WASHINGTON, DC - The increased demand for sustainable and environmentally friendly products and services has led to new opportunities for certified professionals in the green workforce.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines green jobs as those that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources. They are also jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or reduce the use of natural resources.
In March 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that at least 3.1 million Americans were employed in green jobs, a sector that now accounts for about 2.4 percent of the nation’s total employment, an affirmation that green jobs are a real factor of the nation’s economic growth.
Within those numbers specifically, the influx of green building jobs demands qualified candidates with certifications. The Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) Center reported that by 2013 green buildings will support nearly 8 million workers in a range of occupations including construction managers, carpenters, electricians, architects, truck drivers and cost estimators, among many others. Recent BLS projections support this trend, indicating that green construction jobs will increase faster or much faster than average through 2018.
The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) a member of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE), administers the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Professional Credentials. LEED credentials support the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Rating System, which provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions.
“A LEED professional credential signifies advanced knowledge of LEED and green building principles and practices,” says Elisa Kahn, director of credentialing at GBCI. “The widely recognized credentials distinguish professionals across many disciplines, ranging from the broad and foundational LEED Green Associate to the five highly specialized and experienced LEED AP with specialty credentials. If you are considering a career move to green building industry, a LEED credential will set you apart.”
LEED projects have been successfully established in 135 countries. International projects make up 40% of the total LEED registered square footage. Recently, Falabella, Latin America’s largest department store, worked with Johnson Controls to earn LEED certification in several of its retail stores. Now, the store works to ensure it minimizes its environmental impact through renewable energy, natural ventilation, solar water heaters, and more.
A McGraw-Hill Construction study says, “Training is essential for getting and maintaining green jobs; 30 percent of green job workers say they needed additional training when they started, and most report that formal education and training programs will continue to be needed. Hiring firms agree; 71 percent of hiring decision-makers maintain that being green-certified increases competitiveness.”
As demand grows for green products and services, more opportunities will arise for professionals to set themselves apart as experts. Professionals should contact their credentialing bodies to find out whether a green or sustainable certification is available in their field.