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February 6, 2012 -- West Valley College Announces New Sustainability Internship

 A group of West Valley College interior design students won’t need to leave campus to put into practice their knowledge of sustainability thanks to a new internship program that integrates the college’s educational mission with its ongoing sustainability efforts.

Through the WVC LEED Internship Program, 18 students are kicking off spring semester by working with facilities staff members on various sustainability-related projects on campus.

“This program represents exactly what an educational institution should be doing: fostering the marriage between the classroom and its inherent theory with real life opportunities for learning through hands-on practical experiences,” said Lori Gaskin, president of West Valley College.

The students, who have taken at least one course in sustainable design, will earn three credits for the internship, which is part of the interior design department’s 12-unit sustainable design certificate. Associate faculty and internship coordinator Anna Harrison will oversee the students, who will work on one of four projects.

*Analyzing the district’s facility standards. The standards guide anything facility-related, from replacing carpets to switching out light bulbs, but they are not geared toward sustainability. Students will develop guidelines that consider sustainable options.

*Assisting with the campus’ energy efficiency master plan. Students will work with facilities staff on research and analysis for the master plan, which will prioritize the campus buildings to receive sub-meters so their individual energy usage can be tracked.

*Act as a “green team” for the renovation of the Applied Arts and Sciences building. Students will review construction documents and checklists for the renovation of the Language Arts Social Sciences building, which will be certified through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. They’ll use that information to offer input on the upcoming renovation of the Applied Arts and Science building, which is also slated to be LEED certified.

*Working with facilities staff to earn LEED certification on the Fox Center. This project continues the work a group of students conducted in a pilot version of the internship program; this semester, they will analyze which upgrades and changes make the most sense in pursuit of the certification.

Regardless of the project, the internship will require eight hours of work each week, Harrison said. It will be a rigorous effort, she said, but one that will benefit the campus and the design students, both now and in the future.

“With the combination of being in the field working with real projects and the classroom education, the educational impact is so much greater,” Harrison said. “I hope that by the end of the semester, students will understand these concepts more deeply and be able to move these sustainable concepts forward in their own careers with confidence and experience.”