Access and Opportunity
Community College of Philadelphia offers education for success in a changing world, and this is reflected not just in the success of its graduates but in its facilities as well. In planning the design and construction of additions to the Main Campus and Northeast Regional Center (NERC), great care was taken to create an ideal collaborative learning environment for students—and one that significantly reduces the College’s carbon footprint as well.
At the NERC, an elaborate system of some 220 geothermal wells serves different zones of the building, allowing for strategic, cost-effective heating and cooling. In addition, a heat recovery unit will transfer exhaust heat to preheat other areas of the building. These two sophisticated strategies will work in tandem to conserve both energy and funds.
A storm water management system includes a 10,000 gallon tank to retain and reuse rain water, a feature that will net the College a rebate from the Philadelphia Water Department. But the College isn’t just capturing and recycling storm water on its own property; it’s also accepting run-off water from surrounding lands in an effort to provide neighbors in the community with improved park lands to enjoy.
Air quality was also a major consideration when planning the new facilities. Carbon dioxide sensors are used to detect occupancy in instructional areas, and the amount of fresh air circulated through these areas is adjusted accordingly. Daylight is also harvested and directed according to changing needs, and in accordance with both daily and seasonal movement of the sun.
In addition to the cutting-edge systems that are part of the new construction design, the College is also taking simpler steps to go green. More than 90 percent of the construction debris is being recycled, and many of the interior furnishings of the completed facilities—including carpet and furniture—will be made of recycled materials.
All of these strategies contribute to smart buildings that demonstrate an internal commitment to students and faculty, and an external commitment to the community. By reducing operating costs, restricting practices that lead to global warming, and creating a customized, adaptive learning environment for its students, the College shows its extensive commitment to both environmental stewardship and educational leadership. The NERC is expected to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating, and the Main Campus Pavilion is expected to achieve the LEED Silver or Gold rating.
Green building is the wave of the future, and the College not only puts these principles into practice, but also teaches others to do the same. Corporate Solutions offers a series of Green Building Basics workshops focusing on such topics as energy use and conservation, building materials and indoor air quality. The sessions are taught by LEED-accredited professionals working in the industry. In addition, Corporate Solutions is partnering with Philadelphia’s Energy Coordinating Agency to offer training in weatherization.
The College’s Construction Management program also offers students an opportunity to learn about green building practices, among other important topics. Graduates of this program typically find work as estimators, surveyors, quality control supervisors, site inspectors and other positions that play key roles in the green economy. The time has never been better to take a green approach to building a career in construction.
Proficiency Certificates Provide Additional Option for Acquiring Valuable Skills
For many individuals, going to college while handling work and family responsibilities seems like an impossible task. Those who want to upgrade their skills for their current job, gain entry-level skills for a new field or just learn something new now have more choices when planning their education around their busy lives.
“People need alternative pathways to skills necessary for future careers and enhanced job opportunities,” said Sharon Thompson, associate vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of Liberal Studies.
Community College of Philadelphia offers more than 25 proficiency certificates in a variety of fields that allow students to take their education one step at a time instead of immediately enrolling in a degree program. After completing the certificate, students can apply the credit to a related degree. “You may choose to pursue an associate’s degree at the College or wait until a later time,” said Thompson. “Proficiency certificates are building blocks that you can use to ease into a college environment.”
Many of the courses provide skills that students can use immediately. Coleen Kinlin, who earned a Paralegal Studies degree in 2005, returned to the College to earn a proficiency certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Basics in December 2009.
As the claims coordinator in the city’s Solicitor’s Office, Kinlin can use her GIS knowledge to help the office administer services more efficiently.
“I wanted to remain valuable in the industry, and Community College of Philadelphia is the best way for me to do it because they offer evening courses and affordable classes,” said Kinlin. “There is so much to learn.”
Some proficiency certificates are designed to help individuals enter specific fields with projected growth, such as Patient Service Representative, Medical Insurance Billing, and Recovery and Transformation in Human Services.
“The Patient Service Representative certificate was created in response to a growing need in the health care industry. Hospitals contacted the College about creating a program to fill this need,” said Thompson.
Others may want to introduce different skills to their current occupation, qualify for a promotion or start their college education.
“Students can use these certificates to move up the career ladder. They can use the skills they learn to excel at work, and once they complete the certificate, go on to earn their associate’s degree and expand their career opportunities,” said Thompson.
The College also offers online, evening and weekend classes, giving students the flexibility of getting a college education around their schedule.
Additional proficiency certificates in Computer Forensics, LEED-certified Construction, Sound Recording and Music Technology, Process Technology II and Advanced Automotive Technology are in development.
This learning option can also assist employers who need to update the skills of their employees.
“A certificate is a great way for small businesses to enhance their technology skills,” said Thompson. “Employers will benefit from the competitive edge that knowledgeable employees bring to the workplace.”