Going “Green”: Nurturing a New Generation of Builders
As a response to the energy crisis of the 1970s, green building methods sought to conserve scarce resources and reduce environmental impact. Fifty years later, sustainable projects have moved into the mainstream, making construction professionals with specialized skills and advanced degrees more valuable than ever.
Educational programs focused on green building techniques are here to stay, attracting a growing number of future construction industry professionals eager to contribute to a discipline that optimizes natural resources and reduces strain on the environment. As demand for formalized instruction increases, many academic institutions are stepping up, offering students everything from basic two-year certificate programs to more advanced post-graduate degrees. All are designed to promote the principles and practices of sustainable building, resource conservation and environmental stewardship—and all fill an important niche in the commercial construction market.
In fact, construction firms are finding they have much to gain from employees with “green” training and expertise. Formal environmental regulations and cultural expectations are pushing many to demonstrate sustainable building know-how: environmental impacts, energy efficiency, and renewable energy solutions. With a portfolio of sustainable projects, public opinion is often more favorable, too—leading to the award of private sector and government-funded building projects that require green training and techniques.
Green Building by the Numbers
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2018 that about one-fourth of the 278,460 employed in the sustainable building field worked in non-residential building construction. Job growth was expected to be faster than the average from 2018-2028 at about 10%.
Professional Certificate in Green Building Design
Students of certificate programs prepare for jobs in green construction by applying proven principles of environment-friendly design and energy efficiency. Prospective green construction workers study water and energy conservation, natural ventilation, and environmentally healthy building materials, focusing on topics that include:
- Energy efficiency laws
- Green retrofitting
- Renewable energy systems
- Sustainability economics
Bachelor's Degree in Sustainable Building Design
Participants in sustainable building design bachelor's degree programs learn how to promote resource efficiency while ensuring the health, safety and welfare of building occupants. Students must learn the basics of new design-and-construct projects as well as the process of retrofitting existing structures to meet rigorous energy efficiency standards. College-level sustainable building design programs teach students to view a building holistically, covering topics that include:
- Computer aided design
- Energy efficient systems
- Wood structure design
Master's Degree in Sustainable Design
Prospective green collar professionals in master's programs study architecture, healthy indoor environments, alternative energy development and eco-focused technology. Students learn how to implement systems that decrease environmental impacts, focusing on topics that include:
- Building life-cycle analysis
- Building material mechanics
- Green building documentation
- Sustainability theory
As demand for eco-conscious building continues to increase—and our understanding of sustainable construction practices evolves—construction professionals with specialized skills and training will be a critical business asset. Equipping both current and future construction professionals with a knowledge of “green” processes and practices will position individual companies, and the industry as a whole, for long-range success.