Ecotech Institute 2012 Clipbook

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An all-in-one document showcasing the top media placements and PR efforts for the year.

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Ecotech Institute 2012 Clipbook

  1. 1. Ecotech Institute Media Presence 2012
  2. 2. Table of Contents January................................................................................................ February............................................................................................... March................................................................................................... April...................................................................................................... May....................................................................................................... June...................................................................................................... July........................................................................................................ August.................................................................................................. September............................................................................................ October................................................................................................. November............................................................................................. December............................................................................................. page 4 to 8 page 10 to 13 page 15 to 20 page 22 to 32 page 34 to 39 page 41 to 46 page 48 to 56 page 58 to 63 page 65 to 68 page 70 to 73 page 75 to 85 page 87 to 89
  3. 3. January 2012
  4. 4. page 4 January 3, 2012 People on the move The City of Denver named Judy Steele deputy director of the Department of Excise and Licenses and appointed Scott Martinez as deputy city attorney. Colorado Public Radio appointed Christie Cadwell, Carolyn Daniels and Bryant Reber to the board of directors. Andrew C. Elliott and Ashley Krause have been elected shareholders in the Denver office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. Rothgerber Johnson & Lyons announced that Chad S. Caby has been named partner in the Denver office. Gary M. Jackson will be honored with the Colorado Bar Association’s highest honor, the Award of Merit, on Friday. Jackson is a founding member and former president of the Sam Cary Bar Association, an African- American legal association, as well as the Sam Cary Scholarship Endowment Fund, which provides scholarships to law students at the University of Colorado and the University of Denver. The American Red Cross Mile High Chapter announced the addition of Libia Prada and Oliver Cunningham as bilingual volunteer instructors. Ecotech Institute has appointed a local board of advisers including: Jennifer Beach, Starfire Energy LLC; Tim Cahalin, Energy Central; Scott Charter, GGP Energy; Paul Czarnecki, Colorado Association of Manufacturing and Technology; Maury Dobbie, Colorado State University Center for the New Energy Economy; Greg Foster, Williams Production RMT; Jeff Hanko, Metal Finishing Systems and Advanced Industrial Technology; Roark Lanning, RES Americas; Vance Nixon, Clipper Windpower LLC; Justin Pentelute, Syndicated Solar Inc.; Matt Pevarnik, Alstom Power; and Marietta Silva, Veterans Green Jobs. Vista Gold Corp. named Frederick H. Earnest, president and chief operating officer as chief executive officer following the retirement of Michael B. Richings. Humane Society of Boulder Valley hired Allison Hartlage as a training and behavior coordinator. University of Colorado Boulder named Robert Boswell as vice chancellor for diversity, equity and community engagement.
  5. 5. page 5 January 21, 2012 A Look at Green Technology Predictions for 2012 Where will green technology take us in 2012? Ecotech Institute is keeping a close eye on that very big question. We are constantly monitoring cleantech industry growth and innovation, and looking for ways to align our environmental sustainability curriculum with employer and marketplace demands. Every day we read up on the latest research regarding solar power, wind energy, smart grid and other relevant industries. We want to make sure our students are up to speed when they graduate so their employers truly get the best, most knowledgeable employees. In 2011, cleantech venture investment had an incredible year. As a result of financial backing, we saw an infusion of green start-up companies, new jobs and a growing belief in the future of cleantech industries. However, the challenges of this relatively new space also came to light as some companies met very public criticism. As the president of Ecotech Institute, it’s my job to take a hard look at opportunities in cleantech now and into the future. Our career services team needs to accurately predict where Ecotech graduates will be able to make a living and make a difference in the world. Frankly, there is a lot of enthusiasm as we enter 2012 with a promising outlook about environmental sustainability’s growing role in the world. This is a very exciting year for Ecotech because we will graduate our first group of students in June. As we continue to prepare them for the workforce this year, we are collectively interested in what industry leaders are predicting. Here are some predictions of note: 1. According to a December 28, 2011 article by Michael Kanellos on www.greenbiz.com, “Renewables will start to win over the jobs argument.” He states, “The 2012 Presidential election will be only about one thing: jobs. In the energy and sustainability context, the debate boils down to whether you think more jobs can be created through pipelines and offshore drilling or through erecting solar farms and retrofitting buildings.” “But here is where renewables win: they don’t take years….Many fossil projects, meanwhile, are bogged down in land use hearings….If renewables get results quicker, they become the better solution.” My takeaway: Green jobs will continue to grow and companies need educated people to fill them. 2. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) says this year is going to be a big year for wind power, both in the field and in policy. The association notes that unlike the volatile prices of fossil fuels, wind power has a fixed fuel cost of zero, making it a very appealing form of energy. However, Congress needs to act quickly to protect the future of wind energy in the U.S. If lawmakers do not extend the Production Tax Credit that is due to expire at the end of this year, taxes on wind will go up and jobs could go overseas.
  6. 6. page 6 My takeaway: Wind energy will continue to grow this year, however Congress needs to take action to make sure that growth continues in 2013 and beyond. Please contact your lawmakers to let them know the importance of extending the Production Tax Credit. 3. According to predictions from www.EnvironmentalLeader.com, solar innovation will serve as a perennial driver. “Investment into good old solar innovation and projects is still strong, and has remained so for years, while other clean technologies have risen and fallen in and out of investment fashion.” My takeaway: As money continues to be filtered into solar power innovation, we must keep a close eye on how these technologies will be built and maintained. 4. Jesse Berst with gigaom.com listed top predictions based on his takeaways from a webinar offered by renowned research firm IDC. He stated the following, “Smart buildings will become important to utilities. 25 states have energy efficiency standards or targets. Smart buildings can help meet such goals. The building energy analytics market will double between 2012 and 2015, jumping from $193 billion to $402 billion.” My takeaway: The growth of smart buildings requires savvy energy efficiency experts. 5. In “10 solar trends to watch for in 2012,” Ucilia Wang, another contributor to gigaom.com, discusses solar energy’s impact on the grid. The article states that, “The increase in solar energy generation has nudged utilities and electric grid regulators to give more thought and investment to the impact of solar in their mission to deliver electricity reliably.” “Since solar production can ebb and surge depending on the time of the day and the weather, new technologies and policies are cropping up to monitor solar energy production and minimize interruptions of power delivery.” My takeaway: The marketplace needs educated professionals who understand the interplay between solar technology and the current energy grid system. The green landscape will continue to shift and it is important to watch, learn and prepare future leaders. The excitement of clean technology innovation in 2012 and beyond ought to be celebrated by everyone who has a stake in making our world a better place to work, play and live.
  7. 7. page 7 January 27, 2012 Ecotech looks toward first class of green industry grads | Adam Goldstein
  8. 8. page 8 January 31, 2012 Aurora Daily Click A story about Ecotech’s growth in the number of students was featured on the local Aurora TV station. Full video not available. January 29, 2012 Ecotech Institute grows exponentially Ecotech Institute, where the focus is preparing students for careers in renewable energy and sustainability with hands on training, is celebrating a nearly 400 percent increase in student population over the last year. It kicked off the January quarter with 100 new students, bringing total enrollment to 473 students. This is quite an increase for a facility that took up temporary residence in an existing vacant building in June of 2010. In January 2011, Ecotech’s 119 students began attending school in its LEED gold-certified campus in Aurora, Colorado. Since then, the facility’s growth of offerings, faculty and student enrollment have continued exponentially. This June, the Institute will see its first graduating class of 39 students with 50 graduating students to follow in December. The most popular degrees are in Wind Energy Technology, Renewable Energy Technology and Electrical Engineering Technology. For more: see this article.
