Latest Entries »

Workforce Development Case Study & Template: Energy Technology

Here’s a case study from Sierra College’s Energy Technology Program, it’s both a case study and a template for building workforce development programs.  I apologize for the clunky way the footnotes appear.  The piece includes lessons learned, best practices and just lots of good information.  It’s a long piece, if you want an electronic copy feel free to e-mail directly at ~ Michael Kane


Case Study for the Sierra College – Energy Technology Program


This document is meant to serve as a both a case study of the Sierra College Energy Technology Program creation as well as a guide for developing and implementing an Energy Technology or similar workforce Program. The document will primarily focus on the path and procedures to success within the framework of a community college, with emphasis on the California Community College system. That is where my experience is most in-depth and while other states and systems will be different, an attempt is made to make the document as general as possible so that it will have broad applicability.


Program Inception


The development of the Sierra College Program can be traced back to a single event, and that would be the returning of a phone call to Julia Burrows, then the Deputy City Manager and Economic Development Director for the city of Roseville California. The city of Roseville as well as the Sacramento Region were actively working with and recruiting renewable energy companies into the area and were interested in working with local educational institutions to develop training opportunities for the industry. Julia Burrows on behalf of the City of Roseville helped drive the development of a project team that was composed of the city, the North State Builders Association and Sierra College. That group put together a grant proposal for the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, Industry Driven Regional Collaborative (IDRC) grant. We were unsuccessful in our first attempt but successful the second time around and were awarded $468,000 to create the program. Almost immediately thereafter we entered the Great Recession and the state pulled back 25% of the funds of the grant due to the budget crisis. We were fortunate to subsidize some of the losses through SB70 workforce initiative grants that the college had already received.

If there is a theme or lesson on success related to this grant and program it is partnerships. The partnership described above procured the funding for the program. The grant itself, the IDRC, had a requirement as part of the application process that you have committed industry partners willing to provide tangible matching contributions for the funding. These contributions included expert time, advisory board membership, meeting participation, equipment and facilities. One significant match that resulted from this collaboration was a rent-free facility near one of our campus sites that allowed us to offer classes in that area a year earlier than would have otherwise been possible. The facility was made available through our connection with the Nevada County Economic Resource Council. Additional partnerships will be discussed in relation to the curriculum development and hands-on student activities.


There is no reason to start a workforce development program if there is no workforce need. The goal of the program was to provide highly trained and competent workers for an industry, if that industry isn’t hiring there isn’t much point to the program. The Sacramento Region and in particular the City of Roseville were heavily recruiting green energy firms when we initiated the program. Mayor Kevin Johnson footnote 1 in Sacramento was espousing an idea he called the Emerald Valley, a reference to bringing green industry to the area. The region was seeing success on this front and in September of 2007 at a Clean Energy Roundtable hosted by the City of Roseville five local solar companies expressed the following concern:

“There is a dearth of solar-industry workers with any experience. All training must be done by the employer at a cost of thousands of dollars to our companies. There is a need for workers with basic knowledge of solar energy, solar thermal and basic construction and safety knowledge.”

The CEOs in this discussion indicated that the training issue was among the top three issues limiting the further growth of their companies. In December of that same year our Sierra College Solar Training Advisory committee came together for the first time and echoed the comments above. So we had solid evidence that locally, companies needed trained workers and needed them immediately.

Research conducted by the Centers of Excellence (2008) footnote 2 reported that there were 60+ solar firms in the Sacramento Region not related to manufacturing. Through their survey they indicated that firms expected to hire approximately 250 jobs in the next year. It was this type of information that verified for us that there was a solid industry need for the program. The next question we had to answer was what was the level of student interest in this type of training program?

After some initial marketing and outreach we fairly quickly had several hundred interest cards in our hands. Reviewing the inquiries we’d had it became apparent that there was certainly interest in the program, but also a significant lack of knowledge in what comprised a solar installation training program. So in our first revision of our work plan we did a number of things, we added an FAQ (footnote 3) section to the Sierra College Website, and set up a series of public orientation sessions. The orientation sessions had a broad focus of informing the public about what the program would be like. There was a very specific focus on the fact that the program was workforce development training for a hands-on construction and electrical related profession. Basically letting folks know that if they weren’t comfortable with power tools, ladders, roofs and electricity this probably wasn’t the program they wanted.

Although the orientation sessions certainly reduced the number of potential students we still believed we had significant interest in the program. This believe would be verified when registration opened for the class. The classes were put into the schedule late, priority registration had passed and this meant any enrolled student at Sierra College could register for the class. The classes went live at 7AM, by 7:07AM, we had filled the 90 seats for our entry level class. So all this lead to the conclusion that we had both solid industry need and student interest; our first and most necessary hurdle was cleared.

Curriculum Development and Delivery

Many times when a college begins a new academic program it’s not truly a new program but the modification of an existing program. The reason for this is that when you start a program from scratch there often isn’t any expertise on campus to drive the curricular process or provide internal political support at the academic senate level. So typically you see transitions like electronics to mechatronics or solar and in many cases you have a construction department that has expertise and capitalizes on the natural connections between construction, energy efficiency and solar.

In our case we were starting for scratch which created its own set of challenges although it also opens up a wide variety of possibilities by not having program development limited to a single faculty member’s area and level of expertise. Additionally sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good or maybe fortune goes to the prepared, either way being lucky is helpful. Our greatest piece of luck was meeting Brian Hurd and a workforce development meeting sponsored by Advanced Transportation Technology & Energy initiative ( ATTEi) in Los Angeles. Brian was presenting on the basics of developing a solar program and the timing coincided quite nicely with our needs. Coincidentally, Brian was only a few months out from moving to our area.

Brian turned out to be invaluable in a number of ways, but was really key to our success in two fundamental ways. Brian understood the necessity for our course curricula to be strictly connected to the objectives for the NABCEP Entry Level Exam. He also was able to bring his technical and teaching expertise to the process of developing our curricula, in addition to helping us understand what materials were critical to have in order to set up our labs.

We developed our course curricula to match the NABCEP Entry Level Learning Objectives. (footnote 4) In addition to using the NABCEP objectives as a guiding principle we also used the results of an ATTEI DACUM process for solar installation that they completed in November 2007 (Appendix A). Using our program’s Industry Advisory Board, we also undertook a similar process to assess core skills for different job titles related to the solar industry (Appendix B). The crosswalk that we developed between solar related job titles and job related skills was illuminating. The crosswalk allowed us to focus on the core skill sets for our installer program and gave us great information related to overlap as we consider expanding the program.

However, the most valuable part of this exercise by far was the dual directional education that went on during these meetings. The process gave us a deeper understanding of what industry wanted and how they worked, and gave them a much better understanding of the advantages and limitations of an education program. Very often industry partners wanted a particular software system or skill taught in the program. However that particular program or skill were not used industry wide but only by a sub-set or sometimes even by only one company as the software was proprietary to a particular company. Through the crosswalk development process we were able to help our partners understand why we had to design our training to focus on industry-wide applicable core skills. Their companies would still need to do any specialized skill training that was particular to their company or a small sub-set of the industry. This process and discussion was really illuminating for everyone involved. It also branched into getting the local industry representatives to understand that our training program has to be sustainable over time with a consistent student population level. The academic credit arm of community colleges is not nimble and we can’t only operate a program when there is need, then shut it down and start it up again quickly when the need arises again. This is where contract education becomes important but since we have not developed any contract education training with our program I’ll leave that to other sources.

The second area where Brian was incredibly valuable was that he was able to take on a mentorship role for the technical faculty we hired to teach the classes. The majority of these instructors had never taught before and those who had were never formerly trained as instructors. Our first step was to send these instructors to an instructor training class for solar energy.

Once the courses were staffed and the instructors had been through initial training, we set up a bi-weekly mentoring schedule for the faculty. Brian Hurd and I served as the mentors to the faculty. Brian provided technical expertise and teaching experience in the field, I provided both teaching experience as well as specific information related to the role of an instructor at the college. I believe that this process greatly improved the level of instruction students would have otherwise received, as well as allowing us the opportunity to identify and correct issues early on. These meetings also provided a feedback mechanism for what was, and was not working in the classroom and a pathway to how the students felt about the program.

One final benefit of this process is that we did identify some issues with a particular instructor that were serious in nature. This eventually led to us letting this instructor go, however the constant feedback also allowed us to find out about the issues during the semester so that we were able to take steps to ensure the students got an appropriate experience and that the learning objectives of the course were met.

We were very specific in developing the content and even timing of the course offerings. In the initial stages of program development we visited Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY. They have what may be the premier solar installation program in the country. Upon visiting we really liked the way they set the program up. Students have to complete their electrician training program with a set grade point average in order to apply to the solar installation program. We don’t have an electrical training program so that was not an option, but we felt that the optimal way to run the program would have been to establish two pre-requisites for the program, a course in electrical and also a course in construction basics. Within those courses students would have gotten basic tool and safety training in addition to electrical and construction basics. Unfortunately our construction program didn’t have the specific type of courses we needed nor the capacity or desire to institute them. For this reason we split the basic NABCEP Entry Level training into a two course sequence to allow for the inclusion of safety, tool usage, electrical and constructions basics. Later as the program developed we have also integrated OSHA 10 hour safety training into the program so that students can earn their OSHA 10 hour safety certification card.

We offer the solar training courses starting at 4:30PM and run them as 4 unit lecture/lab courses. This allows for 6 hours of instruction (3 lecture/3 lab) each week, a total of 108 hours of instruction per semester. The choice of 4:30PM was a conscious decision related to the two pools of students we expected to have in the program. The first population being working people who may have other jobs while re-training for a new career. We have had a large number of students who were training for a new career or to enhance their current skills come through the program including painters, carpet layers, construction laborers and contractors.

