January 2000: “I was exposed to solar technology as a carpenter in the ’70s,” says Roger Ebbage, director of Lane Community College’s Energy Management Program. “I went back to school so that I could teach solar design.” As a high school construction technology teacher in Oakland, California, Ebbage and his students built and sold four passive-solar houses at a profit. That job fell to budget cuts in 1988, so Ebbage moved to Eugene and found work at LCC, teaching construction to welfare recipients. Since his accession to the energy management post in ’92, Ebbage has financed the program through innovative partnerships with public and private utilities. He founded the Northwest Energy Education Institute to train industry specialists in the latest techniques, and as a source of revenue for the college’s two-year energy efficiency degree offering. “We’ve run about 80 people through the program, with an 80 percent placement rate,” he reports. “Every kilowatt-hour we can save offsets pollution.” Last October, Ebbage was recognized as “energy manager of the year” by the Association of Professional Energy Managers.
2018 update: “I encourage everyone to come look at this building as an example of sustainable building design,” says Ebbage, standing beside an array of solar panels on the roof of the Mary Spilde Center, LCC’s downtown campus since 2013. “We use it as a teaching tool.” The Northwest Water and Energy Education Institute has become a national model for energy education, offering two-year degrees in energy management, building controls and water conservation. After 30 years at Lane, Ebbage is easing into retirement this year; he still works halftime. Around 75 of his colleagues and former students attended an informal retirement party and networking session at LCC Friday, Sept. 28.