  9. 9. February 2012
  10. 10. page 10 February 1, 2012 Ecotech Institute to Sponsor Green Jobs Showcase Ecotech Institute, the first and only college entirely focused on preparing America’s workforce for careers in renewable energy and sustainability, today announced that it will be sponsoring the Green Jobs Showcase at the upcoming Green Schools National Conference. The second annual conference, to be held February 27-29 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, will bring together K-12 leaders and educators from around the country. Attendees will learn new ways to make schools and districts green and healthy centers of academic excellence. The conference is positioned as the centerpiece of a national movement sending a strong, clear message that green is the future of our schools. The conference features a landmark appearance by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on February 28 where he will discuss the newly established U. S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools Program. The conference will be the most comprehensive resource for schools hoping to become a Green Ribbon School in 2012. The Green Jobs Showcase is an opportunity for 20-30 companies to illustrate their green practices, describe current and future careers, and explain why sustainability-focused education is important to industry. “Students learning in an environmentally focused culture will inevitably want to choose career paths that allow them to continue their commitment to helping the planet,” says Jim McGrath, director of the Green Schools National Network, conference sponsor. “This showcase will allow conferees to get a glimpse of the green jobs of the future, sought-after careers that will be critically important to our health and the health of the planet in the decades to come.” Green Jobs Showcase Date/Time: February 28, 2012 – 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm February 29, 2012 – 9:00 am – 1:00 pm Where: Colorado Convention Center Rooms 201-203-205-207 Cost: Green Jobs Showcase Only – No Charge
  11. 11. page 11 “Ecotech is passionate about supporting the education industry’s movement to embrace sustainability in its facilities, curriculum and shaping students’ view of the world,” adds Mike Seifert, president of Ecotech Institute. “We are pleased to play a role in building a bridge between schools and the marketplace.” Companies interested in participating in the Green Jobs Showcase can contact Kim Stromire at Kimberly. stromire@ecotechinstitute.com or 303-586-5290 Ext. 4647. Entries will be accepted until next week. To register as an attendee, please visit http://www.greenschoolsnationalconference.org/register_now.php. For general conference or registration questions, please e-mail greeninfo@nationalgreenschools.org or call 1- 800-280-6218 between 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Pacific Coast Time. Ecotech Institute, which is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, offers seven highly practical degree programs and one certificate program that provide graduates with skills valued by today’s alternative renewable energy employers. February 14, 2012 New EV iPhone App, LEDs, Airline Controversy News, & More (Clean Links) | Zachary Shahan Some more top cleantech news of the past couple weeks, to go along with the 60+ articles we’ve published. 1. Despite recent/upcoming solar feed-in tariff cuts, UK energy minister Greg Barker announced a ramp-up of the UK’s solar power ambitions last Thursday. Barker thinks the UK will have 4 million solar-powered homes by 2020. 2. LED startup Soraa has just unstealthed and is looking to take over the LED 2.0 market. We’ll see. Coverage on cnet and Greentech Media for more. 3. Vestas’ chairman, deputy chief executive, deputy chairman, and chief financial officer (CFO) have announced they’re stepping down from their positions at Vestas, following a rough 2011. 4. China has now banned its airlines from participating in the EU’s emissions reduction scheme, continuing a long controversy over this issue (which we’ve written about many times)—it did so on the even of a big China-EU summit last week. Additionally, the U.S. Congress is moving a bill forward that expresses formal opposition to the EU requirement that non-EU airlines operating on the continent participate in the carbon emissions scheme.
  12. 12. page 12 5. SunRidge Farms, an organic and natural foods company, celebrated its 30th birthday recently by expanding its use of solar energy. (Full disclosure: I’m primarily including this in the roundup because I love some of their products.) 6. Burbank Water & Power (BWP) and AHBE Landscape Architects recently unveiled California’s 1st sustainable utility campus, the EcoCampus. “Never before have so many different sustainable landscape technologies been integrated into a single industrial campus,” Ron Davis, BWP’s general manager, notes. It really is completely full of progressive, environmentally friendly technologies—check out the link above for more. 7. Ecotech Institute, reportedly “the first and only college entirely focused on preparing America’s workforce for careers in renewable energy and sustainability,” has grown its student population to about 400 in its first year. Hopefully, it won’t take long for it to hit another 400. 8. GreenCharge, a new green iPhone app, offers a cool platform for viewing your driving patterns, checking out your charging costs, and seeing your environmental brownie points. The video above has more. 9. Scottish Enterprise has gotten a £50-boost to advance renewable energy in the UK. “The UK Government confirmed that the UK-wide consortium bid from Ocean Energy Innovation, Carbon Trust and the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec), has been selected to set up the £50 million Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult project, funded by the technology strategy board.” 10. easyJet, the largest airline in the UK, “will be the first airline to support the development and trial of the innovative new electric green taxiing system (EGTS),” the company noted last week. Approximately 4% of all the fuel easyJet uses is used when taxiing. It is partnering with Honeywell and Safran on this trial. 11. The small wind sector is also to get hit hard by UK feed-in tariff cuts, industry leaders recently announced. ”Household & business- scale wind turbines have been deployed in line with the Government’s predictions – if anything, deployment has not been as strong as we would have hoped because of the difficulty of securing planning permission for even small wind turbines,” RenewableUK’s Director of Policy, Dr Gordon Edge, said. ”The Government points to capital costs for some turbines coming down – but overall project costs have been rising across the technology sizes and manufacturers will face real dangers with the proposed cuts – we want to work with Government to ensure lower costs for consumers and protection for our UK-wide industry.”
  13. 13. page 13 12. Palo Alto, California looks like it’s going to have a feed-in tariff for solar in place soon. If Palo Alto’s City Council passes the feed-in-tariff pilot program, it will go into place on March 5, 2012. “It’s a pilot program for the City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) – the first year is capped at 4 megawatts and meant for medium-sized commercial rooftops with a minimum size of 50 kilowatts per installation,” Greentech Media reports. “The FIT is applicable to solar only, although other renewable energy sources could be considered later on. The city will pay $0.14 per kilowatt- hour for 20-year contracts.” 13. Solar Junction, which develops high-efficiency multi-junction cells for the concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) market and holds a world record in that arena, has secured $19.2 million more and a new partner for ramped up manufacturing of its solar cells, which have an efficiency of 43.5%. February 28, 2012 Ecotech provides hands-on wind training | Barbara Vergetis Lundin The Ecotech Institute is bolstering its wind energy training and safety labs with cutting-edge equipment that prepares students for careers in the wind industry. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wind is the fastest growing energy source in the world. The equipment will provide students with the necessary knowledge of safe, proper techniques when it comes to working with wind energy technology. The Ecotech Institute prepares America’s workforce for the renewable energy industry, in part by using the newest equipment for the most up-to-date training, as well as providing a realistic view of the functionality and programming of a large, commercial wind turbine. Ecotech takes a holistic approach to teaching, which includes hands-on labs, soft skills (communication, workplace etiquette), math and science basics, technology and more. In an effort to provide an array of real- life elements, the Wind Training Lab contains a generator trainer, fiber optic splicing kit, specialty tools, a Lab- Volt Wind Turbine Nacelle Trainer, Lab-Volt Wind Turbine Hub Trainer, several wind farm simulation software packages, a 25-foot climb and rescue tower, Miller Evolution Harnesses and Lanyards, Rescue Randy dummy, Miller Safe Escape Rescue Device, Lab-Volt cranes and a rigging trainer. Ecotech will also soon have a TorcUP torque and tensioning trainer. Featured in FierceEnergy newsletter; article originally from November 2011.
  14. 14. March 2012
  15. 15. page 15 March 1, 2012 Company Profile: Ecotech Institute | Russ Willcutt
  16. 16. page 16 March 6, 2012 Ecotech’s “Women in Renewable Energy” Club Mirrors Department of Labor Push to Get More Women Interested in Green Jobs Historically men have dominated green jobs, yet a new report is trying to shift the tides. The report recently released by the Department of Labor, “Why Green Is Your Color: A Woman’s Guide to a Sustainable Career,” highlights the fact that green jobs tend to be dominated by men, yet opportunities abound for women as well. It has been noticed as well by Ecotech Institute, the first and only college entirely focused on preparing America’s workforce for careers in renewable energy and sustainability. In fact, the school held its first “Women in Renewable Energy” (WIRE) meeting on February 16 to bring together women at the campus to share ideas, help each other with classwork and empower one another as they embark on a green career. Ecotech is seeing increasingly more women interested in the green revolution and it is a trend the Labor Department wants to see continue. The Labor Department states that according to The National Center for O*NET Development, several green occupations are “Bright Outlook” occupations, meaning they are expected to grow rapidly from 2008 – 2018, with a combined increase of 100,000 or more job openings. Some jobs designated as “Bright Outlook” are wind turbine service technicians, solar photovoltaic installers and recycling coordinators. The impetus for the report was in support of Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis’s vision of “Good Jobs for Everyone.” The downloadable green jobs guide is designed to help women learn about the opportunities available in the renewable energy space, which they may not have previously considered. According to the report synopsis, “The guide was created to help women at all stages of their careers — whether they are newly entering the workforce, transitioning to new careers, or returning to the workforce — identify and take advantage of opportunities in the clean energy economy.” “We are focused on making Ecotech a welcoming environment for women because we know they have a lot to offer in current and emerging green careers,” said Susan Pawlak, Ecotech’s Director of Career Services. “Our Women in Renewable Energy Club is just one way that Ecotech encourages women to make a mark in wind, solar, renewable energy and other industries alongside their male colleagues.” The club held elections on February 23 and the new leaders are tasked with growing the club’s membership and educating more women about careers in sustainability. Tiffany Burton, an Electrical Engineering Technology instructor, is the academic advisor; Suzanne Colton, Senior Recruiter for NextEra Energy Resources is the industry advisor; and Susan Pawlak, Ecotech’s Director of Career Services, is a general advisor. Ecotech’s curriculum is built to address both job-specific technical training and soft skills (e.g. communication, work ethic and teamwork), which employers demand, through comprehensive coursework and state-of-the- art labs. The Labor Department report parallels Ecotech’s vision for job training and is chock-full of applicable information that defines what a green career really is, explains why there is a growing need for trained professionals, and outlines what training is necessary.
