Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency (LRE) Liberal Arts Option

Greenfield Community College, 1 College Drive, Greenfield, MA

Provides students with the knowledge and skills needed for entry-level employment opportunities in the renewable energy/energy efficiency field; provides students already employed in the trades with knowledge and skills relevant to specific renewable energy/energy efficiency technologies, as well as broader understanding of the scientific, economic and political context of the industry; provides students with a general education background combined with a comprehensive introduction to renewable energy/energy efficiency and technical and general electives with course work geared toward transfer requirements for a four-year Baccalaureate program.

Program Description

The Certificate in Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency is designed to be completed in one year if a student is attending full time, (14 credits of classes per semester.) This is a good option for students who already have a college degree. It may also be a choice for those already employed in the construction sector who may not want to complete an associates degree but would like to acquire knowledge and skills in renewable energy/energy efficiency technologies, as well as a broader understanding of the scientific, economic and political context of the industry. It can help anyone explore career options in Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency. Students in the certificate program can move into the Associates Degree track at any time.

Program Attributes

•Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts – Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency Option which combines our certificate with courses that satisfy requirements for an AA in Liberal Arts
•A 28-credit Certificate in Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency which can be completed in one year when enrolled full-time
•A la carte credit and non-credit classes in green building and sustainability

Case Study Interview

1. What inspired you to spearhead the effort to integrate solar content into your courses, curriculum, or programs?

For several years, faculty at GCC had been integrating solar and related concepts into two lab science courses: Environmental Science and Sustainable Energy: Theory and Practice. Faculty had been concerned about the intertwined challenges of energy scarcity, climate change, environmental degradation, population growth, economic opportunity, and quality of life prospects for current and future generations. Students clearly cared deeply about these questions and strove to make life and career choices consistent with sustainability values. Environmental sustainability was and continues to be a challenge.

However, in November, 2006, Brian Adams and Teresa Jones attended the first national conference on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Education and Workforce Development at Hudson Valley Community College in Hudson, New York. The take-home message from the conference was transformative: The RE/EE sector was poised to explode with career opportunities that would be the building blocks of the bridge to a vibrant, low-carbon future. We saw the opportunity to open these opportunities to our students, and by doing so, we would be further expanding the RE/EE economy in our area. Here was a chance to participate in growing family-sustaining jobs that would not only let people make a living but contribute to the future. It was a win-win-win and we received full administrative support to pursue this vision.

The conference had compellingly argued that by 2015 a bottleneck in qualified solar PV installers would stall the otherwise explosive growth of the industry, so we decided to focus our first efforts on solar PV. We had already built coursework that provided students with the fundamental science, quantitative, analysis and communication skills needed to succeed in any technical field and to be a life-long learner. We developed two courses: Intro to PV and PV Installation, both 45-hour, 3-credit courses, that could be taken for credit or credit free. The curriculum was aligned with NABCEP task analyses and qualified participants to take the NABCEP PV Entry Level Exam. Like all our technical courses, it was taught by a professional and current practitioner of PV installation.

With the help of a large state workforce development grant, we were able to add 20 more courses to our repertoire over the next three years. In July, 2007, Greenfield Community College and the Franklin/Hampshire Regional Employment Board received a three-year $372,000 grant to train workers for “Sustainable Practices in Construction” and build long-term capacity for RE/EE education at the community college level. This initiative was a joint endeavor of its Division of Community Education and academic Division of Math, Science, Business and Information Technology. The WCTF (Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund) grant enabled the college to expand its sustainable energy education program and accelerate development and delivery of training. The WCTF grant provided resources for curriculum development, equipment and materials purchase, instructor costs, textbooks and resources, administrative coordination and support, outreach and services to special populations, outreach and career coaching, collaboration support, data collection and analysis. The grant endorsed a novel approach to workforce training: community college partnerships with business, technical and general high schools, and with the regional Career Center, which provided additional linkages to community organizations involved in adult basic education. The employers represented a large number of small businesses, responsive to the economic structure of Franklin / Hampshire counties.

