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Sustainability Technologies

Building Performance. Urban Infrastructure. Renewable Energy. Learn how to use the technologies of today to create a better world for tomorrow.

The Sustainability Technologies program is a unique and flexible curriculum designed to meet the challenges of the new clean energy economy. The program's three focus areas – Building Performance, Urban Infrastructure, and Renewable Energy – overlap to provide a technology-oriented degree that emphasizes management-level skills along with hands-on training using the latest equipment.

Graduates of the Associate in Applied Science Degree have the comprehensive knowledge to be competitive in many industries including construction, energy auditing, energy management, weatherization, facilities management, home inspection, water, stormwater, solar, wind, solar thermal, waste, environmental, consulting, sales and non-profit. The program is connected to the community and has relationships with many local businesses, non-profits, and governments. In addition, a number of college transfer opportunities exist for students wishing to continue their education, including great transfer programs with Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, and NC State University. You can save a ton of money by taking classes at CFCC before transferring to one of these universities to obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Curriculum Information

Sustainability Technologies, A.A.S. (A40370)
Sustainability Technologies Certificate (C40370)
Sustainability Technologies, Building Performance Certificate (C40370S)
Sustainability Technologies, Renewable Energy Technology Certificate (C40370R)

Related Information

Quick Facts
  • CFCC’s program is one of only four Sustainability Technologies A.A.S. degree programs in North Carolina. Very few community colleges outside of North Carolina have a degree program in sustainability. Most sustainability programs exist at the bachelor and post-doctorate levels, with an emphasis on environmental studies. With its focus on building performance, infrastructure, and energy, CFCC’s Sustainability Technologies program is one of the most unique academic programs in North Carolina and the entire nation.
  • Graduate Success: According to the most recent graduate employment survey, 100% of Sustainability Technologies graduates reported that they were employed full-time in the industry or were continuing their education at a higher level.
  • While most students are from North Carolina, students have moved from all over the United States to attend CFCC’s Sustainability Technologies program, including from Alaska, Hawaii, and California.
  • North Carolina ranks 9th in the nation for total clean energy jobs. There are over 88,000 energy efficiency jobs in North Carolina. (source: NC Sustainable Energy Association).
  • North Carolina ranks 3rd in the nation for solar photovoltaic capacity, behind only California and Texas. There are over 8,000 solar jobs in North Carolina and over 200 solar companies. (sources: NC Sustainable Energy Association and Solar Energy Industries Association).
University Transfer Programs
Sustainability Technologies is Ideal for University Transfer

The CFCC Sustainability Technologies program is an ideal starting point for a University bachelor’s or master’s degree. Students receive both general knowledge and technical applied skills while at CFCC and at the same time accrue credits that can be used for university transfer. Graduates of Sustainability Technologies can work with the university of their choice to maximize their credit transfer opportunities, or they can take advantage of one of the two partner programs that provide a smooth and highly productive transfer pathway:

  • Appalachian State University Department of Sustainable Technology & the Built Environment is the premier university-level building performance and sustainable energy program in North Carolina. App State provides over 60 hours of transfer credit to CFCC Sustainability Technologies A.A.S. graduates. For more information download this flyer.
  • East Carolina University College of Engineering and Technology offers the Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology Transfer Program to CFCC Sustainability Technologies A.A.S. graduates. Up to 62 hours of CFCC coursework can be applied toward the BSIT degree. For more information download this flyer.
Frequently Asked Questions

What are the employment opportunities for graduates of the Sustainability Technologies program?

The Sustainability Technologies program prepares students for a diverse range of career opportunities. Many graduates work on new home construction sites or on existing homes as energy raters or energy efficiency technicians. Others work for utilities and utility contractors that provide energy services, water and stormwater services, and energy assessments to homeowners and small businesses. Construction companies hire graduates to work at job sites or in an office performing installation, inspection, supervision, or construction management tasks. Graduates can start a career in the solar industry by becoming solar installers, solar system designers, solar sales associates, or solar operations and maintenance technicians. Do you want to work in the wind industry? One graduate of CFCC Sustainability Technologies works on a wind farm!