  17. 17. page 17 With International Women’s Day (March 8th) fast approaching, it’s time to talk about women and the green energy labor market. A recent report released by the Department of Labor, entitled “Why Green Is Your Color: A Woman’s Guide to a Sustainable Career” highlights the fact that green jobs tend to be dominated by men. However, opportunities abound for women as well. Ecotech Institute, a pioneer college dedicated to renewable energy and sustainability, recently held a Women in Renewable Energy meeting on February 16 to bring together women at the campus to “share ideas, help each other with classwork and empower one another as they embark on a green career.” The institution says that an increasing number of women are interested in pursuing a career in green businesses. And the green market is a good place to be. The Labor Department states that according to The National Center for O*NET Development, several green occupations are “Bright Outlook” occupations, meaning they are expected to grow rapidly from 2008 – 2018, with a combined increase of 100,000 or more job openings. Some jobs designated as “Bright Outlook” are wind turbine service technicians, solar photovoltaic installers and recycling coordinators. The report was produced to support Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis’s vision of “Good Jobs for Everyone.” The downloadable green jobs guide is designed to help women learn about the opportunities available in the renewable energy space, which they may not have previously considered. March 6, 2012 The Green Revolution: Not Just For Men “We have dynamic, driven women in both leadership and student roles at Ecotech and they send an important message of encouragement that females have a promising future in renewable careers,” said Mike Seifert, president of Ecotech Institute. To read the full “Why Green Is Your Color: A Woman’s Guide to a Sustainable Career” report click here: http:// www.dol.gov/wb/Green_Jobs_Guide/GreenJobs%20Ch%201.pdf. Ecotech Institute, which is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, offers seven highly practical degree programs and one certificate program that provide graduates with skills valued by today’s alternative renewable energy employers. To learn more about Ecotech Institute, visit us online at www.ecotechinstitute.com/or call 877-326-5576. The next round of classes begins in April and applications are being accepted now. Financial assistance is available to those who qualify.
  18. 18. page 18 March 7, 2012 U.S. Department of Labor Tells Women It’s Time to Get Green Jobs For all the talk about “green jobs” being a driver of the economy, the fact these jobs are historically dominated by men has largely been omitted from the conversation. In its latest report, the U.S. Department of Labor looks to change that. In terms of employment opportunities, women have had fight continuously to be seen as equals in the workforce. And, although gender equality may seem antiquated by some, the fact is, on the whole, women are valued less than men in the labor market -- even in new economic industries such as renewable energy. However, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis holds a different vision for America, one in which the country creates good jobs for everyone. This vision was the driving force behind the Department’s investigatory research into green jobs and women. The report, entitled, Why Green Is Your Color: A Woman’s Guide to a Sustainable Career highlights several very promising opportunities in the cleantech sector for women. The report shows numerous green occupations which have been designated “Bright Outlook” jobs by the Department. A “Bright Outlook” occupation is one that is expected to grow rapidly -- increase by 100,000 openings or more -- between 2008 and 2018. Some of these positions include wind turbine service technicians and solar photovoltaic installers. Practical vocational development for the renewable energy industry is growing in leaps and bounds as student demand for these programs increases. One institution, the Ecotech Institute, has been established with the sole intention to train America’s workforce for careers in clean energy and sustainability. Ecotech, says it is seeing more women become interested in renewable energy careers. As Susan Pawlak, Ecotech’s Director of Career Services, says, “We are focused on making Ecotech a welcoming environment for women because we know they have a lot to offer in current and emerging green careers.”
  19. 19. page 19 March 12, 2012 The Wearing of Green | Kyle Crider What color should be seen Where our fathers’ homes have been But their own immortal Green? ~Author Unknown 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. According to www.History.com, “St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, the saint’s religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years.” Today the celebrations extend far from Ireland—the largest taking place in North America—but range as far as Japan, Singapore and Russia. Green is, of course, a prominent feature of St. Patrick’s Day celebration garb and gear. The popular phrase embodied in this blog’s title refers to the long-standing practice of wearing a shamrock on one’s clothing, but today’s holiday celebrants’ affinity for green now extends far beyond the 3-lobed saintly symbol. The extension of green from shamrock to celebration is easy to understand. But how did green come to be associated with all things environmental? According to Wikipedia, the word green is closely related to the Old English verb growan, “to grow.” Common connotations of the word also include nature, grass, hope, youth, and spring. So you don’t have to ascribe to the theory of biophilia to see how green came to be associated with “tree huggers.” Like the saint whose name now graces a popular drinking holiday, environmentalists often are seen as being too uptight, legalistic, and downright un-fun. While I believe there are clear environmental warning messages that need to be imparted, carrot approaches work much better than sticks. So kick back and enjoy being green. This is a party for our mutual future on this planet, not a wake for eco-disaster. Here are few fun ideas: Try turning environmental goals into games. Lead a hike, canoe trip, or urban nature scavenger hunt. It’s hard to cultivate a true love for nature if you’ve only seen it on the Discovery Channel. Read a good green book—not a doom and gloom one, but one with practical solutions and real hope. I’m currently reading Reinventing Fire by Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute. Won’t you join the party? Oh, and be sure to wear something green. “Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!” (Happy St. Patrick’s Day!)
  20. 20. page 20 March 19, 2012 Do You Think that Food Grows on Trees | Kyle Crider “The diligent farmer plants trees, of which he himself will never see the fruit.” ~Cicero 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 —and we should be growing more of these kinds of food plants, for our health and for the future of our planet. The Old Testament informs us that “All flesh is grass,” and if we are what we eat, our current agriculture certainly affirms that statement. Our top four food crops—sugar cane, corn, wheat, and rice—are all grasses. (Turf grass actually is our nation’s top irrigated crop, at more than 40 million acres, but as humans can’t eat turf grass, I am excluding it from this list.) Corn alone covers more than 70 million acres of the U.S., but corn is the “killer of continents.” The average acre of Iowa corn land, for example, loses more than a 5 tons of topsoil to wind and water erosion every year. Much of this erosion could be eliminated if we planted fruit- and nut-yielding tree crops, or even perennial versions of our favorite annual grain crops. Perennial grains also require less water, fertilizer, and herbicides. The use of perennials and tree crops is an important aspect of permaculture. In his book Introduction to Permaculture, author Bill Mollison says, “Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable human environments. The word itself is a contraction not only of permanent and agriculture but also of permanent culture, as cultures cannot survive for long without a sustainable agricultural base and land use ethic.” Despite our current love of annual grains, humans evolved in trees long before we learned to walk upright on the plains. Fruits and nuts thus may be nature’s most appropriate and healthy food for us. Remember: The Garden of Eden was an orchard. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.” ~Chinese Proverb March 22, 2012 Interview with Kyle Crider | Dave Ramsey Kyle Crider did an on-air interview for The Source’s radio show, “Experience Pros.” Full audio not available.
