This option combines courses in Environmental Studies and Sustainable Energy with hands-on, skills-based courses in renewable energy technologies. You’ll learn about the importance of renewable energy systems in creating a sustainable civilization and select courses that teach you how to design, install, maintain, and sell these systems, including photovoltaic, solar thermal, and wind energy infrastructure. You may also study the growing field of green retrofitting and energy auditing.
Note that transfer to many four-year colleges and universities may require the completion of four semesters of World Languages. Four sequential semesters of World Languages classes from GCC will fulfill any UMass-Amherst language requirement.Curriculum documents
- Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency (lre) required courses – from our official academic catalog
- Degree completion checklist (2019-20) – a worksheet to track your progress towards completing this program
To plan degree completion, see the course descriptions in the academic catalog which specify the planned semester(s) in which required classes are to be scheduled.
This is just one way you might complete the Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency program in 4 semesters over 2 years of full-time study, or 8 semesters over 4 years of part-time study. (Sample course sequences assume that all pre-requisites have been satisfied and the student is prepared for college-level work.) For a detailed list of required courses, optional electives and program information, download the Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency program description from our official academic catalog.
Sample 2 Year Sequence of Courses Fall 1 Spring 1 Fall 2 Spring 2
ENG Comp. I
ENG Comp. II
ENG 200 level course
Sample 4 Year Sequence of Courses Fall 1 Spring 1 Fall 2 Spring 2
ENG Comp. I
ENG Comp. II
Fall 3 Spring 3 Fall 4 Spring 4
ENG 200 level course
Student learning outcomes
Take appropriate industry exams based on your course work. Find employment in the renewable energy/energy efficiency field, e.g. green building, energy auditing and/or solar. Continue academic studies in a four-year Baccalaureate program.
Consider this program if
- You want a broad as well as deep understanding of renewable energy systems or energy efficiency.
- You who want to work in the field, designing and building renewable energy systems or improving energy efficiency in physical infrastructure.
- You want to pursue higher academic study in renewable energy.
By taking classes in a Liberal Arts option, students complete courses that help develop 100 and 200 course level knowledge and skills in a particular field. If you don’t satisfy the requirements of a specific Liberal Arts option, you may still be able to fulfill the requirements of another option, or fulfill the requirements of the Liberal Arts General degree. Students are advised to work closely with their GCC advisor to select the specific courses that will help meet their career or transfer goals. Note: Students who complete a Liberal Arts option will graduate with the degree “Associate in Arts in Liberal Arts.” Your area of concentration is reflected only in your transcript, not your diploma.
RE/EE students come from diverse backgrounds and want to do a wide variety of work in the green energy sector. The flowcharts below suggest sequences of courses tailored to intended certifications and career paths. Please note that these are suggestions, not requirements—use them in working with your advisor to plan your course of study.
We align our renewable energy/energy efficiency curriculum with national certifying organizations to prepare our students to sit for the following exams. Students interested in certification should review eligibility requirements at the corresponding website, then work closely with an advisor to plan an appropriate course of study.
Building Performance Institute (BPI)
Depending on course of study, students are eligible to sit for written and field exams to earn BPI Certification. (Tests are proctored by The School for Energy Efficiency in Waterbury, Connecticut and are not offered on the GCC campus.)
Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI)
Depending on course of study, students are eligible to sit for the LEED Green Associate Exam. (Tests are proctored by an outside agency and are not offered on the GCC campus.)
North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP)
Depending on course of study, students are eligible to sit for the NABCEP Certificate of Knowledge, a written exam proctored at GCC. NABCEP also offers certification in PV Installation and Solar Heating Installation.
(413) 775-1472 email@example.com
I teach Community Energy Solutions. It’s a course I really enjoy because we take an interdisciplinary approach – looking at how we use energy in our world from a scientific, social, environmental, and economic perspective – and using everything you already know about how you use energy in your own life and work. I manage a sustainable energy cooperative and work with lots of employers in the region, so I’m good at helping people figure out where they might fit in as workers in this growing local economy. I have a Masters in Education and strive to create an environment where people can learn valuable skills and make meaning in their lives.