Stormwater technicians work outside to install and maintain systems that manage rainwater, such as ponds, bio-retention systems, and green roofs. Opportunities may exist in the waste management, recycling, and composting industries that promote diverting waste away from landfills. Do you think you have the skills to be in sales? If so there are sales opportunities in many building- and energy-related fields. Some students have taken advantage of the multi-disciplinary nature of the Sustainability Technologies program to become electrical apprentices and HVAC technicians. Gaining an understanding of how buildings operate can lead to opportunities in home inspection, facilities management, and engineering support.

Our graduates work for small companies like Above and Beyond Energy, medium-sized companies like Southern Energy Management, or for large corporations like Duke Energy, Corning, and Tesla! Other graduates work for local governments, schools, and non-profit organizations. There is a lot of flexibility with a degree in Sustainability Technologies!

Are there any certifications built into the program?

Certifications allow students to demonstrate competence in a subject to potential employers. The following certifications are offered in the program. Most are free to students but some have a modest student fee:

  • LEED Green Associate (fee)
  • NABCEP PV Associate (fee)
  • NABCEP Solar Heating Associate (fee)
  • OSHA Construction Safety
  • NC3 Snap-On Multimeter
  • NC3 Data Analytics
  • S/P2 Safety and Pollution Prevention
  • ISO 14001 Awareness
  • Fortified Roofing Awareness
  • Backflow Prevention Awareness
  • ACI Concrete Field Testing

Does the program provide flexibility in the manner in which it is completed?

Yes! While there are a handful of prerequisites in the program, most courses can be completed in any sequence. In addition to the Associate in Applied Science Degree, there are three Certificates made up of just five classes each: the Sustainability Technologies Certificate, the Building Performance Certificate, and the Renewable Energy Technology Certificate. The Certificates are a great option for dual-enrollment students or for students with previous degrees. Graduates who achieve the A.A.S. degree automatically achieve all three Certificates.

Is there a selective admissions process to enter the Sustainability Technologies program?

No! The Sustainability Technologies program is an open-enrollment program.

Do I have to start the program in the fall semester?

No! The program can be started in any semester.

Where will my classes take place?

Most face-to-face classes will be held at CFCC's North Campus, where the Sustainability Technologies program has a dedicated classroom, lab, rooftop terrace lab, and computer lab. Elective courses and cross-curriculum courses will be held in other locations at North Campus or occasionally at CFCC’s Downtown Campus. In addition, the program includes many tours, field trips, attendance at conferences, and other off-campus activities at various locations around the community.

What supplies and materials do I need to have?

Students are responsible for purchasing books, a calculator, and general school supplies. A computer with internet access is required to utilize online course materials. Students can use the computers at the CFCC campus libraries.

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is the ability to manage the resources – materials, energy, buildings, food, water, transportation, infrastructure, waste management, health, education, finances, etc. – in a manner that ensures a thriving community and healthy environment, while also ensuring that these will remain available for future generations.

How do you study sustainability?

Sustainability is only a concept, and so it can seem vague. The focus of this program is not on sustainability per se but on the technologies upon which it depends. Achieving sustainability requires high-performance buildings, abundant clean energy, resilient infrastructure, clean water, healthy food, efficient transportation networks, responsible waste management, and thriving natural ecosystems. These are the focus areas of the program.

What is Building Performance?

Building Performance is the optimization of the energy efficiency, health, and environmental performance of buildings. Building performance is based on building science principles, quantifiable green building strategies, and field inspection and testing. Building performance outcomes can be achieved throughout all phases of the construction, operation, and maintenance of buildings. The building performance industry is a thriving industry of professionals in many fields including energy raters, weatherization technicians, insulation installers, HVAC specialists, electricians, landscaping and stormwater contractors, and product manufacturers.

What is Urban Infrastructure?

Urban Infrastructure is the network of systems that promote public health and productivity, while also preserving the health of the environment. Urban infrastructure systems include drinking water treatment and distribution, sewage treatment, stormwater control, transportation networks, waste management, recycling, air pollution control, and noise mitigation.

What is Renewable Energy?

Renewable Energy is energy created from resources that are naturally replenished on a human timescale. Renewable energy technologies include solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, wind turbines, hydroelectric dams, micro-hydro turbines, geothermal heat pumps, biomass stoves, biofuels, and fuel cells.
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