  21. 21. April 2012
  22. 22. page 22 As the “green” economy continues to expand, so do training programs for workers entering these fields. One of the newest educators, Ecotech Institute, Aurora, Colo., will see its first class of 40 green graduates prepare to enter the workforce in June. The two-year technical institute bills itself as the “first and only college entirely focused on preparing students for careers in renewable energy,” according to academic dean Glenn Wilson. A second campus location is planned for Austin, Tex., to open in 2013. “Other colleges offer wind, solar, and energy efficiency programs, but at Ecotech, that’s all we do,” explains Wilson. “We have state- of-the-art laboratories with the latest equipment so that our students receive valuable and realistic hands-on training in addition to textbook instruction.” What’s more, each degree program is designed based on input from actual employers who will be hiring graduates for renewable energy jobs. Wilson, who holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in engineering management, has worked as a design engineer, engineering manager, and plant manager for Anheuser Busch over three decades. In those positions, much of his work involved energy efficiency, bio fuels, hydrogen cells, and some wind and solar applications. “Ecotech is now training the technicians I’ve been searching for and trying to train during the past 30 years of my career. Talented and educated engineering technicians are hard to come by in today’s workforce,” says Wilson. “These are the highly trained employees who work alongside engineers in keeping plants and equipment up and running.” Ecotech features small classes with hands-on, individualized instruction from teachers with backgrounds in energy management; flexible class schedules; and nine labs focusing on electricity, electronics, solar, wind, and safety applications. Each two-year program costs roughly $35,000, not including cost of living expenses. Financial aid is available, as well as support for military personnel with educational benefits. Degree programs include wind energy technology, solar energy technology, energy efficiency, renewable energy technology, electrical engineering technology, environmental technology, and a program for energy and environmental paralegals. Compared with a traditional four-year engineering degree track, the Ecotech programs take two years to complete and confer an associate’s degree rather than a bachelor’s degree. Technical courses are based on algebra, rather than calculus, and graduates are considered engineering technicians rather than engineers. April 1, 2012 Off to renewable energy college | Frances Richards
  23. 23. page 23 “Another difference is the training itself. The Ecotech instruction is much more hands-on and practical, rather than theoretical,” explains Wilson. For example, the solar energy technology program provides instruction on operating, troubleshooting, maintaining, and repairing photovoltaic equipment, including how to perform maintenance and repair or replace parts to correct problems. Coursework is geared towards preparing students to perform diagnostic analyses and meet industry standards. According to the Solar Foundation, the job outlook appears promising for solar technicians. Solar energy is now a $6 billion industry, up 300% from 2006, with a job base that expanded 6.8% in a recent 12-month period — nearly 10 times faster than the overall economy. Solar employers forecast their workforce to grow 24% during 2012, according to the Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2011, compiled with BW Research Partnership’s Green LMI Consulting division and Cornell University. California continues to be the leader in solar employment, with 25,575 workers. Other states in the top 10 are Colorado, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Texas, Oregon, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. The two-year wind energy program at Ecotech similarly provides practical, hands-on training and a promising job outlook. Courses include instruction on how to evaluate new turbines and their readiness for operation, as well as how to resolve early stage electrical and mechanical faults. Instruction is geared toward preparing students to operate, troubleshoot, maintain, and repair a wind turbine operation, including solving complicated mechanical and electrical problems on variable pitch, variable speed turbines. Through hands- on labs, students also learn to perform mechanical, hydraulic, and electrical component maintenance, and to repair and replace parts to correct problems. As far as employment prospects, wind is now the fastest growing energy source in the U.S., and a recent report by the DOE suggests that it could contribute 20% of the nation’s electricity by 2030. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not collect data specific to wind energy jobs, the most recent figures from the American Solar Energy Society estimate 16,000 jobs in wind turbine construction and maintenance. These jobs were once limited to a few states that were early adopters of renewable energy, but wind farms now operate in 34 states. Most of these farms are owned by major utility companies that pay a wind energy company to install and maintain turbines. Because of this, many wind energy employees travel extensively as technicians specializing in turbine blade repair or electrical work. Beyond renewable energy, Ecotech also offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree in energy efficiency. The program coursework is geared towards how to analyze energy usage for residential and commercial buildings; recommend sustainable energy solutions for high-consumption structures; and recognize and correct inefficient building energy systems. Energy efficiency is considered to be one of the hottest areas for job growth, according to Wilson. The field includes jobs related to building retrofits, the smart grid, home weatherization, lighting upgrades, and grid infrastructure. Emerging job titles include energy auditor, weatherization operations manager, green building architect, and retrofit architect. Students trained in energy efficiency could enter careers in construction, manufacturing, consulting, HVAC installing and servicing, control systems, and other sectors. The BLS does not provide salary or other data for this specialty, but according to the Clean Tech Job Trends 2010 report from research firm Clean Edge Inc., the smart grid and energy efficiency category is third only to solar power and biofuels/biomaterials as one of the hottest clean-tech job sectors in the U.S.
  24. 24. page 24 No longer dependent on field experience alone, wind energy technician training is being conducted at cutting-edge facilities such as the Ecotech Institute. As early as 10 years ago, training for wind technicians was informal at best. Learning in the field was a way of life, and just a handful of individuals were responsible for wind turbines from conception to maintenance. In fact, it was often Depending on the degree program and whether or not graduates are willing to relocate or travel, Wilson believes starting salaries could be anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 annually. Ecotech’s enrollment now stands at 500 students among the different programs, with 85 to 100 new students starting each quarter. Student demographics vary as well, ranging from high school graduates to displaced workers in their 40s and 50s needing to train for a new career. “I’ve been working as a lighting and sound technician, but really needed to find a career,” says solar technology student Arien Sorenson, a 20-something from New Jersey. “I saw some ads for Ecotech a couple of years ago and it seemed like a perfect fit for me.” Sorenson’s wife is a teacher and the family’s chief breadwinner for now. Working as a lighting and sound technician for Red Rocks Amphitheatre and other entertainment venues paid the bills, but was not an ideal career choice for the long term, says Sorenson, because of grueling hours and the seasonal nature of outdoor concerts. He will officially graduate as part of Ecotech’s first class in June, but has decided to continue for two more quarters to earn a wind energy degree as well. “Many of the core courses are the same among the programs, and I figure I will be that much more marketable if I have both the solar and wind degrees under my belt,” explains Sorenson, who hopes to eventually work for a wind company such as Vestas and live near the beach. “Getting back into the swing of school was challenging after 10 years out, but I was able to do it with the help of great teachers,” Sorenson continues. “The time has gone by very quickly and I’ve really enjoyed it.” Green training resources Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center, www.ateec.org Association for Energy Engineers, www.aeecenter.org Interstate Renewable Energy Council, www.irecusa.org Ecotech Institute, (877) 326-5576, www.ecotechinstitute.com April 1, 2012 The Evolution of Wind Training | Shawn Lamb
  25. 25. page 25 the same engineers who designed the turbines who would install, commission, and even service them. “On the job training literally started at zero,” according to Walter Christmas, a wind energy technology instructor at the Ecotech Institute. “The best hiring managers could do was find people with a technical aptitude and fill in the gaps of their knowledge and skills with ongoing training.” Having spent time at both Suzlon and Christmas Windpower Services, he has seen firsthand how the industry has changed over time. “Wind companies were extremely lucky if they could find one person with experience in electronics, mechanics, hydraulics, and programmable logic controllers who could also climb a 200-foot tower and work in extreme conditions of heat and cold,” he says. “Needless to say, not everybody is suited for a job as a wind turbine technician. Of course, this means that the supply/demand curves added up to really good wages for a lucky few who found their way toward a career in wind.” Responding to the need for trained technicians, some strategically located community colleges started grouping previously existing shop classes into a wind turbine technology concentration of study. In fact, turbine manufacturers were known to donate nacelles to be repeatedly torn apart, examined, and reassembled. But this approach wasn’t a fully functioning training process, and industry-trained instructors were often still missing from the educational experience. Five years ago training became more formalized, but it was still primarily conducted in-house by manufacturers or service companies such as the GE Energy Learning Center and Nordex USA, where I gained my passion for and knowledge of wind energy. From my time with these businesses I was able to see how people from a variety of backgrounds found a place in the wind industry, but with drastically different experience. It made an incredible impact on both the training approach and the time it took to achieve mastery. Employers’ Demands So the quandary businesses were stuck with was this: Do employers go with on the job training, which can be slow and costly, or do they seek employees who have gone through school programs, which may lack the hands-on training and industry insight that students need? It soon became apparent that a third option was necessary. As the wind industry continued to grow, the demand also increased for proper wind training. It became apparent that specific skill sets, courage, professionalism, and a dogged attention to the details were all necessary to complete the job role and a hybrid of classroom education and practical training was necessary to meet employer demand. Wind energy employers wanted then and continue to demand three things: hands-on, technical training; a deep understanding of theory that allows the ability to troubleshoot on the worksite; and soft skills such as communication and work ethic. This means that companies require employees to be trained through programs that embrace theoretical knowledge and practical training with a complete turbine system. In addition, prime job candidates understand advanced concepts such as variable frequency drives, IGBT frequency converters, fiber optics, programmable logic controllers, and remote SCADA control. Figure 1 “The ability to apply theoretical knowledge in a real-world setting is what separates a wrench-turning technician from a technician who can use training and deductive reasoning skills to diagnose the real issues plaguing a turbine,” Christmas says. Setting the Standard The wind energy training and safety labs at Ecotech Institute serve as a showpiece for the campus. The school’s parent company, Education Corporation of America, knew that Ecotech’s success would be contingent on state
  26. 26. page 26 of the art labs that focus on hands-on learning of the latest industry technology, while incorporating the critical component of safety training. Ecotech began classes in April 2010 at a temporary location while its permanent facility was built. The school was erected where a vacant building resided, transforming it into a LEED Gold-Certified campus with cutting- edge labs throughout. It opened in January 2011, and the wind labs were continuously upgraded through the end of the calendar year. “Our labs are a critical piece of the student experience and our narrow focus on renewable energy plays a key role in our success,” says Mike Seifert, president of Ecotech Institute, adding that the first class will graduate in June. “Pair top-notch technology with educators from industry, and we believe that we became the first institute to produce students who will be the best, most prepared employees in the renewable energy sector.” Ecotech’s recently completed wind energy and safety labs use a wide variety of real-life elements for complete training. The Wind Training Lab contains a double-fed induction generator trainer, fiber optic splicing kit, laser generator alignment lab, borescopes, composite blade repair kit, tap and die sets, bolt extractors, micrometers, torque wrenches, thermographic camera, high voltage tools, oil sampling kit, phase rotation meters, megaohm meter, FLUKE multimeters with insulation testers, a Lab-Volt Wind Turbine Nacelle Trainer, Lab-Volt Wind Turbine Hub Trainer, Lab-Volt Hydraulic Trainers, and several wind farm simulation software packages. The Wind Safety Lab includes a 25-foot climb and rescue tower, Miller Evolution harnesses and lanyards, a Rescue Randy dummy, a Miller Safe Escape rescue device, Lab-Volt cranes and a rigging trainer. Ecotech will soon have a HYTORC brand torque and tensioning trainer, as well. The integrated systems approach offered by Lab-Volt’s Wind Turbine Training Simulators provide a very realistic view of the functionality and programming of a large, commercial wind turbine. The nacelle and hub trainers were designed by Siemens for Lab-Volt and very closely simulate the operation states of the turbine, which is important in training the controllers and troubleshooting input and output faults. Figure 2 The nacelle is a focal part of Ecotech’s training, equipped with all of the systems of a utility-scale nacelle— yaw, pitch, hydraulics, PLCs, and the vibration, thermal, and environmental sensors that the big turbines use to operate efficiently. There are many mechanical and electrical aspects of the turbine that are important, but understanding how the turbine operates as an automated power plant is the most critical. Once a commissioner or service tech understands how the turbine controller “thinks,” they can troubleshoot it more effectively. I’m also passionate about the importance of being able to read and interpret electrical schematics, for not only connections, but for function and safety. “The fully operational PLC and SCADA system in our lab allows us to remotely troubleshoot, just like in the industry,” says Auston Van Slyke, another wind energy instructor at Ecotech and former Vestas commissioner. “The most important element is having the functional experience, which allows you to safely start climbing towers and fixing machines on your first day of work.” Ecotech can take someone with little to no electro-mechanical background and teach him or her the fundamentals of science, physics, math, electronics, electromagnetic theory, power generation, programming PLCs, project management, business, Microsoft Office, and the core skills required by the wind industry. It’s a complete package that many companies have waited a long time to find. However, expensive technology obviously doesn’t do the teaching itself. Proper curriculum building and industry-leading instructors round out the equation. “Instructors can create real faults in the system that students must diagnose and correct,” Christmas says. “This brings together all of the specialized training they’ve received in their earlier classes.”
