By Bob Gilleskie
According to Clean Edge, a leading clean technology marketing and research firm, clean technology, or clean tech, is any product, service or process that harnesses renewable materials and energy sources, reduces the use of non-renewable natural resources, and cuts or eliminates emissions and wastes. Clean Edge also breaks down clean tech into the following major categories: 1) clean energy, 2) clean transportation, 3) clean water and 4) advanced materials. Each of these, in turn, includes more specific – and more familiar – areas of interest. For example, under advanced materials, there are green building materials, recycling and waste management.
Why clean technology? The growing interest in clean tech stems largely from a renewed concern for environmental issues, chief of which is the essentially undisputed evidence of climate change caused by burning fossil fuels. Similarly, thanks to Rachel Carson’s "Silent Spring," and other books on what using these fuels has done to the air we breathe and water we drink, there is greater interest in renewable energy and other clean fuels.
Market growth of green energy companies (CELS), energy grid infrastructure (QGRD) and the S&P 500
The other reason for the interest in clean tech is that it just makes good economic sense. Whether it be the reduced operating costs of green buildings, savings from recycling glass and aluminum or reduced costs of reclaimed water, clean energy technologies almost invariably show a positive return on investment And this is reflected in both job creation and growth of the ‘green economy’. The figure shows this by comparing three market indices for 2013: one showing the growth of electrical grid infrastructure (QGRD), another showing the growth of the S&P 500 and another showing the growth of green energy companies (CELS). Clearly, green energy has shown more significant growth than conventional energy infrastructure or the market as a whole.
In response to this growing interest in, and promising economic future of, clean tech, UC San Diego Extension is offering a course on "Clean Energy - Clean Technology," beginning this winter quarter. The course consists of three parts covering an overview of the major clean tech topics: energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean technology. Each segment of the course is facilitated by a different instructor, each having considerable experience in the specific subject area.
Anyone who is interested in deepening their knowledge on sustainability or exploring a possible career path in the green economy is welcome to enroll. Students interested in pursuing the full Sustainable Business Practices Certificate may apply for a $3,000 scholarship provided by SDG&E, which covers the majority of the program costs. Applications for the winter scholarship are due Tuesday, December 10th.