The second population we considered was our typical 18-25 year old student population. The choice of the time allowed the working folks to come after work and for the younger full-time students to take these classes at a time that doesn’t typically conflict with the most popular times for general education course offerings. Given this is a solar program we also needed to make sure the timing left us with enough sunlight to do lab exercises. The 4:30 schedule allows for some good light in the earlier parts of the fall semester and later weeks in the spring semester. As such, we offer our initial class in the fall and intermediate class in the spring. We also use 1 Saturday for the beginning class and 3 Saturday work days for the intermediate class. This allows for larger lab project work, in particular it allows the intermediate class to do a small ground array set up and take down in one day.

In addition to the beginning and intermediate courses we also offer an advanced solar course. The first two courses focus on the residential, grid-tie systems and the basics of the NABCEP Entry Level Exam. The advanced course looks at off-grid systems as well with a focus on system design and commercial systems. The format for the advanced course is a bit different, it is still a 4 unit lecture/lab course, however the lab work is done in 8 Saturdays. For the lab portion of the course the class operates as a project team responsible for the design and installation of a commercial solar array. Each semester the students have been typically installing an eight thousand watt, three-phase commercial system on campus. This gives these students excellent additional hands on experience and one full array install under their belt prior to leaving the program.

For all three courses there is a hands on experience focus in the lab portion of the course that builds through working with individual panels, to a small grid-tie ground array installation and finally to a permanent commercial array installation. Not surprisingly this has been the aspect of the course that the students have reacted to most positively. As of Fall 2015 we will be moving the advanced course installation off campus to work with Energy 2001, which is a company that generates electricity by burning recaptured methane at the local landfill.

This new partnership will provide the program with additional financial support as well as expose the students to more of a utility scale power generation operation as well as other forms of energy production.


Internal Political Process

Every institution has their own special issues in this regard. For our program it arose in the form of a lack of internal support from the non-workforce related faculty on our campus. Our Career Technical Education committee and the faculty from those programs were incredibly supportive. I would like to point out that we did, in my opinion, everything we could have done to avoid these issues. We started by going to the academic senate to present to them the idea for the grant submission and get their support, which we received. The grant itself was circulated through all of our normal vetting and approval processes. There were no issues, questions or problems brought to us at any point in the grant process, or the initial stages of developing the program. We initially brought the program to our Construction Department as an add-on, and although they were involved in all of the scoping and initial project meetings they declined to have the program in their department. So we took the program to a new program that had been created the year before and housed the Energy Technology Program in the Environmental Studies & Sustainability (ESS) Department.

Our first inkling of any underlying issues arose when the ESS Department went through its first Program Review cycle that year. In the review process we were “unofficially” told that the program was in the wrong department it should be in construction or a stand-alone program. Not noting of course that the program had no full-time faculty or instructional assistant support. Another concern came to light shortly thereafter in Academic Senate discussions that other programs were concerned initiating a new program was stealing resources from other programs. Not noting that in fact at that time the program was fully grant funded. This argument would continue to pop up for years even though the district general fund was only supporting the program to the tune of a $250 annual supply budget.

The really huge hurdle our program faced was getting staffing resources in the form of a full-time faculty member and instructional assistant. The process for determining faculty hires on our campus has a two part ranking system with both the Deans Council and Academic Senates doing separate rankings and then coming together for a joint final ranking that is advanced to the president for final decision. Consistently for three years the Deans Council would highly rank the position and the Academic Senate would rank the position as one of the lowest ranked positions. Therefore the joint ranking was always far below the level needed for a hire.

The reasoning on the part of the Academic Senate for the low ranking came back to the same tired issues from the first program review discussions. The program should be in another department, the program is not expanding (chicken and egg problem here), and my favorite, it didn’t get a good ranking in program review. Of course many of the same people in this discussion assigned the program review ranking. What the hiring process revealed was that although there was support at the mid-management level (deans) there was not enough support within the Academic Senate or at the executive level to make the program successful in the hiring prioritization process.

A lot of programs hit a hurdle like this one getting caught up in internal campus politics. This is where change agent/management skills come in to play and are vitally important. As an appendix to this piece (Appendix C) we’re including an article on change management to go into more depth on what these skills are and how they can be effectively used. One of the most important core concepts for making successful change is knowing your institution. In this particular case it did not seem there was a way to get passed this situation by educating the folks involved, their opposition was either for personal or philosophical reasons. So we needed a new path and an opportunity did present itself in the form of our Construction Department. As you may remember, we initially had hoped to put the program in that department but the faculty balked at the idea. The construction program had been in a severe enrollment decline related both the program format and the impact the Great Recession had on the construction industry. Two changes were on the horizon for us, first, the faculty who had balked were now retired and in fact the program had no full-time faculty. Second, the construction industry was rebounding and there was an obvious need for improving the program.

The dean supervising the construction program and I decided to propose to merge the two programs and chase a full-time hire to oversee the merged programs. We also put on the table that without a full-time hire, both programs would need to be discontinued. It seems the combination of the merge and the threat were enough to bring both the Academic Senate and Executive Team around to our point of view and I’m happy to say for the Fall 2014 semester we have hired a full-time instructor for our new Construction & Energy Technology Department. Building allies is another core concept in change management and without this partnership between two division deans both programs would likely have been discontinued.


Ongoing Funding & Partnerships

If I was asked for one word that sums up the success of our program it would have to be partnerships. This was a mantra from the very beginning of the program development process. The initial program idea and grant writing team was a partnership between Sierra College, the City of Roseville, and the North State Builders Industry Association. Our initial source of funding was an Industry Driven Regional Collaborative (IDRC) grant that required us to bring in industry partners at the grant writing stage. These partners were how the match for the grant was made, they helped us through giving of expertise, time, materials up to and including a facility that we used for the first year for our Nevada County sections. The partnership support extended in similar ways through our advisory board once the program was initiated. As mentioned earlier, the industry advisers were key in identifying what the necessary core skills were for our students to be successful in getting jobs in the industry. Our industry partners have continued to support us in a number of ways from tours, to guest speakers, equipment and even hiring many of our graduates.

When twenty-five percent of our grant funding was pulled back it was our partnership with our grants office that allowed us to access some SB70 grant funds to supplement some of our lost resources. Throughout the life of the program our partnership with our Career Technical Education committee has allowed us to access Perkins’ grant funds to pay for much of the equipment needed for our advanced student projects.

The area where are partnerships have been extremely beneficial has been around our advanced student projects. For our first project the IDRC grant funded all of the materials for the project; however those funds were fully expended shortly after that project was completed. Recognizing the funding issues we would inevitably hit, we developed a partnership with our maintenance and operations division around the student projects. The agreement was that maintenance and operations would provide infrastructure support as well as working with us on the grid connection. The students would do the full installation of the system. In addition, because the college would be benefiting from the project, the maintenance and operations division agreed to partially support the project through our campus sustainability fund. This fund consists of money the college receives back from any energy efficiency or renewable energy rebates we receive.

Our first three student project installations were done under this funding and operational model with support from our CTE and maintenance and operations funds. However it was our fourth installation where the true collaborative nature of campus partnerships really came together. In our third year we were approached by our student government who wanted to fund the installation of an array to offset the energy used by the pond fountain and waterfall features they had previously paid to have installed near the student center. The project was designed to be at roughly the same eight thousand watt level but needed some significant infrastructure work. In order to complete the infrastructure work we turned to our welding department and luckily were able to have the welding students complete the steel structure we needed to mount the panels. This project was a partnership of student government, welding and energy technology students with financial support from the student government, CTE and maintenance and operations. This project was truly the definition of a collaborative project which benefitted student education and training as well as the college. Our next campus project for the Fall 2014 Semester will be a second leg to this project and will again involve both the welding and energy technology students.

For the Fall 2015 Semester we will be partnering with a private company, Energy 2001, to do a project at their site. As mentioned previously this project is really exciting as it will significantly expand what our students will be exposed to in the energy field. Additionally, it is exciting to both be involved in a public/private partnership that will allow a higher level of visibility of student work within the community.

Significantly, since Energy 2001 will be funding the installations we will have a guaranteed three year funding stream for our projects. This will alleviate our having to do a series of annual requests to get our projects funded.



This section alone could probably be its own report; of course that’s how it is with any new program. Since I’ve covered most of these earlier in the report I will be brief. Our first challenge was managing community expectations; we did this by putting out an information campaign with our most effective work coming from the information on the college website and the public program orientation sessions that we ran. This really leads to an overall challenge and necessity when starting any program and that is the need for clear communication. It was imperative to keep people both on campus and external to the program in the loop. We did a number of things to accomplish this, we went to campus governing bodies and did presentations, and we had regular advisory board meetings and could have done a better job of also providing them with regular updates between meetings. Our internal team met regularly with the faculty teaching the classes and the mentoring group met regularly with the faculty as well.

As the program progressed we did a lot of internal and external marketing. We utilized the college’s public relations and marketing folks for much of the external marketing and internally we used a periodic newsletter. Unfortunately we never got to a regular cycle with the newsletter and that is something we could have done better. Finally, we made a point of doing announcements and report outs in appropriate campus meetings and committees including Deans Council, Management Team Meeting, and at our Career Technical Education Committee monthly meetings. Another thing that would have been smart was to send that same internal newsletter to our industry advisory board members.

The most precious resource on most college campuses is facility space. This was a huge issue for us originally. At our Grass Valley Campus Center we were in good shape, we had a donated facility for a year and were in line to receive a new classroom facility at the campus center. It was a different story on the main campus as there was no space available. Initially we had hoped for a donation of a building from some of our construction industry partners but that fell through. Our second hope was a space in the City of Roseville’s corporation yard. The City of Roseville space may have worked but was far from an ideal space. Finally, we located space at our Roseville Gateway Center which is only six miles from the main campus. We were able to actually secure two adjoining, dedicated classroom spaces and knock a hole in the wall to create a suitable lecture/lab space. This involved significant assistance and negotiation with both our Facilities and Liberal Arts Divisions. As the program moves forward and merges with our construction program we’ve been able to find space in the construction area for the energy technology program.