Thomas Benjamin is a registered Landscape Architect and LEED Accredited Professional (AP) practicing design and sustainability consulting in Massachusetts. He works concurrently as a Landscape Architect for the Regenerative Design Group and as a Sustainability Consultant for the Energy Services Division of Environmental Compliance Services (ECS). He has more than 20 years experience in environmental design work often focused on ecological restoration and green design, including energy and food systems. His restoration experience includes assessment, design, and construction of upland, wetland, riparian and coastal sites/properties using low tech bioengineering solutions. In addition, Prof. Benjamin’s site planning work emphasizes low maintenance native plantings for public facilities, commercial, institutional, residential developments and private residences. His work has often encompassed creation and enhancement of natural stormwater filtration systems in both developed and natural contexts. He also has natural resource planning and land use regulatory experience. His skills support projects from conceptual planning through design, construction and monitoring phases. Prof. Benjamin has lectured at Harvard, MIT and many professional conferences. He continues to teach sustainable landscape design at the University of Massachusetts and Greenfield Community College. His courses tie the built environment to natural systems to advance less resource intensive landscape design approaches. Topics include energy efficient landscapes, composting and solid waste reduction, and integration of productive, permaculture based food systems. In addition to being an avid ecological gardener, he enjoys weeding the woods.
(413) 775-1120 firstname.lastname@example.org
Earth is warming, human activities are the cause, and only we can act to reduce the potentially catastrophic impacts. I am teaching Introduction to Global Warming because I think students need to understand the basics of climate science and the challenges we face transforming to a sustainable, zero-carbon civilization. I have a BS in Mechanical Engineering, an MS in Urban and Regional Planning, and a lifetime career in planning and community development.
B.S., Northeastern University
M.Ed., Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
S419D (413) 775-1429 email@example.com
Ted Johnson teaches Physics, Astronomy, and Meteorology as well as coordinates the Engineering program. He has a BS in Electrical Engineering, an MS in Science Education, 12 years of engineering experience, and several decades of teaching experience. He brings experience in solar building design, amateur radio work, computer applications, artificial intelligence and vision work, and engineering experience in meteorological weather balloons, piezoelectric transducer design and fabrication, resinate deposition based ceramic microcircuits, commercial radio transmitters and repeaters, antenna design, as well as business experience as an industrial process consultant and troubleshooter. He has taught courses in electronic circuit design, both analog and digital, most programming languages, robotics – motion and vision, several levels of physics – classical and modern, electrical wiring, astronomy, meteorology, and industrial electronic control systems. His work experience includes Raytheon, Sprague Electric, US Sonics Corp, General Electric, Mount Anthony Vocational Center, Vermont Department of Labor and Industry, Berkshire Community College, Westfield State College, Community College of Vermont and Greenfield Community College.
Co-Chair, Science Department
Plant Biology/Renewable Energy
B.A., Yale University
M.A., University of Massachusetts
S419B (413) 775-1462 firstname.lastname@example.org
Teresa Jones graduated from Yale University in New Haven, CT, with a double degree in Environmental Studies and History. She received her master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in Plant Biology. She has worked as a science reporter and co-authored a book on asthma. She began teaching at the high school level before coming to GCC in 1999. She currently teaches Botany and Sustainable Energy courses, and was awarded a 2013 Green Giant Award by the Western Mass Green Building Group for her work in the green energy and building field.
Instructor, Residential Energy Efficiency and Energy Auditing
S407 (413) 775-1120 email@example.com
Beth Paulson is both a building analyst and an ecological landscape designer who has worked with clients, workshop attendees, students and co-workers to conceptualize, analyze, design, craft, and commission hundreds of buildings and landscapes throughout metro Boston, the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires.