2. What major obstacles did you encounter and how did you overcome them?

• Managing course enrollments: there was so much interest!! In the first semester (fall, 2007), we opened extra sections of courses to accommodate demand. This proved logistically nightmarish and problematic with our limited grant funding for instructors. At that point, we didn’t have the proper lab space or enough instructors to cover the number of sections we could probably fill.

• Lab space & proper technical equipment / capacity in that space. We consistently heard from students that they wanted more “hands-on” learning. We acquired much equipment under the guidance of our primary solar technology instructor, Peter Talmage, but we needed ways to work with it, and create building-related structures for student manipulation (e.g. mock walls, windows, insulation, etc.)

• Access to field-based & real world, hands-on learning opportunities for students (liability as well as logistical challenges).

• Instructor recruitment & support. We draw upon industry experts who are willing to teach for us in the evenings and weekends. This approach has created rigorous, dynamic and relevant classes, as the instructors know precisely what is going on in the field and what students will need to know, as well as the supporting math, science and other skills. One challenge is that these instructors vary in their degree of teaching experience and require significant support both to navigate the logistical landscape of community college and the learning landscape of credit courses. They are doing a great job, but it is very labor intensive for Teresa & Brian, particularly since our student population is even more diverse than the usual community college student body. We are also striving to integrate our curriculum across these 14 courses (and potentially more), be clear on prerequisites and educational pathway requirements, and be transparent with students about what their career options are. Again, this coordination requires a coordinator, usually Teresa. I think it is a strong model for approaching all adjunct teaching, but it does require time, attention and support across the board. With a growing number of instructors (and students!), it is unclear whether we will have the resources to continue doing this to the degree that best serves the program.

• The grant itself provided the resources for much of what we have been able to do. However, it comes with tremendous management, data collection and logistical obligations that consume faculty and staff time. This is a huge challenge in the face of other more programmatically important tasks (such as discussed above) that have to take a back seat because of the urgent grant demands.

• Managing interest, inquiries and participants in the program is increasingly becoming a full-time job! Happily, the Program Assistant has taken on the lion’s share of handling inquiries, but participant advising, registration and support once they enter the program falls mainly on Teresa and to a lesser degree on Brian (who advises all Environmental Studies students). With 40+ RE/EE students, this is already unmanageable. It is important for the program to be clear in what it can provide for students already in it, and those who would like to enter. We do not want people to become frustrated or disillusioned with GCC because they don’t get a call back, don’t get into classes, or can’t meet with an advisor. This is a serious challenge and needs consideration at an institutional level. Should the program be open to anyone, as most programs at GCC are? If so, we will need more advising and support capacity for students.

3. What were the keys to successfully achieving solar content integration (e.g., support of a person or persons; part of a planned curriculum improvement project; recommendations from industry or an advisory board; etc.)?

We launched our two PV courses before we could gather an advisory board, but felt confident that the information gathered from the Hudson Valley conference was applicable to our area. Then, in the winter of 2007, we facilitated a focus group of diverse stakeholders in the local RE/EE economy and workforce development/education arenas. The focus group engaged in a DACUM (Design a Curriculum) process, run by a professional from PETE (Partner for Energy and Technology Education). Only businesses and practitioners and professionals are allowed to provide input, while educators and training providers can listen and ask questions. The focus group gave the college its larger vision of where to go, and the first steps to get there. RE/EE professionals agreed that the moment of big growth was on the near horizon and that current and future employees needed significant education and training. They identified areas of initial focus, such as energy auditing and solar thermal technology, as well as clarifying skills needed across all areas of the industry, such as math, communication, computer skills, fundamental science and a passion for sustainability. This focus group was then transformed into an advisory board of partners who participated in development and implementation of the Sustainable Practices in Construction grant work. Over 40 businesses, community based organizations, high schools and government agencies participated actively in guiding our work, keeping us relevant, reviewing curriculum, providing internship sites and teaching courses. Those partnerships have continued to this day and we rely on regular communication with the people who are in the field daily to keep us relevant.

