Green Jobs in Building and Architecture

Building has long been considered the antithesis of an eco-conscious industry, thanks to residential homes and commercial building’s energy, raw material, and water consumption, plus production of carbon dioxide and waste. But that does not mean that a green job search must rule out building and architecture! In fact, there are strong movements toward environmentally sustainable practices — which means opportunity for anyone seeking a new, green career in these fields.

The greening of the building industry is occurring in the following areas:

  • Architecture: Those who design buildings try to find innovative solutions that result in little impact on the environment. Green roofs handle water runoff, insulate the building, and enhance the biodiversity of the local environment. More buildings are designed to generate their own power through a variety of methods. Waste water that used to flow into the sewer system is divided into true waste and gray water. Gray water can be used to flush toilets and water the garden. Rain water that used to travel to the gutter is now stored for other uses.

  • Building supplies and materials: All the materials, such as roofing, windows, doors, foundations, insulations, paints and plumbing, used in building new construction and remodeling projects must be built from sustainable materials with green manufacturing processes.

  • New construction and remodeling: Contractors seek new knowledge, skills, and experience to implement the architect’s plans while finding innovative ways to manage the building industry’s waste stream.

  • Energy-efficiency audits and retrofitting: A new emphasis in the building trade is evolving to assess the environmental impact of existing buildings and to retrofit them to be more energy efficient.

  • Interior design: Choosing the materials used to create the interior ambience of a building is just as important as the structure itself.

  • Furnishings: Interior decorations must also be built sustainably, including furniture, window coverings, flooring, and lighting.

  • Landscaping: With care and forethought, landscaping can decrease the energy used to heat, cool, and light a building. Water usage, waste management, and buying locally benefit green landscapers.

Future trends in green architecture

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy department has put forth the Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative to encourage development of commercial buildings that “generate as much energy as they consume through efficiency technologies and on-site power generation.”

Watch for intriguing new building materials with unusual qualities. Although these ideas are still in an R&D phase, many look promising: a polymer coating that repels oil and can be cleaned with water, dark roofing materials that don’t generate heat, highly insulated windows and glass, soundproof windows, and drywall requiring 80 percent less energy to produce.

Jobs to consider in green architecture

The following are some jobs you could pursue if green architecture interests you

  • Architecture: Architect, project architect, laboratory planner, architectural services manager, senior project manager, senior design leader, architectural draftsperson, design architect, director of design, senior design architect/project manager, lead architect, project designer, resource architect, university architect, healthcare planner, staff architect, transit architect

  • Building: LEED project manager, home performance retrofitter, senior home performance specialist, director of retrofitting operations, project manager, contractor, construction manager

  • Energy efficiency: Residential energy auditor, energy efficiency project manager, home energy consultants

  • Designer: Interior designer, senior interior design, furniture designer, assistant project manager, interior designer for hospitality projects, store designer, healthcare facilities design/planning consultant, design representative, junior designer, interior design manufacturer’s representative, design/production assistant, interiors architecture project manager, interior design assistant, design consultant

  • Landscaping: Landscape architect, senior landscape architect, landscape designer, grounds manager, facilities superintendent, landscaper, gardener, caretaker, landscaping supervisor, landscaping estimator, irrigation technician, coordinator of landscape and urban design

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