oil’?” The article quoted the International Energy Agency(IEA)’s World Energy Outlook 2010, which suggested that the world’s conventional oil production likely peaked three years previous—in 2006.

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The Dream of Environmental Justice

My first job, fresh out of college, was working with a nonprofit environmental organization based in Alabama. At that time, in the mid-1980s, Alabama hosted the largest hazardous waste landfill in the U.S. (and possibly the world). Chemical Waste Management, Inc. located their “Cadillac of Landfills” near Emelle, Alabama—a Sumter County town with an area of 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) and only a few dozen residents. It also turns out that Sumter County is one of Alabama’s most impoverished counties, and that more than 90 percent of those living near the landfill are Black.

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Getting Green Done: Environmental Technology

Safeguarding the environment is important, and those who work in environmental engineering technology develop solutions to critical issues such as water contamination, air pollution, and waste disposal.

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New Beginnings

This blog entry started out about how making small, mid-course corrections can lead us to our desired destination, despite the fact that we actually may be off-course much of the time. Perhaps you’ve heard an inspirational story that goes something like this: The original Apollo moon landing mission was off course 80 percent of the time, yet small mid-course corrections allowed the astronauts to land within 15 feet of the preferred location.

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It’s Broken. I Want Another One!

Some years ago, when my niece was very young, we were opening our presents on Christmas Day while she played with one of her newly-opened toys. The toy suddenly stopped working, and a quick investigation revealed that she had accidentally severed the power cord while playing with it. My niece did not find this fact nearly as dismaying as her mother, for she simply responded: “Well, just go buy another one!”

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The Holly and the Ivy

Have you ever puzzled over the lyrics to that old Christmas carol, “The Holly and the Ivy?” I’m fascinated by the origins of our holidays and traditions, and the Yule-Christmas season certainly provides fertile ground for a little digging!

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Spaceship: Earth

The early years of our first tenuous reaching into outer space brought with them many culture shocks—not the least of which was the fact that we are already travelers on a spaceship called Earth.

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Getting Green Done: Energy Efficiency

"What cannot be measured cannot be managed."

That old saying is especially true in sustainable energy systems. Measuring, testing, and analyzing the effectiveness and efficiency of those systems are critical functions that energy efficiency professionals perform.

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Only X More Shopping Days…

The countdown to purchase is on. Only X more shopping days… Buy Now! Pay Later! Don’t be caught dead with yesterday’s fashion or gadget. The one who dies with the most toys wins! Sound familiar?

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Giving Thanks for Nature’s Bounty

Like Halloween, the roots of our modern Thanksgiving holiday go much further back than perhaps most of us realize. According to The History Channel, “Native Americans had a rich tradition of commemorating the fall harvest with feasting and merrymaking long before Europeans set foot on their shores.” Further back, the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans feasted and paid tribute to their gods after the fall harvest.

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The Not-So-New 3 Rs

Although the 3 Rs of education—Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic—may have been coined all the way back in 1825, the 3 Rs of the environment—Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle—are showing their age, too. While the origins of these “green” 3 Rs are directly traceable to the aftermath of World War II, the related concepts of frugality, thrift, and economy go back much further. Indeed, for most of human history very few of us could afford to waste anything.

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The Politics of the Environment

In honor of Election Day, even though this is not a Federal election year, I’d like to talk about the politics of the environment. I’m not talking Red, Blue, or Magenta; I’m talking good old-fashioned Green. (And I don’t mean the Green Party.) I’ve said before in this blog series that “Green isn’t a job; it’s a state of mind,” and a similar thing may be said for politics: “Green isn’t a party; it’s a state of mind.”

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Nature’s Big Recycling Drive

Do you know why leaves change colors and fall in autumn? The science of temperate forests and deciduous trees is fascinating, but there is a sustainability lesson here, as well.

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Higher Education, Games, and the Planet

This is a big week for environmental education. Both AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) and NAAEE (North American Association for Environmental Education) are holding their annual conferences.

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Humans and Other Animals

October 4 is World Animal Day (and World Farm Animal Day).  According to the official web site, “World Animal Day was started in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species. Since then it has grown to encompass all kinds of animal life and is widely celebrated in countries throughout the world. October 4 was chosen as World Animal Day as it is the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.”

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Of Green Buildings and Eco Expositions

How big is the green building business? The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program recently certified its 10,000th commercial building, and LEED-certified floor area is approaching 2 billion square feet. The newly-renovated Empire State Building has achieved LEED Gold certification. Green building is even bigger in Europe, where over 200,000 buildings have Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) certified ratings.

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Clean Tech, Ecotech and the Green Jobs Movement

What do you do when your country is in peril of defaulting on debt payments? If you’re Greece, you invest in clean tech. Greece has announced that it will invest approximately $28 billion toward 10 gigawatts of solar power generation, with plans to eventually become a net exporter of solar energy.

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