The Sustainable Practices Program at the University of Colorado Boulder offers individual courses and a sustainability management certificate to help workers and job seekers meet the growing need for green knowledge and credentials in the workplace.

“This is a mega-trend, similar to electrification or manufacturing,” said program manager Kelly Simmons. “The public and private sectors are realizing that sustainability-driven practices make constituents happier and save money, in addition to the obvious boon of helping to protect the environment.”

About 290 people have enrolled in CU’s Sustainable Practices Program since its 2007 inception, including a journalist who now covers the smart-grid energy system, and professionals updating their credentials in LEED standards—a U.S. benchmark for green building design, construction and operation. The program is open to the public.

Chris Berry, a former mayor of Lafayette, earned a professional certificate from the program last year and now works for Trane, an international energy-services company.

“The Sustainable Practices Program gave me a boost on my resume that helped me move into the kind of work that I wanted to do, where there’s a lot of opportunity,” said Berry. “I use what I learned in class to talk with public, private and nonprofit groups about sustainability—making assessments, planning and how to get things done. The groups are very interested in energy and water conservation to reduce their carbon footprint and save money.

“I think there are success stories throughout the Sustainable Practices Program in terms of participants and how they’ve been able to use the training to further their careers,” he said. “Mine is definitely one of them.”

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment this fall selected the CU-Boulder program as an official provider of green jobs training for Coloradans.

Among an array of statewide sustainability training opportunities, CU-Boulder’s program is the only public university offering for which participants may receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funding. Some scholarships remain for Coloradans interested in the statewide programs, which can be applied for through state workforce centers.