Reporting from the 3rd Annual Butte College Sustainability Conference, Second Day

8.6.09 download 003 Day two of the Butte annual sustainability conference opened with a special keynote featuring Ken Grossman, Owner and President of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company – a very popular company with the Butte crowd! Grossman, an alumni of Butte, gave an impressive overview of all the sustainability practices in place at the Brewery, such as the recycling or reusing of almost all waste (99% of waste is diverted from the landfill), using motion sensor lights throughout the buildings, a 10,000 plus panel (solar) structure, and a cattle partnership with Chico State University where the cows are fed spent grain, spent yeast, and even spent beer from
the brewing process. The Brewery also captures CO2 emissions, compressing and cleaning them and using the carbon dioxide as fuel in the dispensing process. Sierra Nevada also has two sustainability coordinators to monitor practices and look for new opportunities.

A second presentation by Dr. Randal Beeman from Bakersfield College, a professor of history, talked about the role of the government in sustainability in history. Dr. Beeman highlighted a couple of ecological crises from the past – the dust bowl and the flooding of the Mississippi and Tennessee river valley in the 30’s. He says the U.S. has always reacted to crisis, instead of preparing for a crisis. The message? Let’s prepare for the warming climate by building a sustainable society –- sustainable homes, campuses and communities with sustainable practices. He emphasized that sustainability, specifically sustainable agriculture, needs to sustain both people and the land and support their regeneration.

Many of the second day sessions focused on green jobs training and opportunities and the role of community colleges. SunPower, a company that designs, manufactures, and delivers solar systems worldwide, hosted a session titled Enhancing Solar Job Training and Solarizing Colleges. Their goal is to partner with community colleges and collaborate by providing support for curriculum and “train the trainer” development, linking colleges with local PV installers, and jointly pursuing federal funding for green jobs training. SunPower has an outdoor learning laboratory to train people on how to install solar PV panels (both on the ground and on the roof) and how to service them. They are hoping more learning labs can be built throughout the state and that community colleges will integrate their use into the curriculum.

Yvonne Christopher, faculty member for construction inspection at Butte College, shared her plans for a 12-building scenario village that will break ground this fall. This village will be built with green features and used for training purposes for local fireman and police, as well as Butte students interested in green building careers and construction.

Butte currently offers courses in energy efficiency and renewable energy, green building technologies and practices, and a green building and LEED certification course.