Green Mountain College Launches New Major in Eco-Design

Mar 06, 2012, 10:58 ET from Green Mountain College

POULTNEY, Vt., March 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Over the past three years, Green Mountain College students and faculty have explored the potential of renewable energy systems and ecological design principles through the College's Renewable Energy and Ecological Design (REED) certificate program.

Beginning in the fall of 2012, undergraduates at GMC will be able to pursue a full-fledged 42-credit REED major. The new program offers depth of study in renewable energy and ecological design, while allowing students to specialize in an area of interest by selecting from courses across the curriculum, including art, business, and sustainable agriculture. The College's board of trustees voted last month to approve the major, which is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. 

"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

The learning experiences integrate renewable energy and sustainable design within the framework of GMC's rich, interdisciplinary liberal arts education. What makes REED unique is that students are engaged in hands-on design and build projects that directly benefit the College and the local 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."

The REED major also emphasizes the urgent 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 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.

Founded in 1834, Green Mountain College is a private, four-year liberal arts institution that takes environmental sustainability as a unifying theme across the curriculum. GMC was named the second greenest school in the country in 2011 by Sierra magazine, after garnering the magazine's number one spot in 2010. 

SOURCE Green Mountain College