(WACO) – “Going green” also means “making green” for many involved in the construction industry, and students at Texas State Technical College in Waco can choose from several eco-friendly technologies that could lead to lucrative jobs.
TSTC integrates green building construction into its Building Construction Technology associate degree and Building Construction Craftsman certification. Students can also earn an associate degree in Solar Energy Technology or a certification as an Energy Efficiency Specialist.
“We look at various ‘green conscious methods’ from water conservation and reuse, to how to frame a home efficiently, to using less materials, to understanding the total cost of using local material and what that translates to financially,” TSTC Energy Efficiency Specialist instructor Tony Chaffin said.
By the beginning of this year, green construction was expected to have created 1.1 million jobs and supplied $75.6 billion in wages in the United States, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.
“The new energy and building codes are requiring us to step up our game, so it’s vital that we start feeding people into the industry that know the most efficient and sustainable and financially smart ways to build and inspect buildings,” Chaffin said.
TSTC building construction students learn from the ground up ways to build sustainable and efficient residential and commercial properties.
“Green building is a completely alternative way of building things. We talk about the weird stuff like straw-bale construction and adobe building and earth-bag construction — all of the out-of-the-norm building methods to create a more efficient construction,” Chaffin said.
In addition to alternative construction methods, Solar Energy Technology students discover alternative energy resources in their studies.
“Solar has been established as an alternative energy for a while. But it is now becoming a very realistic option that people are switching to, and it’s creating a large job market,” said TSTC Solar Energy Technology instructor High Whitted.
In studying solar technology, students become familiar with the electrical components of solar panels to make them competitive in the electrical field as well.
“The solar field is so heavily electrical that we make sure that when our students leave, they have the solar and the electrical knowledge to make them more valuable than the person who can just install the solar panels,” Whitted said.
Along with solar, students explore energy resources like wind, hydroelectric, geothermal and natural gas.
“We create well-rounded students that get the whole package. They can talk to the customer and explain it in layman’s terms and also work with the technicians and fellow builders or do the inspections,” Chaffin said.
The construction industry remains competitive, but instructors notice that graduates with a “green background” are becoming more valuable to employers.
“I’ve had several students come back and say that when they mention in their interviews that they have this knowledge and certification, their employers are thrilled. It makes them so much more marketable,” Chaffin said.
In an electric world, keeping the lights on while balancing resources the planet has to offer is an ongoing concern. Students with knowledge of green construction are leading the way to building a brighter future.
“Energy is expensive, and it’s only going to get more expensive. So, if we can make our resources last longer by requiring less of them and make sure our students are prepared to use these materials, we’re moving in the right direction,” Chaffin said.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.