The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

December 21, 2011

DACC hopes to turn greener

School to develop new curriculum

DANVILLE — Danville Area Community College will become “greener” in the next few years, with the college becoming more energy efficient and developing a green jobs curriculum.

DACC learned last month it will share a three-year $19.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative and the Illinois Green Economy Network.

On Tuesday, the DACC board approved entering into an intergovernmental agreement that establishes the Illinois Green Economy Network and approved participating in energy-efficiency group-purchasing projects with IGEN.

IGEN is a partnership of all 39 Illinois community college districts and 48 campuses. IGEN works with businesses and local communities to grow Illinois’ green economy and provide new employment opportunities and healthy communities for all.

The federal grant funds will be distributed among the 17 IGEN hub colleges, including DACC, which will work cooperatively to develop certificates and degrees for green economy workforce training.

“It all evolves around dislocated workers and training them for green jobs,” said Bruce Rape, DACC’s Dean of Business and Technology, in describing IGEN.

DACC will receive $416,404 during a three-year period to develop a hybrid manufacturing program, as well as a hybrid wind energy technician program in partnership with Highland Community College in Freeport.

“We’re going to put some of our wind energy classes online,” Rape said. “That’s why we’re calling it a hybrid because they would still have to do hands-on training.”

Additionally, DACC will use the funds as one of five community colleges selected to host an IGEN regional coordinator.

The regional coordinator would develop communications, strategies and pathways to connect community colleges in its region with local, regional and statewide business and industry partners.

The regional coordinator would be responsible for identifying and coordinating advisory councils, industry partners and curriculum development teams for the region.

Earlier this year, DACC also received $45,000 from an IGEN/Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity state grant to establish a sustainability center on campus.

DACC is one of 20 sustainability centers located at community colleges across Illinois. The sustainability centers will support the IGEN mission and goals around the state.

Rape said the state grant also will fund a sustainability coordinator.

“That person will be coordinating all of our green activities and green curriculum and make the college a more environmentally friendly place,” he said.

Another facet of the IGEN initiative is energy-efficiency group-purchasing projects.

“We’ve been looking at ways of reducing electric and gas usage on campus,” Rape said.

Community colleges in the IGEN network will be able to jointly purchase energy-saving equipment, such as lighting upgrades and energy-efficient light bulbs, at a discount.

“We had an energy audit completed a couple years ago and came up with a list of energy-saving items,” Rape said.

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