Green Initiatives Support the New Economy

Atlantic Cape’s Green Education Institute, which was launched in 2009 to offer training in the latest environmental trends, enjoyed a great deal of success during the 2010-11 academic year with some key projects and initiatives.

Solar Class 1

GEI, which was created under the leadership of Jean McAlister, Associate Dean, Continuing Education Operations, formed a partnership in fall 2010 with South Jersey Industries to offer training to 10 SJI employees. The training equipped the workers with the knowledge and skills to conduct energy audits that are in greater demand as consumers are increasingly seeking green energy alternatives.

Then in May 2011, GEI hosted a Green Solutions Conference for the Hospitality Industry at the college’s Cape May County Campus. This collaborative effort with the Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Green Building Council, was held in partnership with the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored by South Jersey Energy Solutions and Marsh & McLennon. The conference included panel discussions facilitated by a variety of industry leaders, including keynote speaker Faith Taylor, Vice President of Sustainability and Innovation at Wyndham Worldwide, who focused on environmentally friendly products and services for the hotel industry.

“Atlantic and Cape May counties have the highest concentrations of hotels and lodging in New Jersey,” McAlister pointed out. “This is why the State’s Office of Economic Growth and Green Industry was very interested in supporting this conference.”

Solar Success

Meanwhile, another successful GEI component was the new Solar Professional Certification course, a 490-hour program offered through the college’s continuing education program, which made its debut in January 2011.

“This is truly a green demand occupation, because New Jersey is the second-largest installer of solar panels in the country, after California,” McAlister said.

The course, approved by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), consisted of 260 hours of classroom training, in subjects ranging from basic math to basic computer skills and basics for photovoltaic, as well as 230 hours of on-the-job internships, the majority of which were paid.

“The students were also introduced to green building principals and toured windmills, a waste management plant and the solar array at the Atlantic City Convention Center, which is the largest in the county,” McAlister added. “As part of the college’s commitment to promote education ladders, the students received 24 college credits that could be applied toward an Associate in Applied Science degree, with a Solar Energy Technology option.”

Six of the 10 students who took the course landed full-time jobs in the field. Plus, the course enabled the students to qualify to sit for the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners Entry Level Program Exam.

Looking Ahead

In light of these successful developments, GEI planned to expand the educational option to include NABCEP Technical Sales Certification, PV Installer Certification and training for K-12 teachers to enable them to apply the teaching of science and math in relation to the new green technology.

GEI also planned other related “green” conferences, including a Green Marketing Conference to be held at Bally’s Atlantic City in November 2011, and a Green Solutions Conference for the Restaurant Industry in partnership with the Atlantic County Utilities Authority and the Academy of Culinary Arts, slated to take place in May 2012 at the Mays Landing Campus.