  27. 27. page 27 Ecotech’s prominent board of advisors was instrumental in creating the curriculum, tapping their own knowledge and a variety of other industry leaders to match up coursework with what employers want in regards to training and daily job demands. Ecotech also recently created a local board of advisors, which allows program directors, like myself, to stay current with the latest industry trends and technologies, while staying agile in changing curriculum according to the newest trends. Represented companies include RES Americas, Alstom Power, NextEra, and Clipper Windpower. Looking Forward Wind energy companies are no longer in the position where they simply take eager employees and train them on the job. The wind energy workforce is quickly evolving and relies on targeted and thorough training provided by well-equipped and well-funded training programs. “Ecotech is training a new generation of technicians who are prepared on day one to assess the general health and efficiency of wind turbines,” says Christmas. “Every time a technician climbs a tower, there is an opportunity to recognize a developing problem with a turbine that can be effectively dealt with before it becomes a costly repair. When Ecotech students join the workforce after the school’s first graduation in June, they will set a new standard by incorporating this value-added approach into their daily work habits.” Ecotech Institute’s Wind Energy Technology track is a two-year associate’s degree program focused on the generation and transmission of energy using wind power. Designed with employer input, graduates will be prepared to enter the workforce as wind energy technicians. “Soon the manufacturing companies will be closing their own training departments and supporting the development of schools like ours,” Van Slyke predicts. As the Director of Career Services at Ecotech Institute, I have the opportunity to engage with students whose enthusiasm is contagious. They are looking to make positive change, proud of what they are accomplishing, and excited about the future. Our first graduates will receive their diplomas in June 2012 and, although we expect to have nearly 100 percent placement for all of our graduates, Congress needs to understand its role in the creation of future cleantech jobs. Congress is currently considering the Production Tax Credit (PTC), which needs an extension. If that extension doesn’t happen, the U.S. could potentially lose tens of thousands of wind energy jobs. In fact, a study by Navigant Consulting shows that wind energy jobs would be cut in half from 78,000 in 2012 to 41,000 in 2013 and investments would drop by nearly two-thirds. During a time when unemployment numbers take up the headlines, how can we even consider not extending the tax credit? Especially when there is so much forward momentum. Wind energy is one of the fastest growing manufacturing sectors today. In the last six years, the production of U.S. wind turbine components has grown 12-fold to more than 400 facilities in 43 states, according to the American Wind Energy Association. If the PTC is extended, almost 100,000 jobs will be added in just four years. April 1, 2012 Congressional Mandate | Susan Pawlak
  28. 28. page 28 The tax credit is so critical because it allows for renewable energy innovation. However, companies are already putting the brakes on new projects until they know, with clarity, if the tax credit will continue next year. A reliable, long-term tax policy is needed to help make sure our country is a renewable energy leader for years to come. Fossil fuels will eventually dry up, so we need to act now. We must continue to move the needle forward. We simply can’t leave this problem for the next generation. President Obama has often talked about his full support of renewable energy. In fact, during a recent stop in Colorado after his State of the Union address, the President talked about the importance of renewable energy and the jobs this industry creates. He made his remarks just miles from Ecotech Institute, which is the first and only college in the U.S. solely focused on preparing America’s workforce for careers in renewable energy and sustainability. Ecotech was founded because of the need to educate future employees who will lead our country away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy. In just one year, Ecotech has grown from 119 students to 473. The students whom I have the pleasure of working with are passionate, dedicated and determined to help our country. We need to make sure politics don’t block the bright future we all see. Congress can’t let the tax credit expire and it needs to understand the implications. If the tax credit expires, jobs will be cut, the economy will suffer and much of the progress we’ve made will be erased. This isn’t a matter of Republicans vs. Democrats, but instead a matter of job creation and the U.S. leading the world in sustainability and innovation. Write your Congressional representatives today and urge them to understand all facets of the Production Tax Credit. It’s good for employment, renewable energy growth and, last but not least, our planet. April 2, 2012 Getting Green Done: Wind Energy Technology | Kyle Crider “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” ~ William Arthur Ward Wind power is the fastest growing source of electrical power in the world, according to the American Solar Energy Society. If you’re fascinated with renewable energy and a cleaner future, why wouldn’t you want to catch this breeze? Ecotech Institute’s Wind Energy Technology program is designed to prepare students for careers in renewable
  29. 29. page 29 energy. This two-year associate’s degree program is designed with employer input to prepare graduates with a solid foundation in the fundamentals of renewable energy while specializing in the generation and transmission of energy using wind power. Well maintained facilities, modern labs, and small class sizes give students the opportunity to apply theory to the real world. Graduates may pursue careers in the growing workforce as wind energy technicians. Our Wind Energy Technology program might be right for you if you… Love working outdoors. Want to help develop cleaner, more sustainable energy. Are interested in working on mechanical devices. Enjoy math and science. Like working with power tools to assemble, repair or install. So plug into Wind Energy Technology Training–and get green done! April 23, 2012 Our Urban Planet | Kyle Crider “A great city is not to be confounded with a populous one.” ~Aristotle 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. As Scientific American pointed out in its September 2011 issue dedicated to cities, these milestones aren’t nearly as significant as the trend: “In the 20th century cities grew more than 10-fold, from 250 million people to 2.8 billion. In the coming decades, the U.N. predicts, the number of people living in cities will continue to rise. By 2050 the world population is expected to surpass nine billion and urban dwellers to surpass six billion. Two in three people born in the next 30 years will live in cities.” Cities are amazing things. They may grow, but they rarely die; often they outlast the empires or nations that gave birth to them.[i] Although we believe them to spring purely from human intent and design, they follow rules of nature that we are only beginning to understand.[ii] They take us to unprecedented heights of culture and learning, but they may be driving us insane.[iii] They may help save the planet[iv]… or destroy it.[v] One thing is certain: We must “green” our cities, both for the long-term health of our planet and, more immediately, for our own individual health. The first problem is that poorly-designed cities are making us fatter. [vi] The second problem is that, as many cities are currently designed, they deprive us of much-needed contact with nature. To address these problems, we must invite nature into our cities, harmonize with it, and
  30. 30. page 30 design with it rather than against it. Then we must maximize human contact with urban nature by encouraging walking and biking along corridors that incorporate healthy native waterways, vegetation, and wildlife. Here are just a few of the exciting possibilities for greening our cities… I encourage you to enter the following words in your favorite search engine for more details: biomimicry, green roofs, green walls, mixed-use development, rain gardens, urban farming, urban resilience, vertical farming, walkable cities, wildlife corridors. The best cities do not try to separate humans from nature. Likewise, the best cities do not try to separate humans from humans, based on artificial class or race distinctions. Diversification leads to exchange of ideas and innovation; homogeneity leads only to stagnation. “What is the city but the people?” ~William Shakespeare, Coriolanus
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  34. 34. page 34 May 4, 2012 VA Officials Visit Ecotech Institute for PTSD Training | Adam Goldstein A team from the local Department of Veterans Affairs visited Ecotech Institute last month to train faculty members on the long-term effects of post-traumatic stress disorder in students. According to Phil Meyers, a program director and professor at the trade school on East Mississippi Avenue and Interstate 225, the two-hour training session came as a result of requests from faculty members. Ecotech, a trade school focused entirely on renewable energy, sustainable design and “green” technology that opened in its present location in 2011, has seen an influx of military veterans in its brief history, Meyers said. While faculty members aren’t qualified to treat PTSD in their students, they wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the condition and its everyday effects. “What we wanted was some training to make it easier for our faculty and staff to understand some of the issues that military and civilians have … so that we could be more sensitive. We wanted (to) have ways of helping them succeed in their academic environment.” The training included basic information about PTSD as it relates to military service, Meyers said. The two-hour training included lectures, question-and-answer sessions and videos of a military unit serving in Afghanistan. “They tried to make it as realistic as possible,” said Meyers, a Vietnam veteran. “(We saw) fairly raw footage of what the combatants were subjected to. The idea of this seemed to be to try to give people who’ve never been in a war situation a little better idea of what people in a war are subjected to.” That kind of background information could help faculty members recognize PTSD triggers in a classroom and give them tools to help students, Meyers said. “For example, if a classroom gets really excited about a topic and lots of people are talking at the same time, some people find that very difficult to tolerate,” Meyers said. “I tell students it’s perfectly OK to get up and leave the classroom. Take a lap around the campus and let yourself calm down.”