Appropriate equipment is of course an absolute necessity to any workforce development program. Additionally whenever possible, the equipment needs to mirror what is being used in industry so that students have experience with the same equipment they’ll be using on the job site. This was in fact one of the easier challenges to overcome for us. First, the program was grant funded and we’d done a decent job of anticipating equipment costs. Secondly our consultant, Brian Hurd, was able to advise us as to what to buy and was even helpful by providing education friendly vendor contacts; again, we were incredibly lucky to have landed him as a consultant.

Staffing was a significant challenge for a number of reasons. It was hard to find folks in a busy industry that had the time, teaching talent, or inclination to become instructors. The way we were able to come up with successful candidates was primarily through industry networking. We also put out newspaper and Craigslist advertisements but the majority of candidates came to us from word of mouth recommendations by our industry contacts. We did a very thorough interview process which included a knowledge exam created by our consultant, verbal interview questions and a teaching demonstration. This process was highly illuminating; we had a wide range of scores on the knowledge exam, and some really terrible teaching demonstrations. Most of the teaching demonstrations were somewhat lacking which led to the next challenge, ensuring quality teaching.

To ensure quality teaching, we developed initially a weekly and later a bi-weekly mentoring program for the new faculty. The sessions were led by a dean and our consultant. Instructors were first sent to an 8 hour solar instructor training course. Then as the semester approached we started the mentoring sessions. The sessions worked on developing lesson plans, assisting and providing curricular materials, discussions of teaching tips and strategies, as well as long discussions of the administrative duties required of faculty each semester and campus rules. All of the instructors had solid technical knowledge but needed guidance with issues of classroom management, education system rules, planning and how to properly assess learning. We believe the mentoring process is a major reason for the success we’ve had with the program.

Our campus internal politics were a huge challenge for us and I wrote about it in great detail earlier in the report. The responses to all of the challenges discussed in this report have a bearing on your internal politics. As previously noted a paper on change agent skills is also included with this document. The single most important factor is that you must know and understand the machinations of your internal campus politics. This includes understanding who and what are obstacles to your success, the type of obstacles that exist and how to navigate them in order to move forward. Finally it is important to form partnership (creating allies) that can assist you and/or apply pressure to the obstacles in your path.

One challenge that was truly unexpected for us was the loss of Placer County’s residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program called M-Power. The loss of these programs due to changes in federal guidelines regarding financing put a serious crimp into the residential solar market, followed quickly by the Great Recession many local hiring estimates were reassessed lower. There was still a thriving market and workforce need but the job market would certainly be tighter for our students as a result of this change. The change also meant that with fewer jobs available our original pipeline needed to be reduced in size. Initially we were teaching three sections of our entry-level solar installation class (ESS 30). This meant our initial starting population was between 60 and 72 students, we then followed with two sections of intermediate (ESS 32) with 40 – 48 students total, and finally our advanced class (ESS 34) with 20 -24 students. Given the issues with losing the PACE program and the Great Recession we reduced this to 2 sections of ESS 30n (48 max), and 1 each for ESS 32 (24 max) and 34 (16 max).

This addressed another challenge which was successfully directing a 20 -24 person work crew in the advanced class when they were on-site for projects. We saw some natural attrition into ESS 34 from reducing the size of the pipeline, however we consciously decided to reduce the class size a max of 16 students and typically have 12 -16 students in the class. This change has made for a better and safer project site experience for the students.

Once the program got started we were disconcerted to find out that the students were not getting jobs. This didn’t make sense as we knew local industry folks were hiring, in talking to students what we discovered was that the students were deficient in job hunting skills. In response we developed a one class session on career skills that included resume development, job searching skills and tips. The unit over time has been further fleshed out and depending on the structure also includes some material on career exploration.

Sometimes success brings on its own challenges, we ran into a situation where students were “jobbing out” prior to completing the intermediate course and sitting for the NABCEP Entry-Level Exam. This issue was further exacerbated by a company that was telling students once hired that it was in their best interest to quit and just work for the company. Of course the reality was that this was in the best interest of the company. Non-NABCEP certified installers could be paid less and without the certification were less likely to get promoted or be able to move on to other jobs. Happily, after explaining this to the company the issue has resolved itself. This issue brings up an important point; it needs to be a focus of the program, and made clear to students from day one, that they are training for a career, not just to get a job.



The program has been a success so far but is also very much a work in progress. The elements of the original vision that are in place, the solar installation classes have been highly successful. They have done exactly what we needed them to do which is to be high caliber, quality, and in-depth training for solar installers that leads them to a career in renewable energy. The program has earned a great deal of respect in the local industry and won both local and regional awards. Even more importantly there has been great student success as a result of the program. We have students working in large international solar companies in prominent positions, students have moved up into leadership positions in local companies and at least two solar related businesses have been created by former students. The feedback we receive from students out in the workforce has been nothing but positive about their experience in the program.

The continued existence of the program in itself is a success. The program started right at the beginning of the Great Recession, the largest economic downturn in 70 years. Our grant was immediately cut and no because of the budget crisis was an easy answer to any resource requests. Our program has existed for over five years on an annual supply budget of $250 per year, with no full-time faculty or instructional assistant working with the program. For the program to be not just operating but thriving under those conditions is a credit to all of those around the program and those who supported it.

One of the things we are most proud of in the program is our student’s success rate on the NABCEP Entry-level Exam. Overall our pass rate is 89%, with a 100% pass rate for women who have taken the exam. Given the national average pass rate of somewhere between 50 and 60%, we likely have one of, if not the highest, pass rate in the nation. This success is due to several factors, first, 216 hours of both hands-on and book work prior to taking the exam; utilizing the NABCEP learning objectives as a foundation for our curriculum; and testing students from the beginning of the first semester with exams that reflect what students will see on the actual NABCEP exam. The NABCEP Entry-level certification is a credential that less than 20% of all solar installers hold and as such provides a level of confidence for employers hiring our students.

Relatively early in the program we developed a partnership with our facilities division to do campus projects for our advanced solar class. This partnership has been wonderful; it has helped the program financially and allowed students and staff to develop a sense of pride over their work contributions to campus. Additionally this partnership has generated positive press for the college while also contributing to lowering our GHG emissions impacts and saving us money. This contribution has not been insignificant, to date; the college’s general fund has contributed about $20,000 towards systems while gaining installed systems valued at approximately $200,000.

The array installation project model has been very successful as well; it has provided students with commercial level, 3-phase installation practice. In addition to the actual installation work the students also get to experience a project from design through to installation. They also gain experience by being exposed to all of the difficulties that occur in project management including material delivery delays, scheduling problems and large doses of bureaucracy.

We have had some highly successful industry partnerships connected with our program. Although we could have done a better job soliciting equipment donations we did receive support in many ways. Initially we had a facility donated to us rent free that we were able to use for two years. Where industry really has stepped up has been in helping with the actual classes. We have had a large number of folks who have been guest presenters, offered expertise on projects, done facility tours and have offered employment opportunities to our students.

The program has received some recognition locally and regionally for the work it has done. The program was awarded the Placer County Economic Development Board’s Public Sector Award in 2009. In 2010 the program along with the department it was housed in, Environmental Studies & Sustainability, was awarded the Sierra Business Council’s Vision Award.

Something that is currently working out and definitely can be considered a success is our upcoming partnership with Energy 2001. This will be a public/private partnership where our advanced class will do commercial level installations at the Energy 2001 site. Energy 2001 is a methane recovery power generating facility and they will be fully funding the student projects as well as offering several internships to students in the program. We are currently in the process of finalizing a three-year Memorandum of Understanding that will fully fund our advanced class projects for that period of time. This partnership will expose our students to a broader range of energy technology and significantly raise the profile of the program in our local community.


We have recently been informed that our AS in Energy Technology has been approved through the California Community College Chancellor’s Office. This now means that students have the opportunity to earn 3 certificates and/or an AS Degree in our program.

Finally the most important success we have had is to merge the program with our construction department so that we were able to gain both a full-time instructor and full-time instructional assistant support for the program. The newly merged Construction & Energy Technology Program will also facilitate the move of the program’s classroom to our main campus and the eventual expansion into energy efficiency, solar sales and solar thermal.


Philosophy and Guiding Principles

When we started the process of developing the Energy Technology Program at Sierra College in 2008 we took a very specific philosophic approach to program creation. Many people in and around the program wanted us to immediately jump into what I call the three primary legs of an energy program, solar electric, energy efficiency and solar thermal. To be quite frank I pushed for a much more conservative approach and we focused solely on solar electric in the form of photovoltaic installation training. The reason we chose this path was so that the program would have a solid foundation that would allow it to withstand the ups and downs that occur in any endeavor.

With the economy entering the Great Recession I was concerned about the viability of a new program in a time of dwindling resources. My primary concerns centered on the experience of the renewable energy sector in the late 70’s and early 80’s. The late 70’s saw an expansion in renewable energy driven by events such as the Arab oil embargo. When prices are rising and people have to gas their cars every other day, they suddenly want options other than fossil fuels for energy.

Additionally, the environmental movement was growing in strength and so renewable energy benefited from both of these realities.
Unfortunately for renewables, 1980 brought a significant change in America, lowering interest rates, the end of the oil embargo, the election of Ronald Reagan and increased optimism for the economy meant that attitudes in the United States were shifting. In fact the solar thermal panels President Carter had installed on the White House grounds were immediately removed by Ronald Reagan. The comment I often make in talking about this change is that in 1980 everyone decided to cut their hair, go to Wall Street and try and get rich. With this change the renewable energy industry lagged, only remaining active in certain small spots in the United States, places like Nevada County in California.

Fast forward to 2008 and we were once again in an era where oil and gas prices were skyrocketing, and environmental awareness, thanks in part to Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth, was on the rise. It was in this environment of rising enthusiasm, high gas prices and predictions that we finally hit peak oil that we started our program. In that environment people thought that the rise of renewable energy sector and therefore renewable energy was an unstoppable wave. However, given the experiences of the 1970’s and not wanting to be people who failed to remember history, (peak oil predictions have been made many times in history), we decided to create a deep foundation in one leg, solar electric, rather than creating shallow foundations across all three.

