The majority of our environmental problems are somehow tied to buildings — whether it’s the energy consumption of the building, the location of the building’s site, or the water efficiency of the building. Thus, countless green jobs are also tied to understanding the ways in which we can make our nation’s buildings more environmentally friendly. The building industry is so interdisciplinary that people from countless backgrounds—not just architecture and engineering—can play a role in the field.
What does LEED training entail and what can one expect to learn after taking coursework?
The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) recently updated the LEED system to LEED v3. The first level of LEED accreditation is LEED Green Associate. LEED Green Associate training through my school is a two-day course covering sustainable sites, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation in design, and water efficiency. After successfully completing [the Green Associate] exam and working on one green building project, a LEED Green Associate can apply for a specialty accreditation in homes, building design + construction, operations and maintenance, or other accreditations that are currently in the developmental phase. After attaining any LEED accreditation, a student is prepared to design, build, and implement modern green technology for buildings thereby enhancing the building’s energy efficiency and water efficiency while minimizing its carbon footprint. Just go to any job board on the Web and type in “Green” or “LEED” and the listings cover every state and all job types.
How does this type of training create opportunities for workers, particularly minorities?
As a minority the ability to understand the green market in its infancy can have a huge impact on the future of the green marketplace. Minorities as a whole can now educate themselves for the coming wave of green infrastructure improvements. They now have an opportunity to position themselves for ownership to get government and private contracts
This type of training can offer an impressive credential to any and all seeking a career boost. Minorities and other historically oppressed groups have a unique ability to understand and facilitate LEED’s goal of maintaining a focus on the triple bottom line: the economy, society, and the environment.
In terms of the economy, LEED promotes affordable housing, using local labor at fair wages and using regional materials. In terms of society, green buildings should be located in dense areas, city centers, and places with access to public transit. This is a polar opposite of the “white flight” that occurred in the mid-20th century where people were encouraged to move out to the suburbs. The environment is only one component of the LEED ratings system, although it certainly is its focal point.
What other types of training might be important in becoming a green worker?
In the current state of the economy, one of the largest demands is coming from the home energy auditing industry. People, companies and organizations across the country are looking for ways to save money on their energy bills. Specifically, a certification in the Building Performance Institute (BPI) building analyst exam prepares inspectors to evaluate a home on its energy efficiency and determine the most efficacious way to reduce energy usage and cut costs. Other training that is valuable for specific job placement are solar panel installation and any other renewable energy certification.
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