  35. 35. page 35 May 14, 2012 Light Bulbs and the Internet | Kyle Crider “It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble; it’s what we know that ain’t so.” ~Will Rogers 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.” If you wish to view these graphic images (you have been warned!), there is a link to a PDF version here. Or you can view the images and a critical analysis of the mercury poisoning claim here. In short, there is no credible evidence that the graphic pictures have anything to do with mercury poisoning. In fact, we have no idea where the pictures were taken, or when, or what condition is actually depicted. It’s all just Internet hearsay. Let’s dig a little deeper… The Salisbury article concludes: “Mercury is a toxin, and should be treated with the utmost of care and respect. A CFL may look benign, and make you feel good about ‘going green,’ but once the poison is ‘out of its box’ and able to cause an exposure, it’s a brand new deal. Stay Safe folks!” Well, surely this is true… I mean, it’s an official local fire department publication! Or, as the old joke goes: “It must be true. I read it on the Internet!” When in doubt, always go to the most-credible authoritative source. Is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) credible enough? The article itself claims that the EPA recommends ventilating the room for a “MINIMUM of 15 minutes” if a CFL bulb is broken. So let’s go to the EPA, and specifically, to their CFL information page. The first link, “Precautions to take when a CFL breaks,” takes us to a page that advises: “Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.” Hmmm… first indication of a problem. Already, the “facts” don’t quite jive. But let’s cut right to the chase. The EPA’s fact sheet (PDF), “Frequently Asked Questions—Information on Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) and Mercury” states that “CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing – an average of 4 milligrams (mg). By comparison, older thermometers contain about 500 milligrams of mercury –an amount equal to the mercury in 125 CFLs [emphasis mine].” If this amount of mercury truly is something to worry about, why aren’t fire departments waging a war on older thermometers? Don’t get me wrong: exposure to mercury can be dangerous and should be avoided. But we need to assess relative risk realistically, and not vilify energy-saving CFLs. Once upon a time, when I was very young, I actually ate one of those old-style thermometers—consuming, as we have seen, the equivalent mercury of 125 CFLs.
  36. 36. page 36 Aside from a propensity to rant about the need for critical thinking, I turned out all right. So if you break a CFL, there is no need to freak out. I don’t know whether the fear-mongering Salisbury article simply is an example of shoddy fact-checking or if this is yet another sad example of the politically-motivated war on efficient light bulbs. (Hey, did you hear the one about Obama banning incandescent light bulbs and forcing poisonous CFLs on folks? Never mind that it was George W. Bush who signed the actual legislation… it must be true. I read it on the Internet!) When in doubt, check it out. And it is best to doubt… even supposedly reputable sources can fall prey to Internet hearsay. “No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof.” ~Henry David Thoreau May 31, 2012 New Perspectives: Green roofs and climate change | Kyle Crider 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. You’re probably wondering what I was doing on a roof at UAB, in the middle of the day, during yet another of the hottest springs on record. Along with Hrynyshyn and UAB Scientists and Engineers for America chapter president Desmond Villalba, I was touring Hulsey Center’s “green roof.” The tour was led by Robert Peters, Ph.D., professor of environmental engineering at UAB. “What is a green roof?” you might ask. Well, green roofs are green in the literal sense, thanks to the presence of live plants. They are also green in contemporary social contexts, in that they save money while being ecologically-friendly. At first consideration, green roofs may seem like a bad thing. I mean, in the past, stuff growing on your roof was an indication your roof had problems. But UAB roofing specialist Roger Brown designed the Hulsey Center roof with several layers under autoclave-aerated concrete, including a polypropolene-type liner, a Styrofoam- type insulation, and a plastic that looks like an egg carton. This roof can hold 6,000 gallons of water, and it is designed to catch the rainwater and delay its release to minimize the potential for flooding. The design has even captured the attention of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, which is interested in promoting green roofs throughout the state. Dr. Peters compared natural gas, water and electricity bills for the Hulsey Building four years prior to the green roof installation in July 2008 with those following the installation. The green roof has shaved between 20 and 25 percent off utility expenses, far exceeding UAB Facilities expectations! This brings me to James Hrynyshyn and his “Big Switch” talk. It turns out that green roofs are one of the many “big switches” we need to make in order to combat climate change.
  37. 37. page 37 U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu advocates them, estimating that we could save $735 million per year if 85% of our air-conditioned buildings had white or reflective roofs. We’ve certainly seen utility bill savings at Education Corporation of America, where we install Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO) white membrane insulated roof systems at all of our campuses. Roofs, both white and green, help save the planet as well as money. This is because of something called the “heat island” effect. According to the UAB Reporter Archive, “heat island is a term describing the phenomenon in which urban and suburban temperatures are 2 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (1 to 6 degrees Celsius) hotter than nearby rural areas. Elevated temperatures alter communities by increasing peak energy demand, air- conditioning costs, air-pollution levels and heat-related illness and mortality.” Reflective and vegetated roofs cool their surroundings both directly and indirectly. In addition to direct cooling effects, such roofs reduce the need for fossil-fuel based power to run air conditioners, which in turn reduces emissions of carbon dioxide and thus lessens the impact of future global warming. So the next time you’re up on your roof, take a look around. Sometimes all we need to make a big switch is a little perspective. May 18, 2012 Ecotech Institute Announces Partnership with Veterans Green Jobs News of the Week: Education & Research Curriculum Ecotech Institute Announces Partnership with Veterans Green Jobs1. The institute, which focuses entirely on renewable energy and sustainability, has partnered with Veterans Green Jobs to enhance opportunities for military veterans in the green job sector. Sixty-seven students at the institute are military veterans or currently serving in the military. Co-Curricular Education & Student Organizing Clarkson U Students Initiate Energy-Efficient Campus Solutions1. Student research, funded by the university’s sustainability fund, has concluded that the university could save up to $600,000 annually on energy bills by installing motion sensor-controlled lighting in its residence halls. The student group installed motion sensor lighting on one of the school’s older residence halls and recorded the difference in the amount of energy used. Their research was recently singled out by the New York State Pollution Prevention Initiative in a contest among teams from partner universities throughout New York. Mills College Students Launch Bike Co-Op2. A group of students have created the Spokes Folks Bike Co-Op, providing a community support system, bike-repair seminars and maintenance tools. The co-op aims to provide access to bicycles to those who do not own bikes. See also: AASHE Resource: Bicycle Share Programs on Campus (AASHE Member Resource)
  38. 38. page 38 ‘Can an MBA Change the World?’ Video Contest Winners Announced1. A group of five students at Dartmouth College’s (New Hampshire) Tuck School of Business have won the Global Business School Network’s 2012 MBA Challenge Video Contest, which asked the question “Can an MBA Change the World?” The winning video describes the application of the students’ business school skills to address the need for low-cost housing in Haiti. A team from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill earned second place in the competition with a video about their work in Eastern Africa on sustainability-focused projects. U Louisville Students Install Recycled Solar Panels2. Members of the university’s Renewable Energy and Efficiency Club are installing a small-scale solar energy project using recycled materials. Students purchased the solar cells from eBay and re- engineered the cell architecture to use a low-cost method. The panels will be used to power two fans that will ventilate a greenhouse. See also: AASHE Resource: Campus Solar Photovoltaic Installations Thomas More College Turns Green Spaces into Art3. The college’s new Sculpting Spaces project encourages the campus community to transform the campus’ green spaces into outdoor studios, laboratory classrooms and student galleries. Students and faculty are working to create artistic spaces while learning about landscape design and sustainability practices. “They won’t listen. Do you know why? Because they have certain fixed notions about the past. Any change would be blasphemy in their eyes, even if it were the truth. They don’t want the truth; they want their traditions.” ~Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky I’ll never forget the wonderful teacher I had for Honors English my first year in college. Like the other mentors in my life, he began to teach me by first challenging my assumptions. “How do you know what you think you know?” he asked. By this question he introduced me to the study of knowledge (epistemology), and in particular, the knowledge that may be imparted via books, both fiction and non-fiction. How do you know what you think you know? It seems to me that the older we grow, the less we question reality. The Talmud warns, “We do not see things as they are; we see them as we are.” We jokingly disparage others’ world views, asking, “What color is the sky in your little world?” But we rarely question the color of the sky in our own. Independent, verifiable proof is one of the benefits of science and scientific thought, as I have previously written. Other people may verify our claims of reality for themselves if we publish our data sets and our experiments are reproducible. But even if everyone accepts the validity of our data, we rarely agree on what we should do about it. Science can answer life’s “What?” questions, and even the “How?” and “When?” questions, but the “Why?” questions May 24, 2012 Applying Knowledge | Susan Pawlak
  39. 39. page 39 remain the subject of religion and philosophy, and the “What should we do about it?” questions, the subject of politics and public policy. “Ay, there’s the rub,” as Shakespeare might say. So we have two problems. To get things done, we first must agree on the facts. Then we have to agree what we should do with this information. In formal logic, this is an “A AND B” situation. Just getting to A is a problem, as humans appear to be “hard-wired” to view the world in certain ways, and to filter all incoming data according to these world views: “Your What does not fit within my Why philosophy.” We selectively accept the data that fits with our world view, and reject that which does not (“confirmation bias”).
