SSU environmental grads in demand

NORTH BAY ? Elise Howard and Nicole Dorotinsky have been friends since kindergarten. They went to elementary school together and high school as well. They even earned the same double major from Sonoma State University in environmental studies and planning and economics.

And they are both research and program coordinators for the city of Santa Rosa utilities department.

Students who graduate with degrees in environmental studies are becoming more in demand as companies of all kinds look to hire people with knowledge of how processes and facilities impact the environment, and more importantly to many businesses, the bottom line.

Ted Tiffany is an energy and building performance modeling manager for Guttmann & Blaevoet Consulting Engineers in the firm?s Sebastopol office.

He makes computer models out of buildings with Energy Pro analysis software to improve the performance of the building with existing and new buildings, landscape design, lighting and industrial energy efficiency.

Mr. Tiffany graduated from SSU in 2000 and worked for the company that puts out Energy Pro. When in 2005 the Environmental Studies department needed an instructor, he came on as a part-time lecturer.

?A lot of other schools teach these courses on the graduate level,? Mr. Tiffany said. ?By training people in environmental studies at the bachelor?s level, we are preparing them for jobs. And they are in demand.?

He went on to say that businesses before couldn?t hire qualified people, but that programs like SSU?s are changing that.

The bachelor?s degree with a double major in economics and environmental studies and planning is, according to the SSU Web site, ?intended for those students whose particular academic and career interests lie in natural resources economics, economic planning, energy management and/or community development and redevelopment.?

Before finding out about this program, Ms. Howard originally wanted to do something in design and architecture but said she felt herself getting frustrated with students around her not having a succinct path.

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