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New Undergraduate Major Focuses on Eco-Design and Renewables

Starting in the fall of 2012 undergraduate student at Green Mountain College in Vermont will be able to undertake a full-fledged, 42-credit Renewable Energy and Ecological Design (REED) major in renewable energy and ecological design.

Students at Green Mountain College have already been exploring the potential of renewable energy systems and ecological design principles through GMC’s REED certificate program over the past three years, but this new major will allow students to specialise in the same area and walk away with a full degree.

Students in the Renewable Energy and Ecological Design program

“Under the leadership of Lucas Brown (assistant professor of environmental studies) and Dr. Steven Letendre (associate professor of economics and environmental studies), students are building knowledge and skills through in-class lectures, design studio work, hands-on courses, and internships,” said GMC Provost Dr. William Throop.

Part of the major will include a hands on segment which will give students who are undertaking the major the chance to design and build projects that will directly benefit the college and the surrounding community.

“The renewable energy and ecological design courses at GMC allow students to engage in real-world solutions as part of their education,” said Brown, who earned his master’s degree in architecture with a focus on sustainability at Ball State University. “With a comprehensive understanding of the environment, well-developed critical thinking skills and hands-on experience, REED graduates are prepared for a variety of career opportunities and graduate school opportunities. Students graduating with the REED certificate have already found employment with renewable system installation, design/build companies and advocacy organizations.”

According to GMC, the REED major is also going to focus heavily on the pressing need to transition to renewable energy resources.

“Students gain a working knowledge of renewable energy technologies and the appropriate applications that offer practical, cost-effective, sustainable solutions moving toward a fossil fuel free future,” said Dr. Steven Letendre a national expert on renewable energy technologies and policy.

The GMC board of trustees voted February to approve the major, which has already been accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

From the GMC press release:

The REED program has already developed an impressive portfolio of projects. Students built experimental solar thermal greenhouses designed to extend the growing season and boost food production on the College’s campus farm. Last year, Brown and 19 students designed and built an off-the-grid “tiny house” as part of a REED design-build course. During the fall 2011 semester, REED students unveiled their Occupy Vacant Lots, or OVaL Shed: a garden shed for the Champlain Valley Native Plant Restoration Nursery that will incubate native plants for the region. Students created the shed as a moveable, modular structure that collects rainwater, heats water using a solar panel, and can be adapted for use at farms or gardens that lack access to storage, water or electricity.

The next REED project will be a solar-power recharging station for a plug-in vehicle.

Image Source: Green Mountain College

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