A very partial listing of some of our business partners follows:

Franklin County Tech School – Turners Falls, MA
Greening Greenfield – Greenfield, MA
Smith Voc – Northampton, MA
Franklin/Hampshire Regional Council of Governments
Coop Power – Hatfield, MA
Northeast Solar – Hatfield, MA
Beyond Green Construction – Easthampton, MA
Spirit Solar – Springfield, MA
Energia – Holyoke, MA
Community Action – Greenfield, MA
PV2 – Greenfield, MA
BuildingGreen – Brattleboro, VT
NESEA – Greenfield, MA

In the Pioneer Valley, we are also extremely fortunate to have a tremendous pool of talented, experienced professionals with expertise across the spectrum of RE/EE technologies. Formative in the early days of the program were Richard Gottlieb, often called the ‘grandfather of solar,’ and Peter Talmage, whose knowledge of energy performance in buildings is tapped by communities all over Franklin County. Both men are engineers and experienced owners of solar system installation businesses, having installed numerous systems across New England. Richard Gottlieb died in 2012 and Peter Talmage retired from teaching at GCC in 2013. Mike Kocsmiersky, an engineer and owner of Spirit Solar, now teaches the Solar PV and building science courses.

4. How long did the process take from initial concept presentation or proposal to implementation?

Implementation of the two initial courses in solar PV (Intro to PV and PV Installation) took about six months. In December, 2006, Faculty initiated the process of new course creation with input from a solar professional and NABCEP task analyses. It was approved by the Curriculum and Academic Policy committee that winter and then scheduled to run in the summer of 2007. Both courses ran as one-week long intensives and were fully enrolled. We later added a third course to the PV sequence: SCI 112 – Fundamentals of Electricity (3 cr) to support better understanding of electrical systems and safety for students who go on to pursue a career in PV installation.

5. Was this primarily a one-person effort, or did you have one or more partners who shared a significant portion of the workload?

This program would not have developed without the committed and profoundly collaborative work of the grant team, both within and outside of GCC. At GCC, these team members include: Deans Bob Barba, Peter Rosnick & Lindy Gougeon; Director of Workforce Development, Nancy Bair; statistician Jesse Barba; grantwriter Dale MacLeod; faculty members Teresa Jones, Peter Talmage, Richard Gottlieb and Brian Adams; Christine Copeland (program assistant), Dana Filbert (Nancy’s assistant). Although not a formal grant team member, Mary Ellen Fydenkevez provided tremendous support as science department chair. Key team members at the Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board were Patricia Crosby, Director, and Alex Risley-Schroeder, Green Careers Coach.

6. What products or services from your Regional Training Provider (RTP) and the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) were most useful to you in achieving solar content integration at your institution?

To teach students hands-on skills requires that training programs and educational institutions have well equipped labs with up-to-date equipment. This is far beyond the reach of our standard science department budget. We were able to ramp up quickly with funds from the WCTF grant. With funding from this grant (SITN) we have purchased new technology (e.g. AC panels), built a permanent hands-on facility at our partner technical school, and been able to keep our materials in good repair. Student enrollment is limited to 15 in the installation class to insure that all students get real world experience. They also perform work in the community as part of their training.

7. Are there other products or services that you would suggest for the RTPs and/or the SITN to offer that would be helpful in the process of implementing solar content integration?

Models of program development from different areas would be useful, as regions differ so much in their economies and culture. Additionally, institutions differ greatly and a model successful at one school may not work well in another state, depending upon many factors, from administrative support to degree of autonomy, and others. For example, I would strongly emphasize that the commitment of our college to the program in the form of a part-time program assistant has been crucial in both developing and maintain our program success. This work cannot fall to faculty only. At the same time, faculty need to be integral in regular communication with partners, curriculum development and administrative priorities. It really does take a village, which takes both money and time.

