Get a Job as a Green Building Professional

You can a start a career that gives to the environment at the same time it earns green in your wallet. Here's how.

| November 2012

For anyone looking to break into the field, Becoming a Green Building Professional (Wiley, 2012) gives concise, practical advice, plus a sense of the job market’s coming direction. Author Holley Henderson is a member of the LEED steering committee and supplements her knowledge with first-hand interviews of others in the field. In this excerpt from the book, find an introduction to green building and design and its many benefits as a career. 

Why Build Green?

Green building is a profession that seeks to give back more than it takes from our natural sur­roundings—the environment at large—and, ultimately, to help preserve the health of both people and our planet. It is a lofty goal, and one that inspires most people in this career field both person­ally and professionally. Yet there is no one right way to become a green builder, nor is there only one type of green building expert. The field is vast and diverse, full of numerous jobs and special­izations, all working together toward the same ideal: to create buildings that are sustainable, and ultimately regenerative.

Consider the people who create a green building. It is not just one, or even two, sets of people or teams that come together to plan, design, erect, and maintain a building. Instead, it is a well-integrated group of individuals, all of whom have varying backgrounds and job titles. For green building, the roles include an environmental consciousness where realtors and land developers focus on the planned structure’s return on investment and overall sustainable strategy. Architects draft and design the framework of the building itself; interior designers sculpt the healthy interior space; engineers fill in the efficient systems inside, from plumbing to electrical to mechanical. Contractors make sure all the eco-conscious elements are properly installed during construction; and facility managers keep the place green after the sawdust is cleared and the last window is installed.

This book seeks to introduce readers to the green building profession, to explain how to be­come part of this quickly growing career field—and also, importantly, to inspire. This job path is new and not easily mapped, but it is one that provides great rewards to those who persevere.

As renowned green architect William McDonough once said, “Our goal is a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just world, with clean air, water, soil and power—economically, equita­bly, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed—period! Which parts of this don’t you like?”

The Need for Green Building

All over the world, cities are becoming ever taller, ever bigger, and ever more architecturally in­novative. From concrete and steel structures that hover more than 2,700 feet above the Earth to urban areas packed with more than twenty million people, humans have pushed inventiveness past the limits of what was ever thought possible.