As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of college and university programs that expose students to sustainability either through the classroom or through working projects and installations on campus (or a combination of both). Most of the programs I’ve featured, though, tend to focus on the “traditional” undergrad student — the 18-21 year old full-time student. While that’s definitely a positive development, an awful lot of college students these days aren’t traditional: they’re adults with families and full-time jobs working on degrees or picking up classes on a part-time schedule. So, I was happy to read about a program at Oregon’s Mt. Hood Community College designed for these students. The Sustainable Building Advisor Certificate Program holds classes once a month on the weekends for nine months, and allows building industry professionals, city planners, architects and engineers the opportunity to study green building concepts with a healthy dose of “real-world” experience and professional guest speakers:
With field trips to underground green parking structures in the Pearl District, to the rain garden at the Oregon Convention Center, to the loading dock at The Port of Portland, students get a birds-eye view of many of the most progressive, innovative sustainable building practices out there.
[Lake Oswego, OR, director of community development Stephen] Lashbrook said the guest speakers were the gem of the class. “I took just pages and pages, notebooks full, of notes,” he said. “And then we’d all ask tons of questions after the talk, and the information we came away with was just incredible.”
The cost of hiring any one of those guest speakers, whom Lashbrook called “top Northwest experts in their fields,” would have been unaffordable.
Instead, he got the benefit of their experience and expertise through Mt. Hood’s program, and he is applying his knowledge to his job with the city of Lake Oswego.
Apparently, the program has been so popular that students drive and even fly from as far away as Oakland, CA, for training for a sustainable building job. Hopefully, the word will get out to other types of institutions that cater to older students: sustainability isn’t just for young idealistic college students, but also for professionals looking for practical solutions to environmental issues, and building practices that will save owners money for the life of the structure.