Virginia’s Community Colleges are going green

The Virginia Community College System hosted its annual Hire Education conference, Extreme Innovation – Workforce Edition, last week at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia. More than 400 workforce development faculty and other professionals gathered to network and share best practices of innovative programs and methods to help build a sustainable foundation for the current and future workforce. Panel discussions and breakout sessions ranged from entrepreneurship, leadership in continuing education, recruiting students from underserved populations, to new green workforce training programs and partnerships.

The Greenforce Initiative, a partnership of Jobs for the Future and National Wildlife Federation, sponsored the event, and hosted a workshop on linking campus sustainability to green career pathways. The Greenforce Initiative seeks to advance green career pathways, geared toward lower-skilled adults, and helps make the connection between on-campus sustainability efforts as hands-on training opportunities for students.

While the Greenforce Initiative partners with ten community colleges in Virginia, during the workshop “Linking Campus Sustainability to Hands-On Training,” we highlighted three.

Germanna Community College new LEED building

Germanna Community College highlighted their new LEED Silver building (at their Fredericksburg campus); students will be giving tours of the buildings to educate the community on the green features (including rainwater harvesting, passive solar, etc.). 

Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave featured their sustainable and edible landscaping program engaging local farmers as well as students interested in starting new businesses in the landscaping industry.

Thomas Nelson Community College solar installation

Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton Roads spotlighted their new solar installation project for their motorcycle storage containers. Thomas Nelson students helped design and build the solar panel installation (two panels) that will be placed on the top of two containers that store all equipment, including motorcycles, for their motorcycle safety courses. The panels will power lights as well as a ventilation system.

Other colleges and groups featured are developing green programs as well:
Virginia Western Community College (VWCC) is hosting three renewable energy showcases this spring featuring consumer information on various aspects including geothermal systems, photovoltaic systems, solar water and space heating systems, and residential wind turbine systems. Showcases will be on April 8, 14 and 21. Learn more about this opportunity.

– The Virginia Weatherization Training Center provides training and certification in both weatherization and residential practices at their 14 partner campuses across Virginia. Course offerings include, but are not limited to, air conditioning & heating pump professional, energy auditor, Lead Safe Weatherization Training, and Energy Star Inspection and Procedures. Learn more about the Center.

Learn more about the Greenforce Initiative in Virginia and our community college partners.