What is important to remember however, is that a single leg of energy program as a permanent stand-alone feature is a mistake and was never our plan. Our plan was to solidly establish the first leg, while actively building toward adding energy efficiency next and finally solar thermal training. The overall goal of the program was to train students to not just be technicians, but well-rounded renewable energy professionals with both theoretical knowledge and hands on skills. We believe this mirrors the trend in the energy sector where firms that only did solar initially have come to realize that providing energy audit and retrofit services in conjunction with the capability of solar installation is a much wiser business model that provides customers with better and more satisfying experience. It is also the model that the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs were taking before changes in federal financing derailed the ability for municipalities to effectively implement residential PACE programs.


Lessons Learned

One of the earlier lessons we learned was that you can’t forget to focus on non-technical employability skills. We were surprised to learn how little our students actually knew about the process of locating and obtaining a job. Especially shocking given that our students were older than the typical 18 -25 year old student population.

It was something we believed when we started out, but was later verified by the NABCEP exam success, that the curriculum really needs to be closely aligned to industry related objectives. In education terminology, student learning outcomes need to mirror industry core skill sets for employment. Because these skill sets are not often defined the next best thing is to match the learning outcomes to industry certification standard outcomes, if the industry has a recognized cortication. In the case of the solar industry NABCEP is certainly that.

When we went through our job skill crosswalk exercise with our industry advisory board we learned that industry often has widely different expectations for training outcomes for education programs. Many companies wanted us to train students in techniques, tools, software etc… that were limited and sometime proprietary to their company. The crosswalk process turned out to not only be important to setting the program curriculum but also to educating industry as to what was possible in a training program. Getting industry to understand that we need to focus the program on a set of core skills that were widely applicable between companies became key. Industry representatives then can have clear expectations about what skills students will have when completing the program, while understanding what type of on the job training they will need to offer.

We saw the need for extensive safety training from the outset of the program. However, it became apparent after a couple of years that there would be a significant benefit to students if we formalized the training in such a way as to meet the OSHA 10 hour safety training requirement. This of course meant sending instructors to training so they could certify the training but we believe has been well worth the expense.

The need and benefit of partnerships cannot be stressed enough. All of the program success can be linked back in some fashion to the extensive partnerships that we have and continue to establish for the program.


Best Practices

Any program should focus on training professionals for a career not just technicians, the purpose of education is to improve student’s lives and help them create a pathway to long-term success. Without that focus we run the risk of designing programs that leave students in a dead end that is only slightly better than their current circumstance.

Programs that create stackable certificates with multiple points of entry and exit create the most options for students and help programs maintain stable enrollments. We are just getting to this point in our program. Initially with a single focus on solar installation this wouldn’t have made sense. However in the new Construction and Energy Technology program we have built a set of certificates that meet this criteria (Appendix D).

We need to have a somewhat business and entrepreneurial spirit when we develop programs as opposed to our typical educational mindset. We need to become comfortable with asking partners for help. The funny thing is when you ask, the answer is very often yes.

To help ensure long-term programmatic success we recommend when starting a program that you stay with a narrow focus but provide a lot of depth. It was this characteristic of our program that enabled us to sustain our program through the Great Recession, when other programs didn’t survive.

In any workforce development program it probably goes without saying, but the heavier the industry participation at the point of development the better. The key here is the timing, bringing in industry early in the process helps you craft a program that truly meets industry needs. It also allows you to appropriately set industry expectations as to what you can deliver in terms of training and create an open dialogue with your industry partners.

Particular at the community college level, it is imperative that you fully engage your Career Technical Education (CTE) structure at the college. This structure takes differing forms from a single all powerful chair or grant administrator to highly organized campus-wide committees. Regardless of the structure you have to be fully engaged as Perkins Federal Grant Fund money is a wonderful source of resources. Additionally, that structure will be your information access point to other training and resource opportunities.

At most colleges someone wears the hat of college grant administrator, make friends with this person. This may be an actual position, however it may also be an unofficial designation, one of the dreaded other duties as assigned. Regardless of the title, someone is the person who coordinates and often writes the majority of grants at the college. Beyond the obvious benefit of assisting your own grant writing efforts, this person also is aware of other grants on campus that may be of assistance to your program. It was exactly this scenario that saved us when the state pulled back 25% of our grant funding due to the state budget crisis. Knowing the grants person and having their support got us connected to another source of funding that helped us procure additional funding to make up a considerable piece of the deficit.

Make friends with your facility folks regardless of whether you’re starting a program or not. Facility folks are some of the most underutilized resources on campus. Particularly given that facility space is the rarest commodity on most campuses, having a line to the people who manage those resources is crucial. Additionally, many times their staff doesn’t feel connected to the educational side of the house and will often jump at the opportunity to help your program if they can feel that connection. Our partnership with our facilities folks has yielded a wide range of benefits and resources as well as a source of knowledge and expertise.

Remember to market your program’s success both internally and externally. I have often found that people do a good job at external marketing but forget to let the rest of campus know about the great things they are doing. Internal marketing helps raise awareness, create a positive impression of the program and help you gain support in your internal political battles. The real secret is that often, if you do a really good job marketing internally, it will reduce the number of internal political issues that you will face.

Your marketing efforts lead into another best practice which is to get recognized. Chasing awards and recognition seems a little antithetical to what we normally do. However, the simple fact is that people often look no further into something than a tag line level. So once you can honestly state you have an award winning program, many people will automatically assume you have a high quality program whether they know anything about the program or not. Think about it this way, you can take a cruise with an award winning cruise line or another one. Our natural inclination is to go with the award winning cruise line. It’s important for long-term success that the awards and recognition validate quality work you’re doing, but getting that recognition is another form of marketing that can help ensure program sustainability. This is particularly true if the college president gets to have his/her picture taken while accepting the award.

Utilizing change agent/management skills is critical to success. It is often the application of these skills that determines how smoothly you navigate the often treacherous waters of politics and bureaucracy at your institution or in your system. If you never have, do some reading or get some training to help you develop your change agent/management skills.

Get professional help! There will be times in the project development and management process where you will become convinced that what I meant by this was that you should get personal mental health counseling for even attempting this process. Although I know that feeling well, this is not what I mean. When developing a new program you need a technical expert who has been down this road before and preferably with a similar type of program. Having a faculty member with some experience in the area is great, but often doesn’t provide the broader perspective needed for the program to realize its full potential.

Utilize industry certifications wherever possible so that industry has a clear understanding of the skills and experience your students possess when they enter the workforce. Unfortunately, this is often difficult as we are often creating programs in emerging fields and those fields may not have come to consensus regarding a single industry wide recognized certification. In those cases it’s important not to necessarily affiliate with a single certification organization but to evaluate the core skills and competencies required across the leading certifications. Then, along with your industry advisors target your program to that core set of skills and competencies. Train career professionals, not just technicians.

Providing instructional training and mentorship for technical faculty coming from industry is very beneficial. Faculty you hire from the technical field have technical knowledge, however they very often have little or no teaching experience and less training. While technical expertise is essential, teaching skills are equally important as we are not asking faculty to just demonstrate their expertise but teach others how to do it.

Get lucky! Probably not a best practice per se as luck is hard to manufacture. However, you need to be well prepared and organized so that you can capitalize on good fortune and opportunities should they present themselves.


Next Steps

Our program is moving into a new phase as it merges into the Construction and Energy Technology Program. The former construction program overlaps with energy technology in respect to energy efficiency. The two new energy efficiency courses we are developing utilize skills, knowledge and training from both disciplines and will serve as a centerpiece of the new program. Additionally we will work more to infuse energy concepts into the construction courses and beef up the construction skills developed in the energy courses.

We had planned all along to expand our energy offerings to include a solar sales course as well as eventually adding solar thermal training to the program. To have a fully developed renewable energy program you need to have all three core legs within the program, solar electric, solar thermal and energy efficiency.

Our long-term dream that we have kicked around for some time and discussed with industry partners, in particular the North State Builders Industry Foundation, is for the development of a regional training center. The vision is to develop a center that could support and act as a resource to local community college and high school trades programs as well as being a place for continuing education classes for working professionals. Finally, a public education component would provide information to the public as well as act as a marketing tool for industry and local training programs.

Energy Technology Project Footnotes


1. Greenwise Sacramento, Regional Action Plan
2. Centers of Excellence – Greater Sacramento, Solar Industry & Workforce Study Key Findings, 2008
3. Sierra College website section for the Energy Technology Program  (If link doesn’t work got to the Business Division, Construction & Energy Technology Program site as the programs were merging as of August, 2014)
4. NABCEP Entry Level Learning Objectives





Appendix A


Appendix B


Appendix C


Appendix D

Becoming a Change Agent for Sustainability

by Michael Kane


change, sustainability, change agent,


What is a change agent?

A few summers ago, I attended a week-long training on campus sustainability at the University of Vermont. It was one of the best trainings I’ve ever attended and the facilitator (Debra Rowe) at one point, after I had described some of the things I had accomplished in my career, congratulated me on being a successful activist for sustainability. That’s when the trouble started; you see I have never considered myself an activist, to me an activist spends way too much time screaming and making other people feel bad. I have always preferred to consider myself a subversive, someone who works somewhat under the radar to make change. The fact is though, that the term subversive carries a heavy negative connotation so it’s not a label I use for myself very often. In Vermont our disagreement resulted in me coming to a change in how I should refer to myself, so I’ve come around to the term change agent. I don’t think that labels are nearly as important as actions but this particular label got me thinking in a couple of ways. First, really what is a change agent? Secondly, at the encouragement of the facilitator, to really take a look at how in fact you do make change happen within an organization or community. The result of course is what follows.

