As little as a decade ago if someone offered you the opportunity to earn a green college degree you may have questioned the rationale of rewarding thousands of dollars in tuition and endless hours of study time with a moldy diploma.

Ten eco-consciously lived years later you undoubtedly can ascertain that a green college degree is one that is environmentally aware, a degree  that will likely lead to career opportunities in one of the numerous areas of the still expanding Green Industry.  (You have sure gotten smart in the past ten years, you should reward yourself with a crunchy taco ASAP!)

Tragedies such as the most recent oil spill in the Gulf, serve to highlight urgency of creating a more sustainable way of living worldwide.  This urgency is being met by colleges and universities across the country by a noticeable spike in the number and variety of green majors which are being offered  over the past few years. While many of these institutions have been offering eco-minded courses for decades, these new additions to the curriculum are of note because they broaden the scope of where this eco knowledge can be considered applicable.

If you thought that environmental careers were limited to Scientist or can collector, you have been sadly misinformed. Eco-friendly degrees and the career paths they inspire can be as varying and unique as your more run of the mill degrees. (Philosophy majors, I am looking at you. Sorry that they have not discovered a way to make droning on and on  more eco-friendly, for the time being you are certified ROTM- “Run of the mill” for you folks playing at home. I kid, you need to philosophize how to take a joke! Zing.)

Environmental Law Degrees: If you have always fantasized about objecting to a hostile witness or having a side bar with an intense no-nonsense judge, you do not have to flush your aspirations down the dream toilet just because of your  environmental ethics. Green Lawyers are in high demand due to increases in environmental policies and the arguments that these new policies can sometimes entail. “You want the green…you can’t handle the green!” You may want to practice yelling that, just in case.

Environmental Engineering Degrees
: If you plan on coasting through college on your beer pong skills and good looks alone this complex degree is not for you. The  intricate learning process  of becoming an Environmental Engineer includes fully understanding the intricacies of  numerous environmental factors, including :water and air pollution control, waste disposal, recycling public health concerns and comprehending the environmental impact of future construction projects. This focus of study is offered at prestigious schools such as MIT, which does not stand for “May I Take… that test later?” Serious candidates need only apply. Don’t worry, I am sure a degree in Environmental Beer Chugging will come about eventually.

Environmental Health Science Degree
: If you, like Whitney Houston, are a firm believer that the children are the future you may be interested in pursuing a degree that helps you understand the role the environment plays in the health of humans. Your work will not only ensure that these mystery children in question live to see the future, but you will assist in the wellness of general public by making sure that their environment is one they can healthily thrive in.

Sustainable Business Degrees
: If your first words as a baby were, “Buy low, sell high!” you don’t have to squash your aspirations of being a true wheeler and dealer of the business world to leave your pesky environmentally conscious side appeased. Now you can learn how to manage business affairs with a mind for the environment and a knowledge of key sustainable principles that will help you run an ethical company that will leave you saying, “Buy used, sell sustainable!”

Countless other Green Majors are currently available or in the process of being developed. In 2007 Arizona State University introduced its School of Sustainability, which offers both Bachelors and Graduate degrees of Science and Art in the area of sustainability. Green Education is not limited to four-year degrees, many schools offer certificate programs, such as  Kalamazoo Valley Community College of Michigan which has a twenty-four week program that trains people in having the skills to operate wind turbines.

No matter what focus is chosen, green degrees allow students to prepare for not only their futures, but the future of the world- one in which the environment is no longer ignored or seen as inconsequential but is treated with the respect it deserves.

-Meghan Hurley

One of the United States’ most exciting alternative-energy events, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, is about to kick off in Washington DC!  Starting October 9th (and ending the 18th), 20 teams of college and university students, hailing from such diverse corners as Kentucky and Germany, will be competing to design, build and operate their very own solar-powered houses.  The goal is to make them as energy-efficient as possible while still being aesthetically pleasing and practical to live in. In fact, one of our very own at Autonomie Project is down in DC competing himself. Kevin will be representing Boston Architectural College and Tufts University through designing and constructing the Curio House.

