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CTE and Sustainability
ACTE believes that environmental sustainability is not only best practice, but a deep reflection of the values of the CTE community, the guarantee of a safe future for the planet and a key component of its economic future. Therefore, ACTE hopes to lead the CTE community on issues of sustainability and provide the resources and guidance our members desire.
In the fulfillment of that mission, ACTE is collecting myriad resources on the CTE aspects of the green economy, including professional development, job listings, teaching materials and valuable research to aid administrators, teachers and students at all educational and professional levels.
This Web page and our special green issue of Techniques are only a start. We hope to expand dramatically, creating and listing an essential repository of sustainability resources for the CTE community. It is to our members, then, that we turn for assistance in compiling this information. You can also listen to ACTE's discussion on sustainability with Don Brunning and Ray Grimard, CTE teachers and creators of The Enviropals! television show, on the October 2009 edition of Career Tech Talk.
Read the report on ACTE and NC3's jointly held summit on Building a Sustainable Energy Workforce.
Check out NASDCTEc's "Green and Sustainability Standards for Career Pathways." This information is applicable to all career pathways and can be used in all discipines. Additional specific standards are included for architecture and construction; agriculture, food and natural resources; IT; manufacturing; transportation, distribution and logistics; and STEM.
The idea of "green" has come a long way from recycling and solar cars: It's already become a verifiable business phenomenon, encompassing renewable energy, energy efficiency, reduced emissions, even healthier indoor environments. Successive presidential administrations and many states have initiated investment and workforce-development initiatives to promote the growth of sustainable industries—the Harvard Business Review called sustainability "the key driver of innovation." Of course, any industrial growth requires a requisite workforce to go with it; with so many emerging fields and technologies paired with political and social support, "green-collar" jobs are expected to be the next great avenue of career opportunity. Consulting firm Challenger, Gay & Christmas estimated in 2008 that green jobs will experience "explosive growth" to the tune of 1.3 million new jobs annually until 2030, or 40 million total in green employment, including requisite support positions (accountants, computer analysts, executives, etc.) In fact, Challenger reported, the most limiting factor to green growth could be insufficient workforce supply. Even the workplace is becoming greener.
As a growth example, whereas 10 years ago the green construction was barely a blip in the national economy, it was worth $12 billion in 2007 and continues to expand as more and more buildings are retrofitted to meet new sustainability standards and new constructions aiming to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards continue to set new records as a percentage of overall building starts. Sustainable industry looks increasingly like the most secure long-term investment. Green business, in general, is booming in ACTE's home state of Virginia.
With $100 million earmarked by the Obama Administration in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for sustainable energy alone, along with a $3.3 billion plan to switch to a smart electrical grid (a similar plan is spending $200 million in Miami), it's clear that green is an ideal avenue for career exploration and development, especially for engineering students. Educational opportunities are sprouting up all over the country and the jobs themselves may be recession-proof. Students are flocking to sustainable careers that Silicon Valley has pegged as the next big economic boom. Industry is guessing about the future, but where are the jobs and what kind, exactly, are there?
In a rapidly changing, ever-advancing world of new technologies, the only way to move beyond the doorway is to keep up with the advances. For CTE teachers in sustainable fields and the workers who enter green careers, professional development is the way to stay ahead and remain competitive. This aspect of the green revolution presents a training problem. Fortunately, green tech organizations have been proactive in developing conferences, conventions and courses to keep the workforce, and those who educate the workforce, well-trained.
The issues and technologies surrounding sustainable careers are changing just as rapidly as the green fields themselves. Although schools are working hard to green curricula, if keeping up with the shifting environment can be tough, imagine teaching in it. There is no shortage, however, of resources for self-education and tools to take into the classroom.
Are you already teaching sustainability or in a green field? ACTE's Lesson Plan Library is a popular tool, but it is only as vital as the members want it to be. We'd like to add lessons on sustainability and sustainability-related fields, so please submit your green lessons today!
These resources can be used for almost anything, from legislative advocacy to budget hearings to impressing upon students the utility of green industries.
- ACTE's Issue Brief, "CTE's Role in Energy and Environmental Sustainability," explores the growing role that career and technical education programs play in efforts to increase energy and environmental sustainability. CTE offers early exposure to students regarding sustainable energy career options through curriculum integration, provides the “cutting edge” training necessary to ensure future employees meet workforce pipeline needs, and sets an example through state-of-the-art green buildings that become part of the curriculum.
- The John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University released "Preparing the Workforce for a 'Green Jobs' Economy."
- This Wired article explores the need for data in sustainable practices, lest they be ... not so sustainable.
- The Apollo Alliance is loaded with data and reports on all segments of the green economy.
- USGBC has a wealth of green-building facts, links, publications and case studies, particularly pertaining to LEED.
- Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. recently posted a two-part examination of green occupations (1, 2).
- Lean and Green News also released a two-part study (1, 2), this one on accounting in a "lean and green" environment.
Due to cost effectiveness and student health and achievement, green schools are among the leaders in sustainable construction and just received a large sum of federal money for construction and retrofitting. Included here are a variety of tools to get started in the classroom.
For all that greening, we can't forget about the one place we spend most of our time—the home. Unlike the green economy, home sustainability has been a major focus for consumers around the world for decades, growing into a multi-billion dollar industry of its own. The government will even give a tax break for greening up your living space.
Green Programs for Students
ACTE represents educators, but education itself, just like sustainability, is about the students, the next generation, the future. After all, it's the students building the automobiles of the future, designing sustainable homes and exploring the meaning of sustainable living.
Like their teachers, students need institutional support and activities to further their explorations of green careers.