Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 85.66
Liaison Mark Lichtenstein
Submission Date March 5, 2021

STARS v2.2

State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
IN-27: Online Sustainability Course

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 0.50 Katherina Searing
Associate Director of Professional Education & Non-credit Programs
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Has the institution offered a free, sustainability-focused course on the public internet in which students were enrolled within the previous three years?:

Title and a brief description of the institution’s free, online sustainability course:

ESF currently has two courses on the Coursera platform that are free:

1. Solar Energy Basics:

This course launched on June 17, 2019 and has had a total enrollment of 45,532 students. There are currently 1,399 active learners (as of 2/3/2021). The course has a 4.8/5 rating (1,412 ratings).



This course offers an introduction to the fundamentals of solar power as it applies to solar panel system installations. Students will learn to compare solar energy to other energy resources and explain how solar panels, or photovoltaics (PV for short), convert sunlight to electricity. Students will be able to identify the key components needed in a basic photovoltaic (solar panel) system, such as is found on a house or building, and explain the function of each component in the system. Students will also learn how to calculate the electrical demand of a building, how to reduce the overall demand, and then how to design a solar panel system that can meet that annual demand at a given location. Students will also compare the different types of pricing models that are being used and key regulatory considerations for grid tied systems (where a house or building is connected to the electrical grid and also generates electricity from solar panels). A capstone design project that entails both the simple audit of a building to determine demand, and a selection of components to design a solar panel system to meet that demand.

2. Solar Energy System Design:

This course launched on July 13, 2020 and has enrolled 5,395 students. There are currently 453 active learners (as of 2/3/2021). The course has a 4.7/5 rating (90 ratings).



Solar Energy System Design builds upon the introduction to PV systems from Solar Energy Basics course, which included basic system components and functions, as well as some basic system sizing using simplifying assumptions. Students should at this point have a basic understanding of electrical power and energy, be able to calculate the energy needs of a site as well as energy production potential for a PV system at a given location under optimal conditions. Much of this course will focus on incorporating on the ground conditions into energy production considerations, and how to account for these conditions in system design and equipment selection. By the end of this course students should be able to incorporate losses in irradiance due to array setups with less than optimal positioning and/or shading, and account for variations in module output due to temperature variations in your system design.

Website URL where information about the free, online sustainability course is available:
Number of individuals taking the institution’s free, online sustainability course in the most recent year offered:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.