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PCC earns $700K grant for sustainability initiative

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Portland Community College has announced it is the recipient of a three-year, $698,095 National Science Foundation grant to infuse sustainability content, practices, tools and techniques into PCC programs that impact building construction.

The grant, which will fund the college’s “Sustainability Training for Technical Educators” program, will provide professional development and training activities to faculty in Building Construction Technology (Rock Creek Campus), Architectural Drafting & Design and Interior Design (Sylvania Campus), and Facilities Maintenance Technology (Cascade Campus). As part of the grant, a Summer Sustainability Institute will provide training for PCC faculty as well as other instructors throughout the state.

This builds on the previous NSF Advanced Technology Education Center Planning Grant of $69,858, which supported the planning of the regional center for sustainable development education and training in the Portland area.

“The goal of the regional center is a long term project, which we’ll do in several phases,” said Todd Sanders, instructor in mechanical engineering and grant project coordinator. “In the first phase, we get faculty into industry internships to learn about technology and current issues that they will bring into the classroom.

“The second part is the Summer Sustainability Institute for our instructors through the Conservation Services Group Inc.,” he added. “It offers training to other regional high school and college faculty, and professionals interested in what the latest trends are. The third part of it is developing and maintaining a Web-based clearinghouse of sustainable curriculum that will be a general resource for support curriculum.”

The grant is a partnership between PCC and the Beaverton School District, Clatsop Community College, Earth Advantage, Klamath Community College, Lane Community College, Neil Kelley Cabinets, Portland State University, Portland Public Schools, Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University and Renaissance Homes.

In 2009, the Summer Sustainability Institute will be held at Lewis & Clark College where regional and local speakers will train about 60 educators on sustainability building practices. Nine PCC faculty will participate in internships at businesses like Neil Kelly and EarthAdvantage. They will return and help revise or create 28 courses in the three departments.

The final goal is the regional center, which is in discussion between the partners. Sanders said that he is thankful that PCC leadership has made this center a priority.

“The decision came from a lot of levels and administration has been very supportive, including PCC President Preston Pulliams,” Sanders said. “And all of the presidents at the three campuses were very supportive of this and see this as great direction for the college.”

Denise Roy, architectural drafting instructor, said she and Amanda Ferroggiaro, interior design instructor, aim to become more familiar with “green practices” such as high-energy-efficient homes and small commercial buildings such as structural, heating and cooling systems, electrical and lighting, water harvesting, passive and active solar, and building materials.

“I will concentrate more on building issues while Amanda will focus more on lighting, day-lighting and materials,” Roy said. “Then, in the spring 2009, Amanda and I will work to revise our curriculum to incorporate these ‘green practices’ into various classes. There is a list of classes proposed to receive ‘green’ curriculum updates and the revisions will take the form of PowerPoints, work sheets, projects and assignments, new readings, and hopefully building alliances with several non-profits like Earth Advantage, Home Builders Association and private businesses.”

Also, any grade nine-12 instructors and other community college faculty from around the Northwest will be able to participate in the summer institute, Roy said.

“It is very important that our programs incorporate sustainable and green practices,” Roy added. “Our district president is committed to a green mission and our drafting and design programs already have sustainable topics in various classes, but our mission here is to improve on existing curriculum, become exposed to ‘hands-on’ experience through our participation in internships and raise awareness of sustainable practices for our part-time faculty.”

At the Rock Creek Campus’ Building Construction Technology program, three faculty members will be participating in internships in the 2009-10 school year. Each member will take a term off from teaching and do an internship with a company engaged in green building.

For more information about either one of these grants, contact Todd Sanders at or (503) 977-4654.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »


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