8. Would you be willing to share course proposals, curriculum improvement proposals, and/or curriculum outlines for the courses, curriculum, and programs that you used as part of the solar content integration process?

We respond to inquiries from other educational institutions on a regular basis. We have shared our curriculum with community colleges as far away as California and Hawaii! Our instructors have been very generous with their teaching materials and have consulted with counterparts around the region and country. The program coordinator has spoken at national conferences and in more local venues to share the partner-based approach that has been so successful in our program. The program assistant and coordinator offer programs at area high schools and for interested groups to help infuse curriculum and understanding of career opportunities throughout our service area.

9. If yes, would you agree to have these materials available on the IREC web site (with links from the RTP web sites)?

We should get written permission from each instructor first – but yes.

10. Would you be willing to be listed as a contact person on the IREC web site to share your solar content integration experience with other interested parties?

Christine Copeland, Program Assistant,, tel: 413 775-1472

11. Would you be willing and able to specify all occupations for which the training that you offer applies (e.g., this program trains students for these occupations/jobs)?

The economy of Franklin and Hampshire counties is characterized by small businesses and a diversity of activities. This makes for a robust and resilient local economy but is also a challenge for training providers. No one employer will send 50 employees to be trained in one thing. Similarly, no student narrowly trained in one area (e.g. PV installation) will be assured of long-term employment. Therefore, we have design our program to have multiple components and pathways. All students must take a four-credit lab science in energy fundamentals and learn building performance and energy auditing. They can then focus on an area of interest, such as solar, energy retrofits, design, policy, education and others. The list of careers they pursue is therefore quite diverse. Many transfer to a four-year institution to pursue further education necessary for the path they choose, such as engineering.

Traditional job but in new field – Some Renewable Energy Sub-heads
– Business owner                                  -solar, PV and hot water
– Manager/supervisor                            -wind
– Bookkeeper/accountant                      -energy efficiency
– Office administrator                            -biofuels
– Purchases                                         -utilities
– Sales and marketing                           -automotive
– Computer technician/web designer        -geothermal


Traditional job but with additional skills
– Carpenter/builder
– Architect/designer
– Plumber
– Electrician
– Writer
– Local agriculture

New jobs – most tasks and technology new
– Policy advocate/manager – Warren Leon from NESEA to MTC
– Green affordable housing coordinator
– Certificate Coordinator, Green Bldg. Council
o ( national non-profit established LEED Certificate: Leadership in Environmental           Energy and Design)
– Wind Turbine designer and installer
– Solar installer
– Energy auditor – for town or private business
– Biofuels chemist
– Energy efficiency installer/crew leader

12. Was specific funding appropriated for solar content integration into related course, curriculum, and/or program development?

The WCTF grant was instrumental to the rapid growth and outstanding participation in our program. At the same time, we received a $50,000 grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (now the Clean Energy Center) to work closely with partner high schools with the goal of integrating RE/EE curriculum into their classrooms. The grant funded high school teacher enrollment in RE/EE courses at GCC, paid for teacher time to meet and develop curriculum and allowed GCC to purchase key lab equipment for area high schools. Seven instructors from Franklin County Technical School (our affiliated tech school) took courses and two shops revamped their curricula to integrate RE content – electrical with solar PV and plumbing/HVAC with solar thermal. This collaborative work created a new era of cooperation with the tech school which now houses two hands-on lab facilities for GCC students (built out with SITN and other grant funding). In addition, several FCTS instructors teach hands-on courses for GCC students in their high school shops, facilities far beyond the reach of GCC’s budget and physical plant.

Our experience underscores how grant funding reaps benefits far beyond the scope and timeline of the grant and its outcomes, particularly when public-private partnerships are actively cultivated.