The Decathlon is split into three phases: first, the teams put their collective brains together to design their homes using high-tech solutions in unique ways, and then raise the funds and coordinate with contractors to build them.  Next, each team must disassemble their house, transport it to the national Mall in DC and reassemble it.  Finally, the competition begins as each team and home is evalutaed in ten different areas: architecture, market viability, engineering, lighting design, communications, comfort zone, hot water, appliances, home entertainment and net metering (reading how much energy the home consumes over the course of the competition). The juries assessing each area are compromised of scholars and working professionals at the head of their particular field.

This is the fourth Decathlon, the others having occurred previously at intervals of two years.  The contest is always growing, involving more students and universities, and the event brings more than 100,000 people out each time to walk among and interact with the teams and their homes. This is a very special chance to venture into a world that may very well reflect the needs and hopes of a future in crisis. If you have the chance, we highly recommend you take it and go get lost in the solar village!  All of the above information and much more can be found on the event website. We want to send our special thanks to the members of the Curio House and we wish Kevin and the rest the best of luck!

“We can’t do this anymore.”, writes New York Times writer Thomas Friedman in a recent op-ed article.

manufacturingspaceballFriedman reference is to our recent economic ideologies that have landed us in smack in the middle of an unprecedented global recession. He continues, “We must have growth, but we must grow in a different way. For starters, economies need to transition to the concept of net-zero, whereby buildings, cars, factories and homes are designed not only to generate as much energy as they use but to be infinitely recyclable in as many parts as possible. Let’s grow by creating flows rather than plundering more stocks.”

wallmart

In the past, economic recessions often been met with sullen struggling at the level of the individual, to ‘weather the storm’ in order to maintain remnants of a quality of life threatened by a suddenly merciless economic environment. However, Friedman’s point raises question about how we face these economic doldrums and the fundamental choices we have as individuals, especially in our present context. Instead of trying to find meager ways to maintain our quality of life’, Friedman is essentially asking us to reinvent our systems, our way of thinking, to align closer to the quality of life we should be living. Ultimately, could this recession be an opportunity to provide a more full existence to our daily grind?

Today, more than ever before, our collective history, global identity and advances in technology have paved the way to answer this question in a way to create a new kind of economic ‘recession’. Instead of wallowing in the gloom, we can realize that we are poised to turn potential for global suffering into milestone for human civilization, one that opens up new and creative ways to live in balance with the world. Even better, the economy is already moving to meet you halfway! Where there was once a prolific need to feed the conspicuously consuming machine, now there is a burgeoning job market specifically geared to promoting a sustainable world. As individuals, this means we are all tasked now to take control of our way of life, and realign it with the fundamental principles of the world around us.

3328055815_f531056d21In a recent online article by CNN, there is clear reason to start seeing if a job in renewable energy is something you might consider. Aside from an $11 billions being earmarked specifically to help people move toward homes using on renewable energy, job creation focusing on long term technologies such as fuel-cells is currently on the rise.

At fastcompany.com, similar rumblings are becoming clearer. Specifically, they reveal the growing need for jobs in sustainable practices, not just renewable energy. They list out green jobs likely to grow in numbers for the next decade, from more locally-based farmers, urban planners focused on lowering overall city carbon production, and more closed-loop manufacturers focused solely on creating an industry for active recycling.

And in case you are wondering what green jobs are the top ten to grab, here’s a list of the top ten:

pv-installer1-Conservation Biologist

2-Farmer Forester

3-Solar Power Installer

4-Energy Efficiency Builder

5-Wind Turbine Manufacturer

6-Conservation biologist

7-Green MBA and Entrepreneur

8-Recylcer Sustainability

9-Systems Developer

10-Urban Planner

button_red_signpetition1

More and more bad news keeps coming out about the state of our economy. With fourth quarter retail sales low, real estate continuing to plummet, and job loss at its highest since the last recession in 1993. This news may be staggering but don’t let it get you down! Let it mobilize you! Sign the petition to push this package through Congress today!

