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More people are becoming aware of the harmful effects that carbon dioxide emissions and excess water use can have on the environment. As a result, many are beginning to incorporate sustainable practices into their daily lives. These practices can more often be found in the workplace, as well as in college, university and technical school courses that are part of campus and distance learning programs.

Choosing an online degree program can be one way that students who are concerned about the environment can cut down on their carbon emissions. Since they don't have to drive to classes, they can help the environment on a day-to-day basis. However, those looking to take this passion one step further can consider a technology degree, many of which are taking on a sustainability focus.

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At Rainy River Community College in Minnesota, for example, an associate degree program in Green and Sustainable Construction Technology offers students opportunities to learn how technologies can decrease a building's waste and increase its efficiency when it comes to energy and water resources. New York City College of Technology offers a Sustainable Technology certificate program where students can analyze the life cycle costs of new high-tech materials, alternative energy systems and new construction methods. Central Carolina Community College this year is planning a new associate's degree in Sustainable Technology, with focuses on alternative energy and green building.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology is a private, non-profit organization that works to promote sustainable technology systems, particularly those in energy and agriculture. The center hosts workshops and events and counts a University of Idaho Biodiesel Fuel Education program as well as Salish Kootenai College in Montana among its partners. Oregon Institute of Technology in 2009 changed its Environmental Sciences bachelor's degree program to a new Environmental Sciences/Sustainable Technology program, where students take courses in renewable energy engineering, mechanical engineering technologies, civil engineering and business management, an article in The Oregonian noted.

In addition to helping students gain a competitive advantage, with workplace settings that are more often taking concerns about the environment into account, courses in sustainable technologies are designed to meet the growing demands of companies involved in the field of environmentally-friendly systems, the New York City College of Technology notes. One of these systems has made news in the Nantucket, Mass., area. The Boston Globe recently reported that officials in the region gave the go-ahead to a controversial alternative energy project known as Cape Wind.

The Cape Wind initiative is intended to bring 130 wind turbines to the coast, creating many jobs and helping the state become a pioneer in employing clean, green technology to procure energy, according to the Boston Globe. Many opponents to the project felt that it would disturb the views from Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Others contended the move could help promote green energy and hopefully enhance the environment by helping to decrease reliance on fossil fuels such as coal and oil that release harmful gases into the environment.

Colleges, universities and technical schools themselves are also becoming more friendly with regard to the environment by employing green technologies. In 2009, some 166 green campus structures either opened or received awards and certifications such as the well-known Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) that recognizes measures to conserve water, reduce carbon dioxide and more, according to an annual report released in June by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Education. More recently, Northern California's Butte College, a national community college leader in sustainability located on a 928-acre wildlife refuge, announced that by May 2011 it would become the only institution in the country to produce more clean energy from sustainable, on-site solar power than it uses.

Sustainable technology credentials might help students find work as sustainability consultants, renewable energy or biofuels technicians and green building supervisors, according to Central Carolina Community College. With new developments in the sustainable energy industry, individuals may also find that they can take additional courses to complement an existing technology degree. Others might want to update their credentials.

Green-Minded Students Earning Environmental Degrees Online