She runs a consulting & design/build firm, is a member of the teaching faculty at GCC, HCC, and the Sustainable Design Institute, and works as an instructor with the Green Jobs program run by Co-op Power, where she also serves on the Board of Directors.
A lifelong passion for sculpting, and puzzles, and walks in the woods, studies in ecology, environmental design, and landscape architecture, a heartfelt devotion to those who have chosen to navigate a healing journey after trauma, and the delight of growing and preparing vibrant food and medicine all influence the way Beth works with people to create healthful, safe, comfortable, beautiful buildings and landscapes in which they can thrive.Beth is a systems thinker who keeps adding to her understanding about the relationships among structures and the environment around them, rather than differentiating between the systems as two separate entities.
Beth currently teaches Sustainable Landscape Design for the Boston Architectural College, Residential Energy Efficiency and Energy Auditing for Greenfield Community College, and is helping people understand and remediate ice dam problems. Her family is in the process of a deep-energy-meets-deep-ecology retrofit of their home in Greenfield.
Natural Resources Senior Special Program Coordinator
B.S., Southern Illinois University
M.S., University of Massachusetts
S411 (413) 775-1366 firstname.lastname@example.org
Anthony Reiber is the Greenhouse/Lab Technician managing the greenhouse facility at GCC as well as the soil science instructor. He received an M.S.in Wetland Conservation from the University of Massachusetts and a B.S. in Plant and Soil Science from Southern Illinois University. His experience in greenhouse and nursery production with the New England Wildflower Society and New England Wetland Plants concentrated on producing native plant species specifically for habitat restoration and natural landscaping. In addition he started his own growing operation to provide plant material for the largest wetland restoration project in New England.
Alex Risley Schroeder
N416 (413) 775-1120 email@example.com
The “green” or “sustainable” economy that we’re building together has the potential to engage all of us. I teach the Green Careers Exploration course to think and learn with folks interested in figuring out the ways their work can help build this economy out. As a statewide and regional policy and training consultant on green job creation and preparation, and the former Green Careers Coach at the Franklin Hampshire Career Center, I bring a range of green career perspectives and job seeking strategies to the class. I have a Masters in Education from UMass Amherst. My current work looks simultaneously at preparing adult learners for work in the sustainable economy and growing these jobs.
(413) 775-1120 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeremy Toal teaches SCI 127: Introduction to Sustainable Design and Green Building. He is passionate about helping others see the benefits of and opportunities in sustainable design and renewable energy. In his class, students explore the integrated design process and tackle design problems. They apply innovative design and ideas about beauty to real projects—most recently they worked on possible designs for a typical Habitat for Humanity home. One RE/EE student pursued an internship with Habitat the next semester where the ideas and the hands-on work “all came together.” Jeremy is currently developing an advanced design studio course to follow the introductory class.
Jeremy is a registered Architect, licensed in MA and NY, and a LEED Accredited Professional, specialized in Building Design and Construction. He has been actively involved with the Western MA Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (WMAIA), serving on the board for many years and as President from 2012-2013, and is a member of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA). He is currently working at Juster Pope Frazier Architects in Northampton. Jeremy has been practicing sustainable design for over 20 years, specializing in highly energy-efficient construction methods, passive solar design, natural renewable materials, and renewable energy alternatives, with the goal of creating inspiring buildings which have a positive impact on their surroundings and occupants.
Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency students are encouraged to take advantage of our internship program which provides valuable, hands-on experience and learning in the green industry. Currently available internships are listed below. Learn more about the internship program and process at our internship site.
The Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency program has associated certificates that can “stack” into the degree. Depending on course selection, if you’re enrolled in this program you can earn one of the following certificates halfway through completing your degree:
These programs are a great way to increase your earning power and job potential with a marketable career certificate while you’re still working toward your degree. Work closely with your advisor to make sure you choose the right classes!
Learn more about our degree and certificate and pathways »