I sat down to answer the first question and what really came to my mind first was what a change agent isn’t. In reviewing what a change agent isn’t, it is clear that I am reacting to the role the activist plays. I won’t go as far as to say that there isn’t a time and place for activism, but for me it seems to be a path that is too easily and frequently taken, when more could be accomplished by other methods.

For me a change agent isn’t a radical, a pest or a parent to the community or organization in which they reside. We all know, particularly on sustainability issues, that person who is constantly pointing out that you can recycle your soda can, or that your plastic bottle is KILLING THE PLANET! Similarly, the less in your face but equally annoying environmental parent who is always leaving you information, or gently reminding you that it’s everyone’s responsibility to care for the planet. It isn’t the message that is the problem from these folks as much as it is the constant feeling of being nagged and looked down upon. Condescension is never something that inspires unity or support for your position; no one likes people who think they are better than everyone else.

Likewise the radical is not a change agent. The person that is disruptive, in everyone’s face, purposefully skirting the rules and agreements that the community has agreed upon only serves one purpose and that is to get attention. Unfortunately, all too often the attention is primarily focused on the individual and their acts and not nearly enough on the reasons for their actions in the first place. I will say however, there is one time when an activist or even a radical is very necessary and that is at the very beginning of any movement. When no one is paying attention to an issue, getting people’s attention is massively important and necessary. I wonder where global whale populations would be at today if we hadn’t all seen those videos of Greenpeace Activists putting themselves between Russian harpoons and whales in the middle of the ocean on rubber Zodiac boats. However, once there is attention, in my opinion to achieve real, lasting (sustainable) change, you need the effective work of change agents, not activists.

So in coming back to defining what a change agent is, I have come to the two following definitions, a change agent for sustainability is:

A person who changes/moves the culture and behavior of an organization to a more sustainable place by facilitating sustainable changes (this doesn’t happen overnight).

A person who doesn’t accept the status quo or the mythologies that things are impossible to change for the better or that we’ve tried this before so it won’t work.

Purposefully I sat down to write these definitions before I dove into the literature in any significant way. Once I did, I found a lot of information on what change agents are, very few solid definitions, it seems what a lot of what people seem to want to do is lay out the characteristics of a change agent more than to define what they are. However, in the comments section of a blog piece on what a change agent is I saw a really succinct summary of not just what a change agent is, but the whole process of change and here it is:

A change agent recognizes the opportunity for change, identifies the best approach, becomes a catalyst and facilitates that change whether by design, planning or inspiration ~ Kevin Hulett

I think in fact his definition is better than mine if for no other reason that it is succinct, comprehensive and easy to remember.


Change is not welcome

change agent, change management

Change is painful, no one likes it, and typically it only occurs either for ulterior motives or when the pain of the status quo exceeds the pain brought about by change. We make changes when we think it will get us something we want or when not changing is painful. The real changes in life come when without the change there are serious consequences, like significant health issues or if by not changing we lose something we value. However, even when both of these major motivators are in play, keep in mind how difficult it is for someone to overcome an addiction; this is a good reminder that change is hard.


Essential Knowledge and Skills

So as a change agent there are certain skills you must have or develop and certain knowledge bases you must possess. It is important to remember that sustainability touches every part of any organization or community. What systems you don’t know in-depth you need to learn about or to find allies who have the knowledge that you don’t.

You must understand both institutional and personal priorities. This means that you must have an understanding of what is on paper, the things that are “supposed” to happen. Typically these are the goals and directions that are found in your organization’s mission and vision statements and your strategic and other master planning documents. It is also equally as important to understand the reality of your organization as well. Do these planning documents actually drive what happens in your organization or are there other factors that dominate how and why things happen the way they do? How much of what actually happens is driven by institutional motives and how much is actually driven by the personal motives of individuals?

In most organizations typically the driver is the personal priorities of those individuals who wield the most actual power within the organization. Like planning documents, there are plenty of people in your organization who have power on paper. Then there are the people who truly make things happen and drive the direction of the organization, people who have “actual” power. Very often this actual power is conferred on them by their own abilities and the power of their personality.

Most of us do not think specifically about power in our institutions, so as an exercise identify the five most influential people in your organization. These are the people with actual power, what motivates them, what do they want to achieve? If you don’t know, it’s important that you find out. Often there is a much overlooked way to find out, ask them. A simple and pleasant conversation about what they think the institutional goals are, what they should be, and how they can be achieved can be very enlightening.

It is also helpful to do this exercise for the people who have power on paper as well. The points of convergence between these two groups will be the areas where you can most easily and effectively work, especially if you can find a way to connect those areas to sustainability. Since almost every part of the organization is touched by sustainability it should be possible to find those sweet spots, even if they are not the areas you are most passionate about, they are areas where you can be successful and can be great starting points for your efforts.

Like the rest of the organization you also have both personal and positional power. The power of your position is what personnel and parts and of the organization you have the authority to manage or control. This is not to be confused with what you have responsibility for; the unfortunate reality for most of us is that we very often have responsibility for areas that we have  little or no authority to change. This brings us to the other type of power we each possess, our personal power.

Our personal power is the power that we bring to any situation by the force of our personality and who we are. This power is developed by our personality, our previous actions and in a large part by how we treat people. Our personal power’s foundation is our personal and professional relationships with the people in our organization. It is important to ask yourself what is your own personal/positional power? Be introspective and understand your personality, the way you impact others and what your true relationships are with everyone in your organization.

The key question you need to ask yourself in relation to your own personal and positional power is what do you have actual authority over and what do you need permission to do? For areas where we have positional and personal power we can act rather unilaterally to make change. We can make change in those areas as long as we examine and understand the implications of our actions. For areas where we do not, it is imperative to understand who has that power and whether either our positional or personal power can assist us in this area.


Where are the resources?

When thinking about resources we typically go straight to thinking about money, remember money is not the only resource time, support, people, materials, marketing, buzz and even rumors and gossip can be resources. But don’t forget about money either, there is a good reason we think of it first. However there are a lot of things that can be accomplished without money, or with very little. Once you know what resources are available and what resources you need it is imperative to know who truly controls those resources. This relates directly back to our discussion about personal and positional power. What is your relationship with the person who truly controls those resources?


Planning Effective Change

Have a dream. Take a few minutes and sit back and think about what you are trying to really accomplish. Is it just to make your department more sustainable, the organization, maybe it’s to be a leader in sustainability in your community. What do you want out of this for yourself? Is just helping your organization or community become more sustainable enough for you? Is this the way to a bigger or better job, a career change? It is important to be clear with yourself what your motives are in this effort. You do not have to share those motives, but understanding your personal motives will help you find ways to keep yourself going when things get tough, and those times will come.

Along those same lines what are you passionate about? Passion and motivation are intricately linked and focusing on what your passion is will also help you stay motivated and sustain you when things are difficult. To reach your goals you may have to at times really focus on things you are not as excited about. Knowing your passion can allow you to wrap elements of that passion into whatever project you’re involved in, helping keep you motivated as you move forward.

Understand the history of sustainability in your community or organization. How has the idea of sustainability been viewed historically in your organization? What previous efforts were undertaken and who led those efforts? How much unexpressed support or resentment for the idea of sustainability exists in your organization? Answering these questions will be crucial to understanding how you address sustainability issues and whether or not you can even overtly talk about sustainability.

Analyze the topography of your organization. This means thinking about what you are dreaming about accomplishing and seeing how it fits into the overall structure of your organization. Analyze this with an eye toward identifying points of resistance, the limitations of the organization or personnel, where do you and your ideas fit within the organization? Which of the things you are planning have to be moved uphill with great effort and which things will coast easily downhill into the organization?

Determine the power structure. You’ve already thought about who has the real power in an organization, now is the time to identify how that impacts your plans and dreams. Of the people who hold the power; which are allies, which are obstacles? In looking at the topography of the organization are their pathways around the obstacles? If so, who has the power to help you along those pathways?

Develop a multilevel plan. Many times I hear people say one of two things, either attack the small things first, or keep your eye on the prize and nothing else. Both of these approaches have serious limitations. First, if you only focus on the small, easily achievable accomplishments you may lose track of the end goal. If you only keep your eye on the prize and nothing else then you miss lots of opportunities to accomplish the small things and you may never have any success at all.

By using a multilevel plan you work across all levels of the organization and gain benefits from each approach. The short-term easily achievable items are great for creating initial success and giving the people involved a sense of accomplishment. You can feed off that initial success to motivate people to take on the mid-level goals of your plan. Your initial successes also give you excellent marketing opportunities, and can garner you support, resources and allies. People like to attach themselves to success; the important thing to remember is that as you develop allies you must focus them towards assisting you with your mid-level goals.

At the same time you need to be working toward the larger goals of your plans and dreams. If you envision that final goal as a destination, then going back to the topography of the organization you can see the small and medium goals as building the path toward that final destination. Almost everything you accomplish at the lower levels should have an additional trait of helping you to attain the larger goal.

Always be thinking about the ripples, the intended and unintended consequences of your actions. Be careful not to take easy successes that may later be obstacles to the success of your larger level plans. A mistake many people make along the way is that they get stuck at the tactical level, dealing with the immediacy of issues. This means they are not taking the time to be strategic, considering the long-term implications of their tactical decisions.
Finally, always be looking to find ways to leverage what you have done to a higher level.    As Debra Rowe stressed at the training in Vermont, why let the work only help you at one level.  Leverage what you did at campus level up to the system or regional level.

Assess your positional and personal realities. As you get started take time to assess your position in the organization or community. In your current position, what can you accomplish alone, what will you need allies for; will your actions put your current position at risk? Do you reasonably have the time you need to take on this challenge? Will the effort you have to put in to make your dream happen have any personal consequences? No cause, no issue is worth ruining your life over, or even taking it over for that matter. Balance between life and work, between life and causes should always be paramount. Sustainability is important but it is likely not the single most important thing in your life, don’t damage what is, in order to work for the issue of making a more sustainable world. Do only what you can and have to time and energy to do, you’re not in this alone.