  40. 40. June 2012
  41. 41. page 41 June 1, 2012 Looking for a high degree of success | Adam Goldstein The 42 students who receive their associate degrees from Ecotech Institute later this month will have plenty of people tracking their progress after they walk across the stage. It won’t just be proud family members and friends who will follow the professional paths of Ecotech’s first graduating class. The attention will go further than former Gov. Bill Ritter, who will deliver the commencement speech at the ceremony in Denver on June 21. Ecotech administrators and instructors, as well as officials from the school’s parent company, the Alabama-based Education Corporation of America, will keep a careful eye on the grads. The future of the trade school that’s focused entirely on renewable energy, sustainable design and “green” technology depends on their success; Ecotech’s accreditation is tied to the professional future of the first class. “The first thing we measure is how many of them have jobs in their field within 90 days of graduating. We want to ensure that as many (who) want jobs can have them,” said Glenn Wilson, Ecotech’s academic dean, adding that the data holds a sway with the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools. “We’re audited. When they did our last audit, we had no violations. Our next one is 2013.” Since Ecotech held its first classes in a temporary facility off East Iliff Avenue in late 2009 and later opened its 620,000-square-foot campus on South Abilene Street near East Mississippi Avenue and Interstate 225 in 2010, the school has drawn national media attention for its specialized, “green” focus. With the support of a national advertising campaign, the number of students at the school has grown steadily in the past two years, ballooning from an initial class of less than 100 to a current enrollment of about 500. Specifically, the school grew by about 400 percent in a single year. That growth has come along with a similar expansion in equipment and faculty. The school opened with a faculty of one program director and two instructors; now the school’s ranks comprise three program directors and 24 instructors. In 2011, the building itself earned its LEED certification. “One big change is that we’re around 500 students now. The size of the school has grown. We have all our labs built out. When we opened, we didn’t have all of our classes in place,” Wilson said, pointing to the addition late last year of new equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The new training tools included a Lab-Volt Wind Turbine Nacelle Trainer, a Lab-Volt Wind Turbine Hub Trainer and software programs designed to simulate the operation of a real wind-farm. “We are constantly talking to our local advisory boards. We’ve made adjustments and changes. We’ve added equipment, we’ve added better textbooks.”
  42. 42. page 42 But since Ecotech is a for-profit school, the real test of its durability lies in the economic success of its grads. Like other schools run by the ECA (including the Virginia College, Culinard: The Culinary Institute of Virginia and the Golf Academy of America), Ecotech’s credentials depend on results, a fact that hasn’t escaped administrators and owners. “With our first group of graduates in June, we can’t wait to see where they go,” EcoTech President Mike Seifert said in a statement earlier this year. “This is definitely going to be a big year for us.” So far, Ecotech officials aren’t concerned about the fate of the school’s first crop of graduates. According to administrators, the school has pumped plenty of resources into its Career Services Department, establishing early contacts with solar, wind and other renewable energy companies in Colorado and beyond. “Well over half are placed already, which is really exciting for us. Already, quite a few of them have good jobs,” Wilson said. “This first class has been very enthusiastic and very interested in the whole energy field.” June 6, 2012 Location, Location, Location | Kyle Crider “The three most important things about real estate are location, location, location.” ~Real Estate Axiom The interesting thing about the extension of the once-fixed Internet to mobile smart phones is how location- based everything is becoming. From real-time directions and trip tracking on Google Maps to checking in on Foursquare once we reach our destination, we have become creatures of Global Positioning System (GPS) habit. No wonder we feel lost without our smart phones these days. I was a GPS geek—well, actually, a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) geek—long before GPS-enabled smart phones were cool. In the Dark Ages before GPS phones, we were forced to calculate our geographic location with clunky units the size of large backpacks. Before Google Earth made GIS available to the masses inexpensively or at no charge, we toiled under complicated “vertical market” applications with expensive software licenses. (Before this, there was the realm of actual acetate overlays, but I will leave this manual epoch to those studying GIS prehistory.) The first terabyte-sized storage device I ever saw was used for storing GIS maps at the government agency where I once worked. There, I first saw the awesome power in tying real-world data to maps, which is a pretty good simple definition for GIS. If you can geo-reference data, you have a lever by which you can move the world. It is probably clear even to non-GIS users how maps tied to—and drawn from—databases can be used to save the planet in ways such as identifying ecologically-sensitive areas, species boundaries, and floodplains. But what does GIS have to do with green building (other than, perhaps, where not to site the building)? Quite a lot, it turns out. Especially if you include related fields such as Computer-Assisted Drafting (CAD —think Google Sketchup) and Building Information Modeling (BIM). Location-based tools not only help you
  43. 43. page 43 site your building; they help you build it virtually and even test its efficiency and performance using real-world environmental factors from your chosen location. But even the best-laid building plans can be sabotaged by mice and men. We’ve all heard horror stories of marvelous design and technology going out the window when people actually moved into a building and began ignoring, circumventing, or even sabotaging cleantech features. Well, it turns out that location-based technology can help with these problems, too. Today’s building monitors and software can keep track of where building occupants are and what they are doing, allowing building managers to better plan for, respond to, and intervene when necessary, to keep building efficiency goals on-track. (It also helps that we have learned that educating employees while simultaneously giving them more control over their workspace environment avoids the need for “Big Brother”-style controls.) Here are some recent exciting developments involving green buildings and location-based technologies: The Honest Buildings real estate network—dubbed “Facebook for buildings”—is releasing data on• more than 15,000 commercial and mixed-use buildings in the D.C. metro area in order to provide transparency and encourage competition for energy-efficient buildings. The Green Building Information Gateway has similar aims, but is nationwide and LEED-specific.• Esri’s GIS for Facilities Management page lists success stories and other links involving GIS technology• throughout the lifecycle of a facility for facilities managers. Finally, here is a short YouTube video example of Merging Facility Data with GIS and BIM.• Here at Education Corporation of America, we are actively engaging these technologies to manage our own facilities, from HVAC and lighting controls with night and weekend setbacks, through our first energy information system with public dashboard at Ecotech Institute. Are you utilizing some combination of GIS, CAD, and BIM to plan and manage your buildings? If so, we would like to share stories and hear what you have learned. June 19, 2012 The Best of Times | Kyle Crider “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” ~Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities This is a favorite quote of my mentor, a Harvard-trained physicist who went back to school to earn his Masters in Literature and History and his Ph.D. in Literature and Art. Dr. Edward Passerini could explain theoretical physics while expounding upon the virtues of Larry Gonick’s The Cartoon History of the Universe. Everything I ever needed to know about sustainability I first learned from “Ed.” It’s no wonder I’m a big believer in interdisciplinary education. I believe the “silos” that are so present in education, research, business, and culture are a major contributing factor to our current social and environmental problems. Interdisciplinary/ cross-cultural education helps break down silos and leads to more sustainable solutions. I can think of no field that is more fertile with cross-disciplinary research and practical application than the broad field of sustainability. Today’s green buildings borrow from nature’s designs (biomimicry) as well
  44. 44. page 44 as our own historic architecture. Their features rely on both cutting-edge physics research and time-honored practices passed down from “primitive” peoples. They are works of art as well as monuments to science. Some of them even sing. If I can boil the gist of this article down to a single kernel, it is this: Read. Read deeply, but more importantly, read broadly. Read non-fiction as well as fiction. It may not be economically or environmentally feasible to physically travel and experience the world’s countries and cultures, but we can read about them. I use the term “read” loosely – read books that are nothing but pictures, listen to audio books during your commute, watch TED talk videos, take free online classes, meet folks and learn from other countries and cultures via the wonders of Internet social networking. So by read, I mean learn, meet, experience, be surprised. Never lose your childhood sense of wonder, when every new thing invoked a “Why?” question. So—what are you reading now? I’m enjoying Reinventing Fire, by Amory Lovins and his team at Rocky Mountain Institute. (Now there’s a book to read—especially if you’re depressed over the current political silos and need some good news.) My latest audio book choice for my work commute is The Information by James Gleick. At home, I have a book of ghost stories by my bedside to ensure, er, pleasant dreams. I’m also taking Code Academy’s classes online—although I have to admit I’m way behind schedule on this one. Good thing it’s “learn at your own pace.” Weekly is just a suggestion. Speaking of classes, it’s never too late to go back to school. Me? I’m in a Ph.D. program at middle-age. I used to joke that I wanted my doctorate before I was retirement age, but the older I get, the less funny the joke is. So what’s the use of a Ph.D. this late in life? Well, I can tell you, it’s not because I’m interested in pursuing tenure at some Ivory Tower institution, or even because it will enhance my career path, long and twisted as that has been. I’m in an engineering program, but I don’t even want to be a licensed engineer. I’m here because I want to learn—and I want to change the world. It’s always the worst of times, so let’s make the best of it. “Education is all a matter of building bridges.” ~ Ralph Ellison June 19, 2012 Aurora Daily Click Ecotech’s inaugural graduation ceremony was featured on the local Aurora TV station. Full video available on CD at the back of the clipbook.
