Energy efficiency goes online

Program’s founder looks to the future

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Lane Community College’s Career Technical Education Program in energy-efficient commercial building will transition to an online format starting next fall. The two-year degree program will be funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation and will be available to students in the Northwest and Northern California.

Sterling Gonzalez / The Torch
Roger Ebbage discusses the opening of the online Career Technical Education Program. Ebbage, who has worked at CTE since it re-opened in 1992, is the LCC Energy Management and Water Conservation director and is optimistic about the program launching in the Fall of 2018.

“Students who are wanting to pursue this program will learn all about how a building operates,” Roger Ebbage, director of LCC’s Energy Management and Water Conservation programs said. “They learn all about the energy-using systems within a building, and about how to reduce the energy consumption of those energy-using systems.”

The CTE program was created in 1980, but only lasted eight years before shutting down. Ebbage restarted the program in 1992.

“There are a few other online CTE programs, but nothing like ours,” Ebbage said.

His program’s lesson plans include hands-on experience in and around commercial buildings.

“We’ve pioneered this concept of living laboratories,” Ebbage said. “They [the students] learn how to do energy efficiency by doing energy efficiency in a real place. We take students into the building environment to teach them how to do what they will be doing when they graduate from the program.”

Ebbage was a member of the design team for LCC’s downtown campus.

“When we built this building, we said, ‘Here’s a great opportunity to create some intentional education components to the building.’ And I think that’s why they wanted me involved.” The building “functions as a passively solar-heated and cooled building,” Ebbage said.

Students in the online commercial building energy efficiency program can expect the same model of hands-on learning as those in classrooms, because the program will partner with utility employees to guide students through hands-on experience.

“We have a network of fieldwork mentors who will work with students regardless of their location in the Northwest or Northern California,” Ebbage said. In return, the utility mentors are able to “test-drive students as potential employees.”

Graduates of the program will qualify for 28 established fields, including auditor, building controls technician, and engineering assistant. Job opportunities may be available with “starting wages 20 to 25 bucks an hour, with benefits,” Ebbage said.

“Next on the horizon is doing the same thing with our water conservation technology program,” Ebbage said. “We expect to launch that in fall of 2019.”

The launch of the new online format for the energy-efficient commercial building program will start in fall of 2018 when a cohort model of an estimated 24 students will start the two-year program together.