Practical idealists wanted: to change business for good

Janet Farness
Janet Farness, Certificate in Sustainable Business, Cohort 8

Energy presents a huge opportunity for positive impact on planet, people and profit.
Are you looking for the knowledge to lead this change?

Few sectors are as dynamic and critical to our society as energy. This industry supports the overall economy, impacts every other industry and effects climate change. Pinchot's Certificate in Sustainable Energy Solutions gives you a deep understanding of the components and connections within our complex energy system. Whether you are interested in renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage or another vital component in the energy sector, our certificate will help you discover the best opportunities to make positive change.

Turning today's visionaries into tomorrow's changemakers

Pinchot's 12-credit, four-quarter Certificate in Sustainable Energy Solutions series may be taken as a stand-alone program or as part of one of our MBA programs. The low-residency program combines monthly Saturday in-person class sessions with weekly distance learning class sessions. Monthly class sessions are held at IslandWood, a 250-acre LEED Gold environmental education center on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Between monthly class sessions, students attend class online and engage with faculty, guest speakers and each other through multiple distance learning technologies. This design allows students from across the United States and Canada to participate in the Certificate in Sustainable Energy Solutions program while continuing to live and work in their home communities.


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

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 Inspectorat IAEA.

Recent News

Energy faculty Jimmy Jia published in Harvard Business Review

Who Can Benefit

This certificate can benefit anyone grappling with energy issues: from entrepreneurs seeking to build energy-related businesses to finance and operations professionals seeking to manage their energy risk exposure. The program is designed for working professionals and includes coverage of all aspects of the energy system, including generation, transmission, consumption and pollution. The courses look at the full range of risks, opportunities and stakeholders in each element of the system.

Expected Outcomes

Students will leave this program with hard financial skills, a strong network of fellow professionals, a clear understanding of the process for getting energy projects off the ground, and the confidence to ask the right questions, gather the right information and make confident business decisions.

Recommended Sequence and Course Descriptions

SESC 561: Sustainable Energy Solutions: Understanding the Context for Change

The first of four courses in the Sustainable Energy Solutions Certificate presents the context within which Alternative and Renewable Energy options have emerged and grown as well as the current status of the industry in the US and the world. It explores the systemic and historical forces that have given birth to this field and examines the present state of the industry, including the philosophical underpinnings, the politics, and trends–technological, political and economic. Using both experiential ex­ercises and more traditional assignments, students will be immersed in key concepts, language, science, all foundational for charting a career in Sus­tainable Energy Solutions.

(3 credits)

SESC 562: Sustainable Energy Solutions: Identifying Opportunities

The second of four courses in the Sustainable Energy Solutions Certificate presents a survey of all existing conventional and alternative technologies, their current state of development, rate of success and fail­ure, financing possibilities and potential future. It also presents a possible platform for launching a project during quarter 3, Creating New Ventures.

(3 credits)

Prerequisite: SESC 561

SESC 563: Sustainable Energy Solutions: Creating New Ventures

The third of four courses in the Sustainable Energy Solutions Certificate provides the framework within which students take a concept or idea for a new venture though business modeling, prototyping, customer validation, and finally, to making the “pitch.” Students will draw from the various technologies and associated issues and opportunities surveyed in quarter 2.

(3 credits)

Prerequisites: SESC 561, SESC 562

SESC 564: Sustainable Energy Solutions: Action Learning Practicum

The fourth and final course in the Sustainable Energy Solutions Certificate is designed to enable students to apply the concepts and tools learned during quarters one, two and three in an integrated real world project. This project may be a continuation of the project outlined in the third quarter, or it may be a more implementation-oriented project for a client outside the school. In this practicum, students will:

  • Complete a refined iteration of the new venture they worked on during SESC 563, ALP 551-553, or identify another real or potential energy-related project worthy of time and research
  • Complete and to the extent possible execute a formal implementation plan for the project
  • Design and, if possible, execute a stakeholder engagement plan for the project
  • Make the business case for the project to the relevant audience(s)
  • Present the project to the client, the class and a representative group of experts

(3 credits)

Prerequisites: SESC 561, SESC 562, SESC 563


Get more information on the Certificate in Sustainable Energy Solutions

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Michelle Knab Erickson
Pinchot taught me to work on something I truly believe in. My work is guided by the goal of leaving a positive impact."

Michelle Erickson
MBA Cohort 3
Product Management Consultant, Santa Barbara, CA