Are you interested in a career in sustainable and green building?

Green roof on the British Horse Society's Headquarters with an Oak tree in a center courtyard. Photo by Sky Garden Ltd

If so, you may find yourself exploring a wide range of green and sustainable building specialties, discovering career paths you never knew existed, and maybe inventing a whole new way to live.

Common Green Building Skills

There are some common skills people in the sustainable and green building industry need to develop regardless of the specific career path chosen. These include:

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Knowledge of sustainable materials

  • Cork

  • Coffee husks

  • Mycelium

  • Algae

  • Cob

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Sustainable building practices

  • Renewable technologies and energies

  • Waste and wastewater reduction

  • Pollution and carbon reduction

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Building Science basics

  • Physics, chemistry, engineering, architecture, and life science

  • Full life-cycle of buildings

  • Building systems and component relationships

  • Building performance

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Other important skills

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills

  • Attention to detail

  • Strong problem-solving and critical-thinking skills

Green Building Product Designers

Do you like to design products that solve specific problems?

Green building product designers design sustainable building products such as insulation, roofing, and flooring. They work to create products that are eco-friendly, energy-efficient, and made from sustainable materials.

Hemp-based "stone" wall blocks. Wikimedia Photo

Heat pump on the exterior of a brick building. Wikimedia Photo

When designing a green building product, the product designers need to consider:

  • A product's lifecycle

  • How the product integrates into the rest of the building

  • Materials used

  • Regulations and policies

Green Architects

Green architects design sustainable buildings that are energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. They work with clients to create designs that prioritize sustainable materials, natural light, and energy efficiency.

View of bamboo forest canopy from ground level. Photo by Eleonora Albasi on Unsplash

Bamboo is a popular sustainable building material.

Hotel Marcel in Connecticut, US after recent energy efficiency retrofit. Wikimedia Photo

Building retrofits are an important part of the green building industry.

Green architects evaluate these characteristics of a building:

  • Ventilation systems designed with the heating and cooling systems

  • Energy efficiency

  • Water conservation

  • Landscaping for passive solar energy and cooling

  • Minimizing impact on natural habitat

  • Using alternative and local power sources like wind and solar

  • Using non-synthetic and non-toxic materials

  • Locally obtained and responsibly harvested materials like wood and stone

  • Adaptive reuse of older buildings

  • Using architecturally salvaged items

  • Efficient use of space

Sustainable Construction Manager

Sustainable construction managers oversee construction projects with a focus on sustainability. They work to ensure that the construction process is sustainable and eco-friendly, from sourcing sustainable materials to reducing waste and minimizing the project's carbon footprint.

Eco-friendly jobsite trailer includes solar panels, wind turbine, recycled materials, and heat pump technoology. Wikimedia Photo

The more experience a construction manager has in a specific type of sustainable construction method, the smoother, easier, and cheaper the project will be.

To get experience on a variety of projects, sustainable construction managers should consider:

  • Specialized certifications

  • Apprenticeships

  • Volunteering

Green Construction and Tradespeople

Green construction and tradespeople work on the construction and renovation of sustainable buildings. They use eco-friendly materials and practices to reduce the carbon footprint of construction projects.

Construction equipment lifting 35,000-gallon tank into place to collect rainwater from a building's roof. Wikimedia Photo

Time lapse of 3-D printed clay house. Wikimedia Image

Tradespeople and skilled laborers are responsible for the building behaving the way it was designed. Often the best intentions for a green building can end up left behind if the construction isn't done with sustainable practices in mind.

Tradespeople need to develop their skills through sustainable construction courses and apprenticeships.

Sustainable & Green Building Certifications

Sustainable building certifications are a way for buildings and professionals to showcase their commitment to sustainability and green building practices. Here are some popular certifications:

  • LEED — A well-known standard used world-wide that has strict energy efficiency standards, address health, and wastes.

  • Passive House — This world-wide standard has strict energy efficiency standards where building performance must be proven.

  • Well Building — This standard is about human health in the building environment.

  • Net Zero— This well-known standard is about balancing energy use and energy production.

GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratories for Sustainable Chemistry a LEED certified building. Wikimedia Photo of LEED certified building.

Different certifications focus on different criteria and metrics for building certification. When a professional is certified, they show the skills and knowledge needed to design, or construct, a building to the standard. Although buildings may be designed to a specific standard or standards, they aren't always certified.

Thermographic image showing a high-performance passive house building with a lack of thermal bridges.

Wikimedia Photo of Passive House building (right foreground) showing high-performance building standards through thermal imagery.


Which certification standard(s) would you consider if energy was a top concern? Select all that apply.

Green Professionals

As the world continues to prioritize sustainability, the demand for sustainable and green building professionals is on the rise. Here are some examples of the types of people you might meet in the industry:

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Zoe is a green architect.

She has a Master's degree in sustainable architecture and has a LEED AP with a building design and construction specialty.

She is currently working on obtaining her CPHD, or Certified Passive House Designer credential. Her current project is a mixed-use building that will meet both Passive House and LEED standards.

Salary: $76,000 USD.

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Juan is a construction manager specializing in sustainable projects.

He's working in the construction industry for many years and has a degree in sustainable construction management and is a Certified Passive House Tradesperson and Site Supervisor.

His current project is a multi-story commercial building that will be certified to the Passive House Plus standard.

Salary: $120,600 USD.

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Sidney is a product designer.

Her work focuses on improving the carbon footprint, energy efficiency, and r-values of insulation and similar materials.

She has an undergraduate degree in product design with a minor in chemistry, as well as a master's degree in sustainable product design. She's also interested in the cradle-to-cradle design approach.

Salary: $71,000 USD.

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Ayden is a skilled carpenter specializing in green construction.

He has apprenticed with numerous tradespeople and works at a green design-build company.

He has a variety of certifications. He also teaches green construction techniques at the local trades college.

Salary: $61,000 USD.


You are interested in joining the green building industry. Who would you talk to in order to find out more about green building? Select all that apply.

Take Action

Congratulations, you're on your way to discovering a career in sustainable and green building!

Pink bicycle at city curb loaded with baskets and bags of produce and other items.

To continue your journey, here are some actions you can take:


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