Develop Certificate and Degree Programs around High Performance Buildings

There is increasing demand in the high performance buildings industry for a workforce that incorporates a new set of advanced skills into the necessary traditional skill set. To address this knowledge gap, a state could look to its universities and technical colleges to provide certificate programs in energy efficiency and high performance building assessment. While various community colleges within a state may already offer relevant degree and certificate programs, a state could establish a specialized degree program at several community colleges that specifically focuses on high performance building construction.


California community colleges have developed a curricular pathway to gain these advanced skills, offering degrees and certificates tailored to the specific needs of high performance buildings. For example, Laney College, a community college in Oakland, California, houses the Environmental Control Technology program, which offers three certificate and degree programs for high performance building education. The college is also in the process of establishing a Building Performance and Energy Efficiency degree to expand student learning beyond individual systems within a building, providing a holistic, integrative approach to managing smart buildings. These programs help students acquire skills in system programming, building operations, performance measurement, and sustainable design. Typical courses include Control Systems Networking, Psychrometrics and Load Calculations, and Energy Management and Efficiency in Building Systems.


State leaders could work with universities and technical colleges to create more programs focused on high-demand skills such as data analysis, controls, and programming. Developing these programs in the community college system would be especially valuable because, as some states have shown, many of these skills can be acquired within two years. Allowing students to graduate in the shortest time possible should reduce program costs, making these programs affordable and accessible to more people. With these certificates and programs, graduates would be prepared to enter the efficient building workforce in a variety of good-paying, skilled roles, including installers, operators, code officials, LEED experts, home energy raters, and smart building managers.