Discovering Green Jobs in the Construction and Building Industries


Our modern buildings put a huge burden on the planet, using more than a third of the nation’s energy, producing almost a quarter of all national greenhouse gas emissions, consuming 20% of the country’s fresh water, and pumping out waste in the form of industrial and office supplies, organic matter, and building materials. How we build and manage our buildings has a really big impact on whether our society will become sustainable or not.

But there are some strong movements to develop green building practices from design to construction to operation to deconstruction. Organizations such as the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and ENERGY STAR have developed standards for green buildings, architects and engineers have created new green building techniques, and building managers are constantly updating their practices to save energy, water, materials, and more. The green job opportunities related to buildings are therefore nearly limitless.

What are Green Buildings and Where are the Green Jobs?

Building and operating a green building involves reducing the consumption of energy, water, and materials, limiting greenhouse gas emissions, minimizing the production of waste by reducing consumption and increasing recycling, and ensuring interior spaces are healthy and productive spaces in which to live and work. It’s a tall order, but there are thousands of people working on the problem – and thousands more green jobs just waiting to be had.

You’ll find that there are green career opportunities in almost every specialty within the green building and construction industry. Here’s just a sample of what you might find:

  • Building and Design: If you like building designs, then this is the industry for you. Job titles might include:
    • Architect
    • Architectural Draftsperson
    • City Planner
    • Design Consultant
    • Engineering Specialist
    • Furniture Designer
    • Healthcare Planner
    • Interior Designer
    • Laboratory Planner
    • Lighting Designer
    • Resource Architect
    • Senior Project Manager
    • Store Designer
    • Transit Architect
    • Water Purification Designer
  • Construction: People looking for green jobs that are hands on will find a multitude of job opportunities in the green construction sector:
    • Building Air Sealing Specialist
    • Building Recycler and Demolition Specialist
    • Carpenter
    • Construction Manager
    • Contractor
    • Electrician
    • Home Performance Auditor
    • Home Retrofitter
    • Insulation Specialist
    • LEED Project Manager
    • Machinist
    • Painter
    • Plumber
    • Roofer
    • Welder
    • Window, Door, and Skylight Installer
  • Energy Efficiency: This is a special field within the building management sector that is focused very specifically on how well a building produces, conserves, and consumes energy.
    • Building Energy Auditor
    • Energy Efficiency Manager
    • ENERGY STAR Consultant
    • Home Energy Consultant
    • Renewable Energy Consultant
  • Building Operations: In terms of total energy consumption, a building will use far more after construction is complete than during the construction process. Proper building management is therefore essential to conserve natural resources and energy.
    • Energy Efficiency Manager
    • Environmental Compliance Specialist
    • HVAC Technician
    • Lighting Specialist
    • Refrigeration Engineer
  • Landscaping: Building exteriors are just as important as the interiors when it comes to energy, water, and chemical consumption.
    • Caretaker
    • Gardener
    • Green Roof Specialist
    • Grounds Manager
    • Irrigation Technician
    • Landscape Architect
    • Landscape Designer
    • Stormwater Specialist

Image Via Flickr: kalmyket

This post was written by:

Maryruth Belsey Priebe

Maryruth has been seeking the keys to environmental justice - both at home and at work - for over a decade. Growing up adjacent to wild spaces, Maryruth developed a healthy respect (and whimsical appreciation) for things non-human, but her practical mind constantly draws her down to earth to ponder tangible solutions to complex eco-problems.

With interests that range from green living to green business, sustainable building designs to organic gardening practices, ecosystem restoration to environmental health, Maryruth has been exploring and writing about earth-matters for most of her life. Of special interest is the subject of ecopsychology and the role the natural world plays in the long-term health and well-being of humanity. You can learn more about Maryruth's work at www.JadeCreative.ca.


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Comments

  1. Rkrebs says:

    Rating systems can be an effective checklist to promote green “thinking” but building energy performance is the ultimate indicator of a green building. Sustainable construction efficiently reduces resources to heat and cool a building. This can lower the environmental impact throughout the life of the building, not only during their construction. Sustainable architecture relies on the science of how materials and their impact on energy performance over the life of the building effect the environment. The LEED certification process should be improved to reduce administrative costs and ensure tested performance benefits, such as sustainably improved energy usage over the life of the building.

  2. Lorna Li says:

    That’s really good feedback – you are absolutely right. Building energy use can leave a huge carbon footprint and it’s important to take this into account with any green building rating system.

  3. Julia says:

    I would like to be able to find a green contractor, but there do seem to be too many around. Definitely a business opportunity for forward thinking builders.

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