If you want to be at the forefront of building a green society, consider becoming a green architect.
Architects will play one of the leading roles as we transition to a more sustainable society, because buildings are currently responsible for nearly 50% of all global carbon emissions, mainly thanks to energy required for heating and cooling. Designing and building more energy efficient homes, offices, and other buildings will be one of the most important steps towards reducing the impact of humans on the climate. The American Institute of Architects recently set the goal of making all new buildings carbon neutral by 2030, and is asking for voluntary commitments from architecture firms to work towards that goal.
As the number of green businesses grows, a growing number of entrepreneurs are expected to seek office spaces and other buildings that match their commitment to sustainability. Others, such as green bed and breakfasts catering to guests with chemical sensitivities, may even require eco-friendly, natural design and building materials as part of their business model!
Environmental concerns are not the only reason green architecture is becoming increasingly popular around the world. Energy efficiency also saves money and creates a more pleasant interior environment. A growing number of home and business owners are seeking to cut costs while simultaneously helping the environment and making their homes and offices more pleasant and livable.
As a result, green architecture firms are expected to be in high demand in the coming decades.
Green Architecture Degrees and Internships
Exact requirements vary from state to state, but in most states becoming a licensed architect requires a student to earn an accredited architecture degree, followed by an internship and successful completion of the Architect Registration Exam. To learn more about different paths to becoming an architect, check out ARCHcareers.org.
A growing number of architecture degree programs are offering specialties in sustainable design, and many states require mandatory continuing education, including sustainable design certification, in order to maintain an architecture license. Archschools.org, run by the Association of Collegiate School of Architecture (ACSA), offers a searchable directory of all certified architecture schools in the US and Canada, including information about environmental and sustainability specialties.
Following your degree, you can intern in one of the growing number of architecture firms around the country specializing in green architecture. Most firms require a resume, portfolio, and interview from prospective interns, so be sure to prepare a profile of outstanding sustainable designs to catch their attention.
Depending on your interests, you may want to specialize in a specific field of green architecture, such as passive solar buildings, or you may want to keep a more general focus. One field of architecture that is likely to see considerable growth in the coming decades is designs for green remodeling projects, as a growing number of homeowners and businesses seek to make existing buildings green.
Once you have a few years of experience in established firms, you may decide to start an architecture firm of your own. Owning an architecture firm is as much about being a good entrepreneur as it is about being a good architect, so it is not a path for everyone, but if you are a talented architect with a good head for business, the rewards of owning your own firm can be great.
Three Green Architecture Firms To Keep an Eye On
ZeroEnergyDesign is a nationwide architecture and HVAC design firm specializing in zero energy home designs and remodeling. ZeroEnergyDesign takes a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to designing low impact homes to fit their clients’ lifestyle and budget.
Doerr Architecture is a Colorado-based firm specializing in active and passive solar design. The founder, Thomas Doerr, is a past chair of the American Institute of Architects Colorado chapter’s Committee on the Environment and wrote the Green Architecture Checklist for Residences. His firm is committed to minimizing the impact of its residential, commercial, and institutional designs on the environment.
Skillful Means is a sustainable architecture and construction firm located in Berkeley, CA and best known for its stunning straw bale homes, such as the Harrison House Retreat bordering Joshua Tree National Monument.
Main Image Credit: Jeremy Levine Design