Try and identify obstacles at each level of your plan. We’ve talked about it briefly but you need to identify the obstacles at each level of your plan. Now that you know what you want to do, how you want to do it at each level, analyze each obstacle in your way. Some of those obstacles will need to be avoided; there will be no benefit politically or otherwise to fighting that battle. Some obstacles will only need to be educated for them to no longer be obstacles and in the end can become incredible allies. Some obstacles will have to be battled, but honestly, this can be avoided in almost every case. The most important analysis is this; what can you accomplish that will be in the best interest of both the organization and your dream? Win-win, as cliché as it is, will always be the best choice when moving forward.

Determine what resources you have. Take inventory of the resources that you have available to you. What money is available to help you, how can it be used and who has the authority to spend that money without getting permission first. What money is available under condition of approval, who has that approval authority, and what does that person want? How can you tie what you want, to what they want, in order get to that win-win situation?

Remember the other resources that are at least as valuable as money. Is there staff time that you can get access to, marketing help for publicity? If you partner with someone or give them credit for an accomplishment it may buy you staff time, equipment or even space that you might not ordinarily have access to through your position.

What allies do you have in the pursuit of making your organization or community more sustainable? They are your biggest and best resource. Many change agents share a common flaw, we want to do it all ourselves, and for that reason the ability to delegate and trust others is your most important skill. Remember the list of potential resources mentioned earlier and never forget to make use of each and every one of them. The audience for everything you do is your community and is also a source of allies and resources. Always be aware of exactly who is in your audience, how they can most effectively participate, support and impact your plans.

Developing allies you don’t already have. We typically know before we start who will be our biggest supporters, but often we miss potential allies who may not be obvious or vocal supporters of our goals. It is important to let  people know that you are working toward improving your organization regardless of what terminology you are using. Often discussions about increasing efficiency or greening your own office leads to surprising connections. Recently when I put out a list of sustainability highlights from the last year via e-mail, I included in the distribution list all of the managers on campus. I was surprised to quickly get responses from two managers about the accomplishments in their areas that were not on the list. It turned out I had two secret allies I didn’t even know about and have since been able to wrap them and their enthusiasm into our overall campus efforts.

Don’t worry about who gets credit. Be able to work hard, be successful and not care about whom gets or takes credit for change as long as the change that you seek occurs. I’ll be honest, it hurts sometimes that you worked tirelessly on something and then at the last minute someone from above swoops in and gets all the credit.  What’s important is what you accomplish, it’s hard, but you have to remove your ego from the process.  One of my favorite quotes comes from Robert W. Woodruff, the founder of Coca-Cola. During his life he contributed huge amounts of money to charities anonymously. The following quote was his personal creed and a great mantra for creating change:

coke quote

There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit ~ Robert W. Woodruff


Implementing Effective Change

You have a dream or idea about what you want to accomplish, you’ve thought about your personal power, your organization and your community, about what allies and resources you may have. Now it’s time to take that initial thinking and planning and move it into action.

Have a clear and reasonable agenda. This is really what you have been doing up to this point, but it’s time to lay it all down on paper. Make sure your plan is reasonable in all of the key aspects that make it feasible, time, motivation and all of the various resources you’ll need. Remember the multilevel nature of your planning, clearly identify the easily achievable, the mid-level and high level goals. Make sure your communication and marketing efforts are also clearly laid out. Take a deep breath, the most exciting part of any effort is that first moment right before you start.

Grab an ally and go get that low hanging fruit. You know the topography, where the obstacles are, and you know where the low hanging fruit is and how to go from there to the mid-level and higher level goals. So first thing, find a like-minded individual and grab those easily accessible achievements, no need to start with grand proclamations, just accomplish something easy, regardless of the weight of its impact. This might be e-mailing people who know you will be allies and asking them to sit down to a brain storming session. It may simply be making sure the recycling bins in your office are accessible and clearly labeled. Maybe it’s signing up to a listserve so you have contact with peers trying to accomplish similar goals. It might even be deciding and calendaring attendance at a local sustainability organization’s meetings or reading a book to get ideas. Whatever it is, no matter how small, it’s a start and an accomplishment.


Start climbing the hill. You will run out of the easy things fairly quickly, that’s fine. Hopefully you haven’t been doing those things alone; remember early shared successes make for long-term allies. Take an opportunity after a reasonable time to reflect, communicate and internally market those early accomplishments.

Pick one of your mid-level goals and carefully sit down and list out what it will take to make it happen. What resources will you need, how do you get them, identify any obstacles and how they will be dealt with? Then start doing it, implement what you need to do to accomplish that goal. An absolute open secret, big things are usually accomplished with careful planning and simple hard work.

Give people what they need, to get what you want. Remember someone doesn’t have to share your philosophy or motivations or even support your goals to be helpful. However, everybody needs or wants something. Think back to the exercise on identifying what the people with real power want and need. If you can provide these people with what they want or need, very often you can get what you want or need to get done. Now, I’m not recommending making any deals with the devil here, there are always multiple ways to get things accomplished, so if the price is too high, find another way.

When I first went to work at a former college I sat down early on to meet and talk with the college president. I asked him directly, “what is it you want from me in this position?” His equally direct and honest answer, “positive press for the college, you make the college look good and I’m your best friend.” He meant it and I then had a clear path to getting done what I needed to get done. By bringing in positive press and awards I served my own goals but also kept an incredibly powerful and helpful ally very happy.

An important thing to remember however in this type of relationship, never make anyone stick their neck out for you. Some people will be willing to do this, but in the end it can create a very damaging situation for you and them. It’s ok to stick your own neck out, but never put anyone else, ally or not in that position. In the long run people will respect you for not doing to them what many other people are happy and willing to do and it will keep you from being accused of the all too common adage of throwing people under the bus. Remember, your personal power, one of your greatest assets, is almost entirely built upon the perceptions of others and how you treat them.

Overcome the inevitable obstacles to change. We said it earlier, people don’t like change and they will resist it. This simple fact will make getting what you want to get done harder than it should be. Some people will become obstacles in the path of what you are trying to accomplish so you need to get past them. The very first thing you have to do is identify why they are an obstacle. Maybe they don’t understand what you are trying to do or why you are trying to do it. For these people often it’s simply a matter of sitting down, explaining your position and answering their questions. Others will oppose what you are doing based on philosophical reasons. It’s best early on to go around these people; they will not be able to be reasoned with so find another path. The same reality will exist for people who just hate change, don’t waste your time, energy or political capital fighting with them.

Of course no one likes the taste in their mouth from biting their tongue and letting someone obstruct them or force them to find another way. At times however it is necessary, so how do you effectively go around these obstructions. One great way is to tie what you are doing to another successful effort, particularly if this effort is the pet project of one of the power brokers in your organization. Joining your efforts related to energy efficiency with the chief financial officer’s crusade for more financial responsibility can be a great way to get around someone who believes sustainability is some kind of hippie fad. Efficiency is a great way to represent the goal of almost all of your sustainability efforts, it is very hard to argue against the idea of being more efficient and saving money, regardless of what anyone’s motives are in making that happen.

change, change agent

It is also important to look at alternate ways to accomplish what you truly are trying to accomplish. All too often we can get hung up on how we want to do something, instead of what we are trying to accomplish. One example of this is the idea of creating a sustainability requirement for college students. Many sustainability groups on campuses are currently making this effort and sometimes there is a lot of resistance to this effort, at other times just not enough enthusiastic support for making it happen.

What is truly important is that we expose all students to the concepts of sustainability so they can be more informed and hopefully better global citizens. One way to do that is certainly to require that each student take a course that will expose them to this idea. However, there is a more subtle way to make this happen and that is to infuse sustainability concepts into a wide array of courses, eventually even all of them. Both methods achieve the same goal but in very different ways. The first approach, the course requirement, demands that a majority of the faculty of the college support the idea through approval of at least one, but usually multiple academic committees. Additionally, you’re creating an additional course requirement for students and students are rarely happy and supportive of additional course requirements, for a good reason. It reduces the amount of freedom they have in course selection.

Using the second method, infusing sustainability concepts across the curriculum you have several advantages. First, you aren’t asking for everyone to accept it immediately, you can do it on a course by course basis and even in some cases department by department. Secondly, students are not being asked to accept any additional burden or reduce their choices when selecting their schedules. There are of course some downsides, first it will happen much more slowly. Secondly, since you will be adding these concepts into courses across disciplines there is a lot more training and support that will be needed to make it happen. Of course because of the diversity of courses you also give the students a broader concept of the relevance of sustainability.

Analyze your goals and progress. One of the most beneficial things you can do to help you be more successful in achieving your goals is to regularly analyze your progress and re-evaluate what you are doing. Be realistic, sometimes you will have uncovered unavoidable obstacles that will make you have to completely change your plans. Sometimes you’ll realize you can make things happen faster and on a larger scale than you ever imagined. Sometimes everything is exactly where you thought it would be, trust me, this will be the rare exception. Regardless, regular analysis and re-evaluation will keep you on task and heading in the right direction.


Making change permanent and sustainable.

As an effective change agent you are going to create a different environment from the one you in which you started. Expectations and standard operating procedures will change, and will create both new opportunities and problems. People’s expectations of you may change dramatically as well and you will have created new friends, allies and enemies during this process. However at the end of the day the most important and often the most difficult part of change is the ability to make it permanent.

The reason this is so difficult is that very often the change that is created is driven by the change agent and their allies. As long as these people stay in their same positions, and retain or increase the power they have, the new status quo will remain in place. However we all know that in reality this will not be the case, people move on, priorities shift, new leaders and power brokers enter the organization or emerge. External realities related to business and budgets can change dramatically over time. So how do you make the change you worked so hard for permanent, in a word, institutionalization.

