Central Carolina C.C. a Leader in 'Greening'
The United States is taking on an ever-deepening green hue -- "green" -- as in Earth-friendly farming, energy production, and construction. Green is spreading and growing, even into areas such as tourism and culinary arts.
Central Carolina Community College knows about green. Its nickname is "Green Central" because sustainability programs have been front-and-center in its planning for a long time.
"Central Carolina was green before it was cool to be green," said Dr. Bud Marchant, college president.
Central Carolina started offering sustainable agriculture classes in 1996. In 2002, it became the first community college in the nation to offer an associate degree in sustainable agriculture. The college also offers certificates in sustainable vegetable production, sustainable livestock production, and agricultural sustainability.
Central Carolina was the first -- and still is the only -- community college in North Carolina offering an associate degree in alternative energy technology: biofuels.
"Even university programs don't have the work force-training aspect CCCC offers," said a spokesman.
Central Carolina is one of the few community colleges in North Carolina offering classes in green building and renewable energy. It has the only North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP)-approved Solar PV panel installation course at a N.C. community college.
Central Carolina is a leader in responding to the greening of traditional career fields. Eco-tourism classes begin in summer 2009. A "natural chef" culinary arts program will complement the sustainable agriculture program by offering training in the preparation and use of local, in-season foods.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARR Act) of 2009 budgets billions for shovel-ready construction projects, preferably with environmentally friendly features. Central Carolina has shovel-ready plans for a $4 million, 18,000-square-foot sustainable technologies classroom and lab building on its Chatham County Campus. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer.
The building will be constructed to the high LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards of the U.S. Green Building Council. It will house the college's biofuels, sustainable agriculture, green building/renewable energy, eco-tourism, and culinary arts programs.
"Central Carolina Community College has been on the cutting edge, both in North Carolina and nationally, in promoting sustainability awareness through education and partnerships with business, industry and government agencies," said U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge. "It is in the forefront of the training of the 'green-collar' workforce, for whom the need is increasing exponentially."
Etheridge was chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management in the 110th Congress. He played a key role in the passage of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, a new five-year farm bill. It includes about $1 billion for renewable energy, such as increased production of non-food crops for biofuels and more than $400 million for producer-to-consumer marketing, organic food growing, and pest and disease control.
The congressman voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which will provide funds to help make sustainability a way of life and train millions of Americans to work in "green-collar" industries.
The greening of America started with individuals and groups finding ways to opt out of the use of highly processed foods, polluting fuels, and energy-hogging vehicles and buildings -- ways built on the efficient, effective use of natural, renewable resources.
Green has become mainstream as educational institutions, businesses, corporations, and local, state and federal governments learn to live work, and, importantly, fund initiatives that are environmentally friendly and sustainable.
"I've been working on sustainability and adding green jobs for a long time, " said Speaker Joe Hackney of the N.C. House of Representatives. "We need to teach our young people to approach everything with fresh eyes, to constantly look for ways to conserve and protect natural resources, and that's what Central Carolina Community College is doing. "
More people have become aware of the importance of sustainability with Congress' recent passing of the ARR Act. It includes billions for alternative energy, fuel efficiency, and other "green " projects.
Code Green, a new initiative by the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges, commits the community college system to a major expansion of training for the "green-collar" work force. The initiative also provides impetus for incorporating sustainable practices and building methods at community college campuses.
"I have visited the college's Chatham County Campus, where the biofuels, sustainable agriculture and green building programs are located, and seen the great work they are doing," Etheridge said. "America can become energy independent, it can revitalize its industries and agriculture and put America back to work through environmentally friendly technology and workforce training -- and Central Carolina Community College is helping to lead the way."
Karen Allen, the college's Chatham County provost, said the college stays on the cutting edge by being very responsive to its community and maintaining close ties to organizations, businesses, agencies, and government. The Chatham County Economic Development Corporation recently unveiled a plan for development in Chatham County. Renewable energy and green technology sectors were among the list of industries targeted for recruitment.
"Sustainability is about being able to conserve our resources so they're available for the next generation," Allen said. "It's about reducing our carbon footprint on the earth. It's about farming methods that help the earth keep and improve its fertility while producing delicious, wholesome foods. It's about the use of biofuels, solar, and other renewable energy sources to replace the use of depleting and polluting fossil fuels. It's about building with renewable or recycled materials and conserving energy in the process.
"It is important to our future that we as a nation lead the way in research and promotion of these new, emerging technologies. And we at Central Carolina Community College will provide the lead on work force development. We are green and we're going to keep getting greener -- and the green industries can count on us to be there for them, training their work force for now and in the future."
For more information about Central Carolina Community College's sustainable programs, go online to www.cccc.edu/green/ or call the Chatham County Campus, (919) 542-6495.
Katherine McDonald is a news and feature writer for Central Carolina Community College, Sanford.
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