The sustainability movement is on pace for rapid growth in the United States, with some analysts predicting it will approach $50 billion by 2013. Stanford University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of California, Berkeley, and MIT top the U.S. News and World Report list of universities offering degrees in renewable energy, sustainable design, and conservation. It was only a matter of time then that a college, focused solely on preparing grads for careers in this field, would appear on the map.
Ecotech Institute (Colo.) offers programs in solar and wind energy, environmental technology, and energy efficiency, among others. Operated by Education Corporation of America, which also operates career-focused schools such as the Culinard Institute and the Golf Academy, the Ecotech Institute opened its doors last summer, but moved to its permanent home in January. The facility produces its own power with photovoltaic solar panels on the roof as well as energy-generating solar technologies embedded into the glass of the front building canopy. In addition, eight small wind turbines, a vertical axis wind turbine, and two “solar trees” (decorative clusters of solar panels that look like exotic trees), combine to generate nearly 40 kilowatts of electricity. Inside, energy efficient lighting, motion sensors, and computerized timers keep energy usage to a minimum. --Tim Goral