08obama2-500On January 8th, President Elect Obama urged Congress to push forth is economic stimulus plan. This plan is not just money being thrown at a problem. It has real hope for a move to the green economy. Some of the details of this plan include, doubling the production of alternative energy in the next 3 years, having medical records go electronic: saving energy and jobs, modernizing and weatherizing 75% of federal buildings, improve energy efficiency in millions of homes, updating thousands of schools, colleges, and universities, investing in science and technology, and creating millions of new GREEN JOBS! 

This stimulus package may get out economy back on its feet and its no question it will create a shift in our current economic practices. The only problem now is getting Congress to act! Obama had hoped the bill would be sitting on his new desk ready to sign on January 20th, but it looks unlikely at this point. Of course conservatives and lobbyists for big energy are attacking the bill. Some conservatives in Congress want to see tax breaks rather than investment. Which may seem like a great idea, but their current plan has breaks for the super rich and hardly benefits the middle and working classes. The lobbyists for big energy are trying to stop the bill from passing in order to stop green energy and jobs from being created!

Never worry though, because YOU can take action! MoveOn.org has created a petition to urge Congress members not to listen to lobbyists and to take action on this package. The petition states: “Congress should quickly pass Obama’s plan to invest in clean energy, green jobs, health care, and relief for struggling states. No more tax cuts for the rich.”

button_red_signpetition2So please if you believe in a shift to a green economy or hope to help our US economy, take the few seconds to sign the petition! Its a quick and easy way to be involved in your country’s actions. Because our responsibilities as citizens doesn’t stop on election day! We all took a second to sign, so we are urging you to do the same. PLEASE SIGN! And if you want to be involved even more, organize an event in your area or re-post this on your blogs or social sites!

With reports issued today that the US economy is going to get much worse this year and even into 2010, the news and media paints a chilling picture for the New Year. While most of us might react with uncertainty and worry, there is one sector of the economy that remains hopeful: the Green Economy. Many Greenies are seeing this downturn as an opportunity to change and re shape the American economy. For example, with the American auto industry failing, it is an amazing chance for them to focus on electric, hybrid, and other new eco-friendly technologies. In fact a shift such as this could retool the entire industry.

The GreenBiz published a great article recently about Green economists optimistic view of 2009. It pushes the idea that many businesses are continuing green changes, yet  everyone is pulling in the reins on spending rather than expanding. Still as we mentioned above, this recession is a chance to incorporate real changes to business. The GreenBiz Blog has also announced they plan on featuring articles related to the recession. So keep up with the green take on the recession on their blog as well as ours!

Co-op America has now officially changed over to Green America and they have suggested a few ideas on how green can change the economy. Check out their recently published 7 Fixes from the Green Economy. Within this article, ecomomy240w1they focus on suggestions to revamping and saving the American economy. There are several suggestions we’ve heard before like creating new green jobs and supporting local and fair trade. But there are also some inventive new ideas such as instituting Clean Energy Victory Bonds similar to those instituted in World War II and Community investing. These are the types of articles that need to be pushed forth during these trying times. While the mainstream media pushes fear and negativity, the green world is suggesting real ideas and a focus on the positive. After all the best way to jump start the economy is all in the perception.

You may be wondering with all this talk about recession and economic changes, how will you survive? Green America once again published some great little tips on how to save money during these trying times: 4 Ways to Save Money! The tips they offer are: Cooperative Meals, Build a Community of your Neighbors and Pool Resources, Carpool with friends or neighbors, and Barter and Trade for your needs. While these are great ideas to keep money in your pocket, they aren’t the exact answer to our country’s economic woes as a whole. Green America plans on focusing on saving money through being green in 2009. So pay attention for more great saving ideas!

So remember even if the news won’t let you forget we are in a troubling economy, try to keep your heads up and focus on the new economy coming our way. Keep putting pressure on our politicians to promote a green economy through organizations like Power Vote and Green Jobs Now. Or keep the green economy in the public sphere, by posting on your blogs, Myspace, and Facebook. The more we talk about the ideas for a change in our economy, the better chance we have of accomplishing it!