13. If special funding was available, would you be willing to share the amount of funding on the IREC web site?

SPC: $372,000

Mass Tech coll: $50,000

HVCC – phase I – $47,000; phase II & III – $9,000

An $800,000 federal Dept. of Labor economic stimulus Green Job Training grant awarded to the Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board, leading a partnership with other workforce boards, community colleges and green businesses in the “Northern Tier”, provided training stipends to unemployed, under-employed and incumbent workers seeking retraining from 2010 – 2012 in a region stretching from Pittsfield to Leominster across Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Worcester counties. The grant trained nearly 200 participants, of which ___ attended GCC to take courses in energy auditing, solar installation and weatherization. (Michael Baines has the stats on number of GCC participants and dollars spent –

Course Listings

Option Requirements
English Composition/Writing
ENG 101, 103, or 105 English Composition I 3
ENG 112, 114, or 116 English Composition II 3

Behavioral and Social Sciences
EVS 101 Environmental Studies: Issues in Sustainability 3
One of the following: ANT 103, ANT 104, ECO 101, ECO 102, POL 101, PSY 101, or SOC 101 3
One 3-credit course coded: ANT, ECO, EVS, HSV, POL, PSJ, PSY, or SOC 3

Humanities and Fine Arts
One 200-level course coded ENG 3
One course coded HIS 3
One 3- or 4-credit course coded: AHS, ART, ASL, DAN, ENG, FLK, FRE, GGY, HIS, HUM, LAT, MUS,PCS, PHI, SPA, or THE,
othe than a developmental course (see page 28), English Composition I and English Composition II 3-
PCS 101, 121, 131, or 141 3

Natural or Physical Science
BIO 120 Introduction to Environmental Science 4
SCI 120 Sustainable Energy: Theory and Practice 4
SCI 126 Residential Energy Efficiency and Energy Auditing 3

Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning
Any course coded MAT other than a developmental course (see page 28), MAT 105, and MAT 106 # 3-4

Additional Requirements
One 3-credit course coded: ACC, BUS, CIS, or ECO 3

Option Electives
Any 12 credits of courses from the Science Electives list on next page $ 12

General Electives
Any 4 credits of courses coded: ACC, BIO, BUS, CHE, CIS, ECO, EGR, EVS, GEO, MAT, PHY, PSJ, or SCI, other than a developmental course (see page 28) and MAT 116 # % 4
(Option Electives and Notes continued on next page)

SCI 110 Community Energy Solutions -1
SCI 112 Fundamentals of Electricity -3
SCI 114 Residential Construction Fundamentals -3
SCI 116 Introduction to Geothermal Heating and Cooling -1
SCI 118 Greenhouse Gas Assessment and Carbon Cap and Trade -1
SCI 119 Introduction to Global Warming -3
SCI 121 Introduction to Photovoltaic (Solar Electric) Technology -3
SCI 122 Solar Domestic Hot Water -1
SCI 123 Passive Solar Technology -1
SCI 124 Energy Conservation and Efficiency -1
SCI 125 Sustainable Landscape Design -3
SCI 127 Introduction to Sustainable Design and Green Building -3
SCI 128 Solar Thermal Systems -3
SCI 129 Fundamentals of Wind Energy -3
SCI 130 Extreme Insulation Retrofits -3
SCI 131 Introduction to Piping – 2
SCI 132 Introduction to Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning -2
SCI 134 Building with Earth, Straw, Wood, and Stone -3
SCI 135 Green Career Exploration -1
SCI 137 Permaculture Design -4
SCI 221 Photovoltaic (Solar Electric) Installation -3
SCI 227 Sustainable Design and Green Building Practices -3
SCI 293 or 294 Internship in Science-1-6

Course requirements and electives to be chosen after consultation with faculty advisor and in consideration of the requirements of the transfer
institution and student’s professional goals. See pages 38-40 for the specific requirements of the MassTransfer policy.
Recommended: MAT 107.

Up to three credits of internships may be taken as a SCI elective and up to six credits as any additional elective in consultation with faculty advisor. No more than six credits of internships may count toward this degree.

MAT 105 and MAT 106 grant elective credit, which may not transfer to another institution. These courses do not satisfy requirements for college level mathematics at any institution


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