Course code:



I - Introductory

Meets the following requirements:

  • QR - Quantitative Reasoning
  • ES - Environmental Science

Lab fee:


Typically offered:


In this course students will learn content and skills so that they can participate effectively in sustainable energy projects, make personal and community decisions that reduce carbon emissions, and work in ventures in sustainable energy. Additionally, this course will be useful for those interested in energy and climate policy, either internationally or domestically.

We will begin with a quick overview of current CO2 emissions levels and look at how this is related to energy use. We will then turn our attention to basic ideas from physics, including the definition of energy and the difference between energy and power. The bulk of the course will consist of a survey of different forms of energy consumption and generation. Throughout, we will quantitatively analyze technology from both a local and global point of view. For example, we will calculate how much electricity one can generate on a rooftop, and we will also examine the role that solar PV could play toward the goal of eliminating fossil fuel use worldwide. In a unit on financial mathematics, students will learn about the time value of money and several ways of quantifying investments, including ROI (return on investment) and IRR (internal rate of return). Students will apply these financial tools in several short case studies. If time permits, we may also cover negative emissions technologies and the electrical grid, including grid stability issues and the potential of smart-grid technology. This will be a demanding, introductory, class. Evaluation will be based on weekly problem sets.



Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.