Although in earlier posts we mentioned that our company has not openly supported a specific candidate over another, upon many nights of research, we have decided to officially endorse the Obama campaign!! After looking over countless articles and reading Obama and Biden’s beliefs, choices, and plans for our country, it has become clear that their views are very much in line with the views and vision of Autonomie Project.

We feel that this election is too close for comfort and is of such historical significance that we must do everything we can, as individuals and as a company, to support our chosen candidate.  That includes educating you, beloved readers, on the issues that matter most to us and how Obama and Joe Biden plan to help.  So read away, and let us know if you agree!

  1. Investment and Creation of 5 Million Green Jobs: AP applauds Obama’s support of the Green economy. Obama believes that one of the keys to boosting the economy and improving the environment is the development of a robust Green Market sector that would provide millions of jobs to replace the millions we are losing due to volatile capital markets, all while making our planet a healthier place.
  2. Support for Small Business and Start Ups: This one hits especially close to home, as AP is barely a year old and needs all the start-up help we can get!  We are just a few friends on a mission to spread the word of Fair Trade through organic fashions. Obama’s plan provides tax relief to small businesses so that innovation (like ours!) can be encouraged and new jobs created.  He also supports funding for incubators of start ups in disadvantaged communities.
  3. Worker’s Rights: Obviously labor and worker’s rights are very important to us at Autonomie. Obama has called to raise the minimum wage and to end the use of replacement workers when a union is on strike.  He also wants to push forth the Employee Free Choice Act protecting workers’ rights to organize.
  4. New Energy for America: This is the phrase Obama has used to describe his energy and environmental plan. Highlights of the plan include a move to reduce green house gases by 80%; develop an American-made, plug-in hybrid car market that will put 1 million hybrid cars on the road by 2015; end our addiction to foreign oil; and to push forth a plan to implement alternative energy as a source for electricity in American homes.
  5. A Responsible End to the Iraq War: It’s no question at this point that the Iraq War was a mistake and is eating up billions of American taxpayer money. Obama is calling for a responsible withdrawal of troops and plans to focus on finding the real people behind the 9-11 attacks.

These are just a few of the key issues we see eye-to-eye with Obama and are the reasons why we have chosen to not only vote for him as individuals, but to endorse him as a company!  Please stay informed, volunteer for the campaign, and realize this is the most important election for our generation. The choices we make on November 4th will affect our country and the world for us and our future generations.

The choice is ours. Let’s make real change together! OBAMA-BIDEN 2008!

As a follow up to the ongoing debates and the VP Green Report we published last week, we want to examine presidential candidates views on the environment. We figured since we covered the vice presidential candidates we would give the main attractions some lip service. Both Obama and McCain have very different plans for our country on a number of issues. Here at Autonomie, we wanted to highlight their ideas and history on both the environment and energy policies. So here we go:

As we mentioned before, here at Autonomie Project we are not endorsing a particular candidate but will be voting with the ticket that best meets our values as individuals and as a company.

John McCain:

  • Co-sponsored the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007, which caps pollution to 2004 levels by 2012, although only in utilities, industry, and transportation.
  • He has proposed a Cap and Trade Policy that would set a limit of greenhouse production and create a market where ability to emit pollution would be traded. Believing that the lower cost energy production would succeed. The reduction for the cap are set to the following: reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Barack Obama:

  • Obama has stated he intends to keep the federal ban in place on offshore drilling, as well as drilling in Alaska. However, during the course of the campaign he has said he will consider it; stating “…we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done.”
  • He also believes a cap and trade system is the key to cutting emissions. His plan calls to reduce emissions 80 percent below 1990 rates by 2050 and emission permits would be up for sale, causing polluters to pay for the amount of greenhouse gases they emit.
  • Obama has been a strong supporter of developing new types of alternative energy and has introduced his New Energy for America plan which would not only fund new research for alternative energy, but also provide short term releif for middle America.
  • He has called for the creation and funding for hybrid and new cleaner car emissions research and devolopment. In fact, to fund this he introduced the Heath Care for Hybrids Act, this asks the American auto industry to produce and devlop more efficient hybrids in exchange for the government taking care of retired auto workers heath insurance. He is proposing to get 1 million Plug-In Hybrids on the road by 2015.
  • Cosponsored the Coal to Liquid Fuel Production Act of 2007 which used high energy to convert coal into liqued fuel, which is quite damaging to the environment. Many environmentalists opposesed this bill. However, Obama has since stated that he will only support coal energy if it emits 20 percent less carbon than traditional fuels.

