Use of alternative energy sources, from hybrid cars to home solar panels, may become more common as global warming rises. Officials at Shoreline Community College expect the trend to grow and want the college to respond accordingly.
They’ve just launched new environmental initiatives for the school that could bring additional training in environmentally friendly technologies to the classroom. The initiatives also aim to reduce the campus’ environmental footprint and raise public awareness of environmental problems.
A committee will look at each of those issues and offer recommendations this year.
The initiative is, in part, an attempt to attract new students. The college has suffered from declining enrollment in recent years, which affected the college’s budget.
“When you look at future (career) opportunities, this is something that could be a calling card,” said Lee Lambert, college president. “We don’t know how many students exactly, but we’re hoping it will be significant.”
The initiative will benefit the community and the planet, Lambert said.
“More than ever we’re recognizing that you can’t ignore the environment any longer,” he said.
Preparing students for new careers is one part of the school’s environmental vision.
For instance, courses were offered this summer to train students in the automotive program to service hybrid cars.
The college wants to offer training in other areas as well.
For example, emergency medical responders can’t cut open a hybrid car the same way they can a gas-powered car, Lambert said. If solar panels become more prevalent, people will need training to install and build them.
Refresher courses, certificates or even degrees might be offered, Lambert said.
Environmental sustainability could be more of a focus in academic courses as well.
“This concept of greening the curriculum has been on board for a while,” said Judy Yu, director of communications for the college.
Faculty have discussed integrating environmental issues into social and political science classes, she said. A committee will assess what new offerings are possible and make recommendations by year’s end.
The committee also will look at campus emissions, fuel use, waste and materials the college uses — like paper. It will then make recommendations on how to be more environmentally friendly.
Future capital projects also would be assessed.
Raising community awareness about the environment is another of the college’s goals.
Speakers on campus this fall and summer have given talks on alternative fuels, solar energy and how to reduce the school’s environmental footprint. The college will host Odyssey Days, an environmental event, in October.
Finally, a Solar House that recently arrived on campus likely will be refurbished by the end of October.
The house, in keeping with the college’s new initiatives, is meant to show the public that solar power is a viable energy source, Yu said.
The 800-square-foot house, designed and built by Washington State University students for a national competition held last year, runs entirely on solar power. With a kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom, the house has enough juice left over to power a car.
“We had to be able to run a television, washer, dryer, dish washer and take a 20-minute shower,” said Lindsay Mellum, a Washington State University graduate who helped build the house. She was working on it earlier this week on the Shoreline campus. “The goal was to show it can be done.”
The house will serve as the office of Mike Nelson, informally known as “Mr. Solar.” Nelson is a Shoreline resident and director of The Northwest Solar Center, a WSU program promoting solar energy.
Officials hope the college’s new initiatives will set it apart while addressing environmental issues.
“We’re excited we’re going to be one of the community colleges taking a leadership role in sustainability,” Lambert said. “To help address climate protection for the planet.”