“The Certificate in Sustainable Energy Solutions program and faculty exceeded my expectations. The courses were engaging, informative and I’ve been able to apply the lessons learned in class, demonstrating real impact within my organization.” – Stephan Prechtel, Territory Business Manager at Bristol Myers Squibb

Certificate in Sustainable
Energy Solutions

Wind EnergyThere are few sectors as dynamic and critical to our society as the energy industry. It supports the economy, enables advanced health care, information technologies and makes cheap transportation possible. Yet its complexities create risks that are hardly ever considered or discussed during critical business decision-making processes. This four-quarter, one-year graduate certification series will expose a student to the energy system and examine how energy-related issues weave themselves through the fabric of our society.


The program is taught by Jimmy Jia, CEO of Distributed Energy Management. An entrepreneur, Jimmy helps business owners manage a strategic utility budget that shifts wasted energy expenditures into business improvement projects. He is an engineer with degrees from MIT and an MBA from Oxford’s Said Business School. He is Chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Northwest and is a frequent speaker on the Smart Grid.

Special Guests

The class features many experts representing different industries. Past guests include:

  • Amory Lovins, Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute
  • Commissioner Jeffrey Goltz, Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission
  • Eddy Isaac, CEO Innovate Canada
  • Richard Kidd, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Energy & Sustainability)
  • Steven Tobias, Director of Strategy, National Grid
  • Michael Pesin, Technical Advisor, Seattle City Light
  • Mark Laughter, Nuclear Safeguards Inspector at IAEA

20120512_BGI_Island-Wood-Intensive_115smWho can Benefit

The course is designed for the student who is trying to make a difference in the energy issue. Energy touches all business decisions, whether a real estate professional looking at lowering the impact of their properties, to a pharmaceutical company looking at better managing their energy risk exposure, to a solar entrepreneur enabling renewable energy. We will pay close attention to new areas where there are opportunities to fill and problems that have yet to be addressed.

Expected Results

By the end of the program, students will have a comprehensive knowledge of how to implement energy solutions with a wide range of tools. Students will study how the financial system funds the infrastructure, the electric system supports the economy and governments try to manage the public interest. We will look at the full scope of challenges, covering generation, transmission, consumption and pollution. We study the major stakeholders in the energy equation, namely utilities, companies, governments, and individuals. We learn how simple decisions in any business can have profound impacts on the wider system.

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Program Format

This course is taught in a hybrid format, meeting for nine Saturdays (once monthly from Oct-Jun) at the IslandWood campus, in addition to twenty-one online classes held on Wednesday evenings for ninety minutes each. During the first and second quarters, student teams will author and present a case study related to the theme. During the third and fourth quarters, the student-selected project/practicum is presented. The fourth quarter is reserved exclusively for work on the practicum. A prerequisite for the course is a demonstrated interest in sustainable energy solutions.


Q1 Fundamentals of Energy in Business

The course begins with an exploration of the history and context of the energy system today. Students will learn how energy has affected the evolution of businesses. We will study the basic science and vocabulary of electricity, fuels, renewable energy, transportation, water and consumption efficiency. We will investigate how different industries are interconnected with the same energy issue. (3 credits)

What you will learn:

  • Understand the history of the energy system and its evolution to the infrastructure we have today
  • Understand the role of energy system in economic and societal impact
  • Be familiar with the policy and regulatory constraints that govern the system
  • Effectively communicate both issues and opportunities in energy to a mixed audience of customers, investors and local officials

Q2 State-of-the-Art Approaches

Next we perform a survey of major new development in both conventional and emerging energy resources. We will investigate advances in renewable technology, economics, market trends and regulatory environment. We will study the progress of the smart grid and how intelligent systems can help or hinder the development of new energy solutions. (3 credits)

What you will learn:

  • How to apply the basic concepts of energy to identify new opportunities in a rapidly changing landscape
  • The state of the art in renewable alternatives
  • New options in financing and new innovations in energy business models
  • New metrics and international standards that will affect the energy system

Energy ApproachesQ3 Addressing Opportunities

We will then apply our knowledge to current issues that have yet to be resolved. We will understand how to create better communities through creative solutions and how to build connections between multiple stakeholders and ideas. We will create a framework with which the student can use to apply to any situation to identify balanced solutions. (3 credits)

What you will learn:

  • How to apply the “wicked problem” and “clumsy solution” frameworks to energy issues
  • Conflicts that arise due to resource scarcity
  • Participation in public process to achieve end-results
  • Conceptualize new ventures to market an energy idea and create a message around the benefit

Q4 Action Learning Practicum

Apply the concepts and tools learned during the preceding quarters to further a real world project. In this practicum, students will identify an energy business case, analyze the value proposition, identify the unique benefits, and successfully pitch the project to representatives from the industry. (3 credits)

What you will learn:

  • How to apply sustainable energy systems solutions to a real or potential project in a business
  • Design a business model that creates value within the energy supply chain
  • Finding common ground within the complexity of a large system
  • Make an effective presentation for an energy project

Download the Program PDF

For more information, contact Kathleen Glazier at admissions@bgi.edu or 206.855.1215.