So there you have it: a quick rundown of the key issues both Obama and McCain support regarding the environment. Now its up to you to decide who has a better plan for the environment, energy, and the future of our nation!! The choice is yours.

This is a re-printed letter from Co-op America, that we find extremely important! It takes just a few minutes to send out letters to all the candidates in this election, Presidential and local. We just did it ourselves! So make sure your environmental concerns are addressed and click on the Take Action Button today!!!!!!

Over the course of this campaign, we’ve heard a lot of talk about oil pipelines in Alaska, “drill, baby, drill,” and even an unfortunate embrace of so-called “clean coal” technology, though no form of coal is ever truly “clean.”

With less than one month to go before Election Day, we need to let our candidates know we’re demanding a comprehensive, modern, green energy policy that will put this country back on the right path in more ways than one.

Right now, we can launch a new green energy plan for the US that is intentionally designed to meet five urgent needs at once. We can:

  1. tackle the rising price of fuel, a hardship for many American families,
  2. transition the US away from its dependence on foreign oil,
  3. push back against the perils of climate change, and
  4. reverse rising unemployment rates, which reached a five-year high in September.
  5. create real investment into our economy that will counter the ongoing Wall Street meltdown, and its impact on Main Street.

While Co-op America members have been making green-energy changes in their lives for many, many years, the time is NOW for a major system change.

We’re challenging each of you to come together with us and tell all presidential and congressional candidates that our country is ready for a clean energy infrastructure that makes it easier to live green.

All of our candidates need to be reminded that if we do this – if we implement a comprehensive green energy policy that calls for energy efficiency, cleaner cars, and renewable solar and wind power –  we’ll ALL reap the rewards of a cleaner environment, reinvigorated economy, and more secure future.

When you click through to take our action, you’ll be prompted for your ZIP code, which will bring up all congressional and presidential candidates running for office in your area.  Then you can add your own personal touch to our editable message, urging all of the candidates to endorse a greener energy platform.  Please take this urgent action today.

Send your message to the candidates now »

For background on Co-op America’s clean-energy recommendations, check our latest editorial, in which we debunk the myths that can discourage progress on green energy, and outline the components that any elected leader should have in her or his energy policy.  (Please post it widely online, send it to your local paper, and otherwise help us get the word out.)

Then, click through to our action page for more information on what should NOT be included in our energy policy (off-shore drilling, oil-and-gas subsidies, new coal plants, risky nuclear plants), before using our form to send your own message to Congress.

Thanks for joining with us to keep this critical issue at the top of our leaders’ minds, as we push for action now, and under the new administration in 2009.

Here’s to all you do,
Alisa (signature)
Alisa Gravitz, Executive Director, Co-op America

P.S. Clean energy news: The solar energy tax credits were extended for eight years as part of legislation signed into law on October 3.  You can now get 30% tax credits for solar installed on your home or business – without a cap on the amount of the credit.  Thanks to all of our members who joined with us in pushing for these tax credits!

With the election coming up and the candidates are voicing their opinions on everything from abortion to the wars, and even evolution. So let’s make sure they talk about major issues affecting us all: the Environment and a Responsible Energy Plan. Power Vote is organizing thousands and hopefully millions of citizens and young people to make a Pledge that in November they will choose the candidate who will expand the green economy, as well as green jobs, cut down on pollution and dependence on “dirty energy” and create a sustainable energy policy. We want to welcome all of you to sign their pledge and join the movement!