Now it’s easy to think of institutionalization as meaning money, ok there is a line item in the budget for sustainability so everything is fine. Institutionalization is more broad-based than that, effectively institutionalization means taking the change away from the individual change agent and incorporating the change into the fabric of the organization or community. Yes, this means financial support but it also means a new way of doing things, that the change has been incorporated into the standard operating procedure of the organization. More than that, the change has been enculturated into the organization, in this case meaning that the culture of the organization includes making decisions within the framework of the concepts of sustainability, that sustainability has become a true core value of the organization. This will often mean new written policies and procedures, continual resources for sustainability and that the new ethos is represented in every facet of the organization and within its planning mechanisms, including but not limited to the mission, vision and cover values documents of the organization.

Of course the preceding paragraph is for the goal of making a more sustainable organization or community. If your initial goal was smaller, to say increase recycling in your organization, the same concepts all apply just on a smaller scale. You would need to make sure the culture of the organization supports recycling, that appropriate resources are available, funding, appropriate bins, an infrastructure for handling the materials. At whatever scale you’re dealing with, the primary goal is to get the change out of the hands of the change agent and into the fabric of the organization so it is no longer dependent on the efforts of any one specific individual.


What to do once you’ve succeeded

Success is a beautiful thing and often the hardest part of the process for the change agent. What you have been dedicated to is your baby, the focus of your work life, often the reason you are still doing the job you are doing. In order for this effort to be truly successful it eventually has to leave your hands and be put into the arms of the organization. At that point you lose a lot of control over the very change you created. It’s important to remember at this time what you have accomplished, but you’re not quite finished, first you have to do a bit of bragging.

Always brag about what you have accomplished. As you went along you were giving people credit, bringing them along for the ride, you made others look good so you could accomplish your goals. You were also periodically keeping them in the loop as to the progress you were making and the benefits to them and the organization or community as a whole. Now that you have achieved your goals you need to continue to do this for two important reasons. First it helps with the enculturation of the change that you made and reminds people of how far your organization has come. Secondly, it builds good will and increases your personal and hopefully your positional power so that you are in a better starting point for your next project.

Additionally, where sustainability is concerned, and I owe this thought to Debra Rowe, it is important to leverage what you have done to the next level. Take what you’ve done, and how you’ve accomplished it, and tell folks about it locally, regionally, nationally and even internationally. This effort pays dividends in so many ways as it can bring you into contact with new allies and their ideas. Most importantly it is an altruistic act toward a goal we all share when we are working towards the big goal of a more sustainable world, that of helping others do what we are trying to do. This is the very reasonable core of the idea of acting locally while thinking globally.


Celebrate and make new dreams! It is important to celebrate what you have accomplished. It may seem that this is especially true given my recommendation that you give everyone else credit for what you accomplished. Trust me, people will understand the role you played and respect you even more for the fact that you shared the credit. Also take this time to give yourself the space to dream again and those dreams will be bigger given what you have just accomplished.
Finally selfishly, you know what you did, be proud of it and treat yourself accordingly, not just at the very end of the project, but periodically as you achieve your goals. This brings us back to balance in life, and to the credo of one of my favorite musicians Webb Wilderwork hard, rock hard, sleep hard, grow big, wear glasses if you need ‘em!


The Pursuit of HappinessThe Pursuit of Happiness; Finding a Job in Sustainability

A presentation at the This Way to Sustainability Conference at CSU Chico, March 6, 2014

What we will do today in the next 50 minutes:

                *  What is happiness and why is it important?

                *  How are sustainability and happiness related?

                *  If I want to work in sustainability and that will make me happy, how do I find a job?

                *  Physical takeaways from today’s talk

What is happiness and why is it important?

What is Happiness?

What makes people happy?

Age, income, having children, education, toys, travel, experiences

How are sustainability and happiness related?

Three prongs of sustainability, economy, environment, social equity – happiness allows us through measures like the Gross National Happiness measure to get our arms around the social equity component of sustainability

We believe that the sustainability movement must embrace the concept of happiness as a major focus. In fact, there are strong parallels between happiness and environmental sustainability; both advocate for the fact that life is more than just about money, and that relationships with other people and the environment matter.

~ Chirapon WangwongwirojUniversity of Michigan

Bhutan provides us with an example of a serious attempt to quantify social equity so that it can be on the same level in people’s minds with indexes of economic and environmental vitality.


GNH value is an index function of the total average per capita of the following measures:

1.Economic Wellness: debt, average income to consumer price index ratio and income distribution

2.Environmental Wellness: environmental metrics such as pollution, noise and traffic

3.Physical Wellness: physical health metrics such as severe illnesses

4.Mental Wellness:  usage of antidepressants and rise/decline of psychotherapy patients

5.Workplace:  jobless claims, job change, workplace complaints and lawsuits

6.Social Wellness: discrimination, safety, divorce rates, crime rates

7.Political Wellness: the quality of local democracy, individual freedom, and foreign conflicts.

If sustainability efforts are themselves going to be sustainable over the long haul, sustainability needs to connect with a vision of the good life. ~ Dan Farber, UC Berkeley

Happiness as Correlate of Sustainable Behavior: A Study of Pro-Ecological, Frugal, Equitable and Altruistic Actions That Promote Subjective Wellbeing ~ Victor Corral-Verdugo (Human Ecology Review)

In turn, sustainable behavior significantly influenced a “happiness” factor – in other words doing things that were good for sustainability made people feel better about themselves

If I want to work in sustainability and that will make me happy, how do I find a job?

                You already have identified your interest

                Resources available,  Finding a job in Sustainability

                How do you get a job – education, experience, passion and how you stand out

Physical takeaways from today’s talk

                Link to the job site as well as resources mentioned

                5 Things you can do immediately to make you happier

                Shameless plug: Read the Ministry of Happiness Blog

Finally here are the slides for the presentation: The Pursuit of Happiness

Finding a job in sustainability: A resource list


Sustainability and related jobs

Apparently I need to get a life, an original smaller list popped up on the Green Schools list-serve some time ago and in my free time I’ve been expanding it and testing the links.  The result I hope is a really solid list for students and others looking for jobs in sustainability but would love any additions anyone has, feel free to add them in the comments or e-mail at  Additionally at the end of the document are some resources about several topics including general information on jobs in sustainability and resources about environmental consulting.

Special thanks to all the folks whose sites and posts I’ve raided to put this together, please now steal it from me.  ~ Michael Kane


Standard Job sites


Career Builder


Indeed –


Monster –


SimplyHired –


LinkUp –


Craigslist –

In my estimation the most overlooked job posting resource by students.  Browse by location but a trick is to go up and select all jobs in the filter tab.


LinkedIn –

Primarily a work related social network but does have a jobs section.


Glassdoor –

A job site with a little different look, it provides more information about companies and salaries than most job sites.


USA Jobs –

Federal government jobs site, not a big selection of sustainability gigs but if you are looking for more business or science oriented positions it’s a good site


Higher Education related sites


Higher Ed Jobs –

Chronicle of Higher Education –


“Green” job sites – job sites with a green focus


Cyber-Sierra’s Natural Resources Job Search – Conservation Employment

This site does have some job postings but is much like this list a huge aggregation of sites organized by category, agriculture, natural resources, forestry, etc… definitely an environmental science/studies focus but an amazing site full of resources.


Search Engine for Green Jobs – GreenJobSpider

In some ways really love this site, it has a phenomenal reach in finding listed positions, but wish there was a sorting ability beyond all or new jobs, but a great site to invest some time in if you’re job searching.



Great site broad range of jobs both in the US and globally! –

A job site with a green jobs focus, they also try and broaden the platform with articles, a blog, etc…



This website is a good resource for information about environmental sustainability and business.


Environmental Career Center –

An old jobs board that has updated to modern interface focusing on environmental jobs


Ecohearth –

Another basic green jobs site, a lot of postings but oddly doesn’t seem searchable?


Allen and York – Sustainable Recruitment Professional Staffing Group –

Global recruiting site for professional jobs in sustainability


Cool Climate Jobs –

Fairly sparse listings


Environmental Career Center –

Standard job site with some aggregation from other search engines –

Very standard and basic job site –

Listed job site, no real search option and environmental science focused


Evergreen Resources – Environmental Job Search Website – Based in UK

Site is focused on technical environmental fields, energy, environmental cleanup etc.


Green Job Board –

Not the most diverse listings but some jobs available – Green Dream Jobs

Has sustainability offerings but seems to have a strong focus in renewable energy


Green Job Engine –

The sponsored job listings are good but few in number and even fewer jobs in the unsponsored category.


Sustainability Jobs –

Standard jobs site focusing on sustainability has the feel of a site like


Sustainable Industries Jobs Board –

Standard jobs site focusing on sustainability large number of listings across broad spectrum



Grist, a good source for environment news, has been around for a long time. Their new website includes a jobs board, not a lot of listings but a decent site.

Small but focused site with good listings.
Bright Green Talent

Some job information and job board very similar to TreeHugger

Strong site based in the UK, with broad categories but particularly strong in CSR and Energy.

Environment Jobs UK

Nonprofit and public sector environmental and sustainability posts from the UK.
Eco Employ

Job listings but no search function, if you switch between job listings you’re fine but if you bounce between screens there are a lot of pop-ups on this site.


Green Jobs International

A German-based meta site identifies green jobs all over the world but mostly Europe, heavy emphasis on energy jobs.

Advocates for Urban Agriculture –

Nice site on urban agriculture jobs and internships primarily centered around Chicago.


Green job listings by state


By using the following format, you’ll get a job search listing by state, with links for a variety of green job areas, for example yields the following:

Browse California Green Job Listings

Maine Jobs

Natural Choices

Natural choices, green living and sustainability in Maine has a jobs board and links specifically to sustainability related jobs in Maine


Maryland Jobs

Maryland green jobs

State of Maryland site for all things green in Maryland including jobs


Maryland department of Labor

Maryland’s department of Labor has a green jobs page as well


North Carolina

North Carolina Clean Energy Association

Clean energy jobs in the state of North Carolina.