  45. 45. page 45 June 20, 2012 Clean Energy College Sees First Graduates | Kathleen Zipp Ecotech Institute, which says it’s the first and only college entirely focused on preparing America’s workforce for careers in clean technology and sustainability, will hold its first graduation on Thursday, June 21, 2012. Forty-two students will receive their associate’s degrees, which prepares them for a career in the clean technology industry. The graduates will receive degrees in the following areas: Wind Energy Technology, Solar Energy Technology, Renewable Energy Technology and Electrical Engineering Technology. Former Governor Bill Ritter, who currently serves as the Director of the Colorado State University Center for the New Energy Economy, will deliver the commencement speech at the graduation. “As Governor, I was proud when Ecotech Institute chose Colorado as the place to locate the country’s first private technical institute devoted solely to preparing the workforce for the clean energy economy,” said Bill Ritter, Former Colorado Governor and current Director of the Colorado State University Center for the New Energy Economy. “It is a privilege to play a role in Ecotech’s first commencement, and to see the efforts of the staff and faculty come to fruition.” Students in this first graduating class began classes in a temporary facility in June 2010 as Ecotech completed an overhaul of an existing vacant building. In January 2011, they moved to the current LEED gold-certified campus in Aurora, Colorado. Today, Ecotech has more than 500 students and continues to grow. “This initial group of students are visionaries, as they signed up for classes before they were able to see the beautiful campus and cutting-edge labs,” said Mike Seifert, president of Ecotech Institute. “Now, a variety of clean tech companies are offering them excellent positions and their forward-thinking commitment is paying off. We applaud each of them and look forward to watching their success.” At Ecotech all students develop soft skills (communication, workplace etiquette), and math and science basics and technology skills, but the educational emphasis is on hands-on, practical training. Ecotech’s prestigious national board of advisors, who all work in clean tech industries, helped design the school’s curriculum, providing coursework that reflects what the students will experience upon graduation. “Ecotech is producing well-prepared graduates that are highly sought in industries such as ours,” said Jesse Masters, Recruiter from M-I SWACO, a Schlumberger Company. “Its curriculum and practical labs offer complete training that makes new employees ready to hit the ground running. We were very impressed with the interviews we conducted with students from this graduating class and are excited to have several of these graduates join our team.” Ecotech’s campus is LEED-gold certified and supports a commitment to sustainable living. The school generates approximately 5-10 percent of its energy from on-site clean, renewable energy sources such as rooftop wind turbines, solar panels, integral thin solar technologies embedded into the glass of the building canopy, and solar trees.
  46. 46. page 46 June 20, 2012 Clean Energy College Sees First Graduates | Kathleen Zipp Ecotech Institute, which says it’s the first and only college entirely focused on preparing America’s workforce for careers in clean technology and sustainability, will hold its first graduation on Thursday, June 21, 2012. Forty-two students will receive their associate’s degrees, which prepares them for a career in the clean technology industry. The graduates will receive degrees in the following areas: Wind Energy Technology, Solar Energy Technology, Renewable Energy Technology and Electrical Engineering Technology. Former Governor Bill Ritter, who currently serves as the Director of the Colorado State University Center for the New Energy Economy, will deliver the commencement speech at the graduation. “As Governor, I was proud when Ecotech Institute chose Colorado as the place to locate the country’s first private technical institute devoted solely to preparing the workforce for the clean energy economy,” said Bill Ritter, Former Colorado Governor and current Director of the Colorado State University Center for the New Energy Economy. “It is a privilege to play a role in Ecotech’s first commencement, and to see the efforts of the staff and faculty come to fruition.” Students in this first graduating class began classes in a temporary facility in June 2010 as Ecotech completed an overhaul of an existing vacant building. In January 2011, they moved to the current LEED gold-certified campus in Aurora, Colorado. Today, Ecotech has more than 500 students and continues to grow. “This initial group of students are visionaries, as they signed up for classes before they were able to see the beautiful campus and cutting-edge labs,” said Mike Seifert, president of Ecotech Institute. “Now, a variety of clean tech companies are offering them excellent positions and their forward-thinking commitment is paying off. We applaud each of them and look forward to watching their success.” At Ecotech all students develop soft skills (communication, workplace etiquette), and math and science basics and technology skills, but the educational emphasis is on hands-on, practical training. Ecotech’s prestigious national board of advisors, who all work in clean tech industries, helped design the school’s curriculum, providing coursework that reflects what the students will experience upon graduation. “Ecotech is producing well-prepared graduates that are highly sought in industries such as ours,” said Jesse Masters, Recruiter from M-I SWACO, a Schlumberger Company. “Its curriculum and practical labs offer complete training that makes new employees ready to hit the ground running. We were very impressed with the interviews we conducted with students from this graduating class and are excited to have several of these graduates join our team.” Ecotech’s campus is LEED-gold certified and supports a commitment to sustainable living. The school generates approximately 5-10 percent of its energy from on-site clean, renewable energy sources such as rooftop wind turbines, solar panels, integral thin solar technologies embedded into the glass of the building canopy, and solar trees.
  47. 47. July 2012
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  49. 49. page 49 July 1, 2012 Launch Pad: Ecotech Institute
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  51. 51. page 51 July 3, 2012 Aurora Daily Click Ecotech’s inaugural graduation ceremony was featured on the local Aurora TV station. Full video available on CD at the back of the clipbook. July 4, 2012 Ecotech: It Means Jobs | Kyle Crider “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~Margaret Mead 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.” We believe that trust has paid off. Employers including NextEra Energy Resources and M-I SWACO are interviewing our graduates and making job offers. Eight of our graduates have even been offered jobs on a wind project in Hawaii. How cool is that? We’re training the people who will be doing the real work of sustainability, installing solar panels and repairing wind turbines. There’s a new word for clean, green, hands- on jobs: Ecotech. Our students don’t just talk about sustainability—they build it. Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter delivered the commencement speech at last week’s graduation. Ritter, who currently works as the director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University, “gets it” when it comes to Ecotech jobs. In his speech, Ritter emphasized not only how Ecotech jobs grew even during the recession, but also how important they are to saving the planet from the dangers of climate change. “You will change the world,” he advised the graduates. Ritter is echoing our own beliefs with those words. But more importantly, he is echoing the students’ own beliefs. They know they are going to change the world, or they would not have come to Ecotech Institute from all across the U.S.
  52. 52. page 52 But small groups have to grow in order to change the world, and Ecotech Institute is growing. Our current population of almost 500 students represents every state except Maine, South Carolina, and Utah. We also have multiple foreign countries represented at Ecotech. In anticipation of more growth, we are nearing completion of our second Ecotech Institute. Ecotech Institute is even changing us—Education Corporation of America (ECA). Planning for the first Ecotech led to me being hired as ECA’s first Manager of Environmental Operations. I was hired to help ECA “walk the Ecotech talk,” not only here at our Corporate headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama, but at each of our 35 locations across the U.S., including Virginia College, Culinard, and Golf Academy of America campuses. So even if you can’t attend one of our Ecotech Institutes, don’t worry. Ecotech training and jobs are coming to you. But what if you’re already an established working professional, who needs to learn more about Ecotech for today’s changing business world? We’ve got you covered there, too: We’re planning to offer a one-week Ecotech certificate training course suitable for everyone from Executives on down. But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has to say about Ecotech jobs. “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.” ~Van Jones July 9, 2012 A Declaration of Independence | Kyle Crider “Independence? That’s middle-class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.” ~ George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion 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 independent 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.” As much as we like to believe we’re independent, or at least aspire to this quality, the fact is, none of us are independent. “No man is an island,” proclaims both the title and opening line of John Donne’s famous poem, which ends with, “Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.” Survivalists may lay plans for surviving various doomsday scenarios, and environmentalists may go totally “off grid,” but the simple fact is we are still interconnected with one another and with nature. For example, our fossil fuel emissions create global warming and extreme weather events, which disrupt agriculture and inflict fires, floods, and droughts, even on those living off-grid in bunkers. “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust,” Matthew 5:45 reminds us.

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