Power Vote does not back any political party and works through grass roots movements to bring awareness to the candidates and Washington in general about the Green Movement and how it is important to the sustainability of our economy, job market, and planet!! This is the future of our country and  world, so please take a moment to check out Power Vote and sign the pledge.

Also, there are a ton of localized groups and events related to Power Vote throughout the country! You can also create a group and get involved in outreach. Think about getting involved and making sure both candidates hear the message.

A quick reminder that this Saturday, September 27th is Green Jobs Now Day of Action!! Let the country know how important Green Jobs are and demand whoever wins the election pay attention to our needs as the concerned youth of this nation!

As a follow up to last week’s, Top Veggie Friendly Colleges post we wanted to also suggest eco-friendly colleges. Many Universities are making changes not only to improve the environmental impact of the college itself, but also prepare a new generation to fill the Green Collar Market. So we have put together a list of Top Green Colleges! There are several different sources that have ranked Green Colleges based on their sustainable campus life, school policies, and green curriculum. We found four main rankings: Princeton Review, Grist, Sierra Club, and The Daily Green. We have used these lists as a guide and have come up with the following list (and we are proud that both our Alma Maters made the cut!):

Top Green Colleges

#1 Warren Wilson College: Amazingly this school has worked in the Green life into every aspect of the school. Not only do they have an amazing recycling program, but the school is self sufficient (sustainable farms and forest), and they even have soy fueled chainsaws and bio-diesel fuels!!

#2 Oberlin College: Oberlin college boasts a slew of Green programs and has made an active effort to reduce waste as well as educate. The campus has a car sharing program, supports locally produced food in its cafeteria, uses a ton of solar electricity, and their graduation ceremonies are completely eco-friendly including bio-degradable utensils and programs.

#3 Middlebury College: Not only does the Green activist Bill McKibben teach here, but this school has been very active in climate change. They have even put forth a plan to make the school carbon-neutral by 2016 as well as a state of the art recycling center. They even have energy saving competitions between dorms!!

#4 Harvard University: Harvard usually tops everyone’s academic and sports lists, but now they can add Green rankings to their impressive resume. Harvard has recently changed all school vehicles over to veggie fuel from the cafeteria, they have the MOST eco-friendly buildings certified by US Green Building Council, and is one of the largest purchaser of Green and Renewable energy.

#5 Duke University: Duke has now required all new buildings to be certified by the US Green Building Council and is making an active effort to improve their green energy through wind and hydro-power projects. They are also pushing a biking campaign and discouraging its students to use cars.

#6 University of New Hampshire: UNH located in Durham, NH boasts an Office of Sustainability and in 2009 80-85% of their energy will come from a landfill source. They have also developed an organic dairy farm and a Sustainable Horticulture department, where they work with children in the area on developing a new Green Generation.

#7 Tufts University: Tufts was the first university in the country to pass a green initiative and won the US Climate Change award in 2005. They are committed to meeting the demands of the Kyoto target for emmissions and continue to develop solar panels! Also, this is one of our Alma Maters!

#8 Universities of California: Ok. We realize this includes 10 schools, but if we evaluated all ten separately they may have taken over the list! Every campus in this system has made efforts to use renewable power by 2014, increase use of low- to zero-emission vehicles by at least 50 percent, and achieve zero waste by 2020!! Also each campus has their own initiatives they are focusing on: UC Davis (our other Alma Mater) has sustainable and organic agriculture programs, UC Berkeley has an all organic cafeteria, and UCLA has really pushed the bicycling movement.

#9 Yale University: Yale has developed a superior alternative energy plan including: solar, wind, and geothermal energy produced on campus. They also promote using biofuels in cars and have incentives to employees who use a carpool system. And lastly they have developed a new school of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

#10 Evergreen State College: This public school hosts a large organic farm complete with composting facility. On top of this, the school purchases only 100% clean power, is in the process of switching to electric cars, and is building Green Buildings for future use.

Bummed that your school didn’t make the cut??  Well then take matters into your own hands!  It is after all the power of the student body itself that can have the most influence over university administration, so start talking to your professors and university staff and start making positive changes on your campus today!

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