Oregon jobs

Sustainable Business Oregon –

The name says it all, sustainability related job openings in Oregon


Sustainable Agriculture Positions


Sustainable Agriculture Education Association (SAEA) –

The site provides a conduit to their LinkedIn page where they list positions.


Orion Magazine Jobs Board –

Grassroots magazine with a good number of jobs, somewhat northeast US focused.


Ag Job Network

Standard job listing site focused on the agricultural sector


EcoFarm –

Job listings at Ecofarm, so few listings


Good Food Jobs –

Food related jobs!


Green Collar’s Green Job Board –

Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada –

Sustainable Food Jobs –


Academic Posting Web sites

American Society for Horticultural Science –

Chronicle of Higher Education –

North American College & Teachers of Agriculture –


Government Web sites

USDA’s Employment website –


Farm Internships/Apprenticeships


California Certified Organic Farmers Employment and Internship/Apprenticeship Classifieds –

Center for Environmental Farming Systems

Grow Food –

Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) –

Rogue Farm Corps-

Tilth Producer’s Apprenticeship Placement Service –


Volunteer Positions



Renewable Energy & Green Building Focused sites


Renewable Energy Jobs from

Good site for Renewable Energy jobs – Green Dream Jobs

Has sustainability offerings but seems to have a strong focus in renewable energy


US Green Building Council Career Center-

Green building and renewable energy related jobs.



Strong site based in the UK, with broad categories but particularly strong in CSR and Energy.



Great site broad range of jobs both in the US and globally!  Solid renewable energy section.


Green Jobs International

A German-based meta site identifies green jobs all over the world but mostly Europe, heavy emphasis on energy jobs.


North Carolina Clean Energy Association

Clean energy jobs in the state of North Carolina.




NCSE internship clearinghouse  –

Site is supposed to be a clearinghouse for internships, definitely a useful site but some disconnects and out of date postings.


Ethical Performance –

Ethical Performance is a social responsibility newsletter with a jobs section that includes internship listings.  Not a lot of positions but an interesting site.


Renewable Internships in Sustainable Employment –

Sustainability related internships in the state of Hawaii, never going to be a lot of listings but hey cool internships in Hawaii!



Corporate Social Responsibility Jobs



Strong site based in the UK, with broad categories but particularly strong in CSR and Energy.


BC CCC Members List –

Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship advertises job opportunities from their member companies.


BSR jobs –

Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) is the largest single employer of US-based CSR consultants. They often have internal openings.


BSR » CSR Jobs Page –

BSR lists external CSR jobs on a separate page from their internal listings. This is the single best listing of CSR jobs.


Just Means –

Site combines social networking with well-populated jobs listings.


Ethical Performance –

Ethical Performance is a social responsibility newsletter with a jobs section that includes internship listings.  Not a lot of positions but an interesting site.



International postings for environmental NGOs, CSR and ethics related positions.


Monthly Developments Magazine

Before the internet, Monday’s Developments was the only resource for international developments jobs, solid site for NGO postings as well as some CSR jobs.


Non-Profit Jobs

NonProfitOyster –

The Oyster has a powerful job searching database for positions in the US and Canada.
Opportunity Knocks

OK includes both a powerful search engine and a resume posting option for US-based opportunities.

An initiative of the Bridgespan Group, this site provides nonprofit career-matching services.

Lists nonprofit positions from the executive to mid-level.
Tides Foundation

Based in San Francisco, Tides Foundation is an incubator for social and environmental nonprofits. They list positions for Tides and Tides grantees.


International Development Jobs


A great job search engine including international NGO opportunities, not a lot of listings but has the added feature of being able to search by internship.

International postings for environmental NGOs, CSR and ethics related positions.
Development Aid

Job posting for development jobs, primarily in the developing world.
Thompson Reuters Foundation –

A strong search engine specializing in humanitarian aid and social change.

Primary focus is on international volunteer opportunities.



International development and consulting opportunities, need to create a free account in order to search jobs.
Global Recruitment

This company is an international development recruiter.
Monthly Developments Magazine

Before the internet, Monday’s Developments was the only resource for international developments jobs, solid site for NGO postings as well as some CSR jobs.


Relief Web

Humanitarian aid and development positions.

Non-Brits often overlook VSO which opens its door to people from many nations. VSO is similar to Peace Corps but the volunteers have more pertinent work experience.


Philanthropy Jobs

Foundation Center

With resource offices in major cities around the US, the Foundation Center’s Philanthropy New Digest lists jobs focused in philanthropy and fundraising and provides a new job list by state.
Chronicle of Philanthropy

The Chronicle of Philanthropy lists job opportunities largely in the nonprofit and grant making arena.
Council on Foundations

This is a fee-based service of foundation focused jobs.
MMB & Associates

Martha Montag Brown recruits for philanthropy positions. Her website includes her current searches with a focus on executive level positions.


Policy/Public Affairs Jobs

Opportunities in Public Affairs

Position in public affairs in the Washington DC area.

EU related policy jobs.

Subscription Services, that’s right, these cost money.


Green Collar (Subscription service) –

Great specialization on their job search application, there is a membership (Subscription Service)

Subscription service but they always have a couple of jobs you can access without subscribing.


Environmental and Natural Resources Jobs (Subscription Service)

Nature and environmental focus, sites introduction very unfriendly



Articles on finding jobs in Sustainability


5 strategies for finding a job in Sustainablity –


3 part series of finding green jobs –


An old piece from 2008 but I like its basic look at who will/is hiring –


Piece on environmental consulting jobs –


Nice overview on skills needing in Environmental Consulting –


Sustainability Consulting 101 –


Who’s hiring in Sustainability –


So you are the new Sustainability Director: Now what? –




Environmental Consulting Industry Information


Consultant Journal – Become an Environmental Consultant


Environmental Business Council Resources – Compilation of Resources


Environmental Data Resources, Inc.


Going Green – Environmental Jobs for Scientists


Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative


Resources on Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development


The Top 200 Environmental Firms – ENR McGraw-Hill Construction



Key Environmental Consulting Institutions


Arcadis – Infrastructure, Water, Environment, Buildings


Black & Veatch (Worldwide)


BluSkye – San Francisco based consulting firm


Cardno ENTRIX – Natural Resource Management and Environmental Consultants


CDM (Worldwide)


CH2M HILL (Worldwide)


ENVIRON – Environmental, Health Sciences and Sustainability Consulting


Environmental Resources Management (ERM)


European Environment Agency (EEA)


Geosyntec Consultants – Engineers Scientists Innovators


Home – Strategic Sustainability Consulting – Virginia based


Marstel Day – Resolving complex environmental and land use issues


MWH – The Global Leader in Wet Infrastructure


RMT, Inc. Renewable Energy, Environmental Consultant, Sustainable Development


SWCA – Environmental Consultants – Phoenix, AZ


Tetra Tech Inc.


TRC Engineering Services, Consulting & Construction Management Company


Veolia Environmental Services – Waste Management


Environmental Consulting Professional Associations & Networking Sites


Air Quality Professional Associations


Air & Waste Management Association (AWMA)


Institute of Clean Air Companies (ICAC)


Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association (MECA) – Air


National Association for Environmental Health & Safety Management (NAEM)



Waste Management Professional Associations


Zero Waste International Alliance


Coalition for Responsible Waste Incineration (CRWI)


Environmentalists Every Day – America’s Solid Waste Industry


Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) – Waste & Recycling


National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA)


Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA)



Water Resource Professional Associations


American Membrane Technology Association (AMTA) – Water


American Water Works Association (AWWA)


Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA)


International Desalination Association (IDA) – Water


Irrigation Association (IA) – Water


National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA)


Water & Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association, Inc. (WWEMA)


Water Environment Federation The Water Quality People


Water Quality Association (WQA)



Miscellaneous Sustainability Related Organizations


Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)


Environmental & Engineering Geophysical Society (EEGS)


Export Council for Energy Efficiency (ECEE)


International Society of Sustainability Professionals


National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP)


Northwest Environmental Business Council (NEBC)


SustainUS – U.S. Youth for Sustainable Development


The Ecological Society of America (ESA)

AASHE Presentation

Presentation at the 2013 AASHE Conference in Nashville, TN

AASHE presentation

Sustainability News – September 17, 2013

Modern society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at its lifestyle. ~ Pope John Paul II




New coating could propel LED’s into mainstream


Fracking impacts on livestock


Duke Energy, advocates agree on energy efficiency plans.  

Learn how reducing, reusing, and recycling can help you, your community, and the environment by saving money, energy, and natural resources. 

Energy use in USA in 2012 was below 1999 level, though economy had grown 25%. 


Energy efficiency can save billion of dollars.

Sustainability News – May 6, 2013


If you have no will to change it, you have no right to criticize it.  ~ Abraham Lincoln

A sustainable pet food company

Montgomery County Community College, honorable mention as bike friendly university

Here come microgrids

Free market environmentalism

The death of sustainability

Sustainability News – April 23, 2013

“It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.” ~ Ansel Adams


C40 & Siemens announce a broad collaboration on sustainability


A look at Bill McKibben


Global Warming emissions in US and China


Tips on living more sustainability 


Solar power plane makes successful test flight


Infusing Instruction and Operations for Sustainability

Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them ~ Albert Einstein


Today’s post is a simple link to an article about a project we’ve been working on at Sierra College.  In our Energy Technology Program we use our advanced solar class to do commercial level installation work on our main campus.  Over the last 3 years the students have completed a project in 3 stages culminating in a 99 panel, nearly 18,000 watt system valued at nearly $100,000 and providing the college $4000 worth of electrical savings each year.  The link is to an article about our recent ribbon cutting for this project:

Do you have similar success stories from your campus, let us know about them we’d love to publicize them.

Sustainability News – April 18, 2013


“I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?” ~Robert Redford, 1985


Some recycling/sustainable tips for Earth Week


Spotlight on the superfood Kale 


Support solar for low-income families and our friends at Grid Alternatives


Unilever’s success on carbon reductions


5 ways social enterprises can engage corporations