Green construction jobs are becoming the norm in the contracting and construction industries, so to remain competitive construction professionals must expand their skill set in the green and eco-friendly building fields. More companies are opting to construct green buildings, with seventy percent of executives and developers making their firms part of sustainability programs for tax breaks and the benefit of reduced operating costs. Financial benefits like these are among the many reasons why green buildings are being built so frequently and why there is a demand for workers and contractors with sustainable construction skills and a familiarity with eco-friendly construction. But what do contractors, journeymen, and construction specialist need to know about working on green buildings?
Green Building Operational Categories
The diverse nature of green construction means that contractors, builders, and designers working in the industry must have an understanding of the following sub categories in green building:
- Surveying and planning
- Energy efficiency
- water conservation
- Indoor air quality
- Onsite construction practices
Credentials & Certifications and who sets the standards
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a respected advocate for green construction and a nonprofit organization which created and maintains the standards used to rate buildings sustainability. The USGBC’s standards are a part of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s (LEED) building rating system and by utilizing these standards the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) judges buildings against a LEED’s scorecard. Buildings looking for certification earn points in categories like energy efficiency and design and those categories listed above. If a building’s score is sufficient it is eligible to receive Silver, Gold, or Platinum LEED certification, and this certification is so respected that certain jurisdictions in the U.S. have made it a part of their building standards and codes.
Nationally the U.S. General Services Administration mandates that any and all major federal renovations and new construction projects meet the LEED Gold standards, while private developers pursue LEED certifications in order to broadcast their eco-friendly credentials. Though LEED is the standard in the United States, alternatives do exist, like the Green Building Initiative, which offers a comparable green construction certification. Still, some green construction certifications are better than others, with a few being more expensive and complex, requiring contractors, designers, and builders to do some research on them before applying.
Certifications for Professionals
The GBCI provides both building certifications while also accrediting professionals and contractors working in the green construction field. Also, LEED Accredited Professionals are eligible to work on projects where official LEED certification is pursued. These contractors can also already be working as a project’s architect or designer. The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) created a certification specifically for construction supervisors, with the endorsement of the GBCI. Frontline construction managers can be certified under the LEED’s green building agenda on a project, by the project’s Sustainable Construction Manager.
Occupations and training for Green Construction
There are several national and local organization offering training for green construction trades in the US including the following:
The NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research):
- A not-for-profit created to outline a standardized training module for green construction officially recognized as the industry standard by both the Green Building Certification Institute and U.S. Green Building Council.
- Workers with existing proficiency in a trade looking to augment their resume with green building techniques skills should contact their local NCCER sponsor or employment and trade centers for training opportunities.
The Associated Builders and Contractors
- The ABC has been heavily involved in developing green construction training programs for those looking to enter the industry with a respected certification.
Right now a background and training in green practices are essential for a specific occupation. But it is the engineers and the architects who require a substantial amount of training, education, and certification for skills specific to green construction. These specialists must turn to groups like the ABC, NCCER, LEED for guidance on their particular specialty. However, in many cases construction laborers might work differently on a green construction site, without the need for extensive specialized training. Specialty trade workers with proficiencies in installing things like energy and water efficient structures and appliances or those using new green techniques require additional training.