Frequently Asked Questions
This map always raises lots of great questions. Many can be answered by explaining the general principles that underlie its content and organization. Read on.
What’s a “green building”?
The Environmental Protection Agency says Green Building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction. Green building designs can be applied to any kind of building, new or retrofitted, including residential homes, schools, commercial buildings, industrial facilities, laboratories, and many others. A Green Building is also known as a sustainable or high-performance building.
How do green buildings fit into the larger energy efficiency industry?
The hard truth is that all buildings have a carbon footprint. A building’s carbon footprint is defined as the amount of CO2 it produces during its operations and activities. Buildings generate nearly 40% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. Considering a building’s carbon footprint is something that affects both new construction as well as existing buildings. By educating ourselves, we will be able to ensure that new building design and building retrofitting has the smallest negative impact possible on the environment.
What else encompasses the energy efficiency industry?
Employment in the energy efficiency industry also covers both the production, distribution, and installation of energy-saving products. The research, design, manufacturing, wholesale distribution, and installation of ENERGY STAR appliances, employed over 826,500 Americans in 2019 according to the 2020 U.S. Energy & Employment Report.
Why only 55 Jobs?
We just didn't have room! The ever-expanding green buildings and energy efficiency industry comprises many more occupations than a single web tool can reasonably depict. A team of national experts selected fifty five occupations that are central to the green buildings and energy efficiency industry to include in the map.
Where are the job listings?
This tool was not designed as a jobs bank. The map is not tied to any specific employers, and in no way guarantees a career progression. There are numerous job boards available on the internet that are bursting with job listings for the green buildings and energy efficiency industry. Additionally, the US Department of Labor and many states offer online tools that match occupations, skills, and interests with specific training and employment opportunities.
What is considered a “New-Collar” job?
New-Collar jobs are occupations that focus more on a candidate's skills during the hiring process, than on their level of education. New-Collar jobs typically do not require a four-year degree; instead they highlight skills gained through on-the-job training, high school technical education, on-the-job apprenticeships, vocational schools, technical certification programs, community colleges, the military, and internships. The Green Buildings Career Map identifies 32 jobs in the green buildings and energy efficiency industry that do not require a college degree.
I am a veteran. Will companies recognize the experience I gained while in the military?
Not only will they recognize it, most companies will cherish it! Employers know that along with technical skills, veterans have acquired many additional skill-sets while in active military service such as excellent communication skills, flexibility, teamwork, integrity, planning, and problem-solving skills. The Resource page on this website has a link to Match Military Experience to Civilian Jobs to help you find the right green buildings and energy efficiency education and training, and/or job.
Are there many green buildings and energy efficiency jobs currently available?
Yes!! According to the 2020 U.S. Energy & Employment Report, in 2019, the energy efficiency sector continued to produce the most new jobs of any energy sector–more than 54,000–with 2,378,893 jobs in total. Demand growth for efficient technology and building upgrades has driven expansion across many traditional industries including construction trades (which added more than 27,600 jobs) and professional services (which added nearly 14,800 employees). But don’t rely on the statistics to prove this point, look at any job board and you’ll see countless energy efficiency jobs available!
How precise is the wage data?
The wage data provided in this map is based on multiple sources: the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), national job boards, and career planning resources. It is notoriously difficult to represent accurate wage data for a country the size of the U.S. with the diversity of each state. The wages identified under each occupation of the Green Buildings Career Map show a wide range due to the geographic differences in the cost of living throughout the country.
What is the “preferred” education and training level?
There are many education and training pathways into most of the jobs in this map. The tool includes the minimum qualifications typically required for the job, as well as the preferred skill-level or credential — what would be most attractive to employers, and most conducive to building a skilled workforce for the green buildings and energy efficiency industry. Education and skill attainment are identified by one or more of the following: Certification, Licensure, Apprentice or Journey-level, High-school diploma (or equivalent) or Post-Secondary credential, associate’s, bachelor’s, or postgraduate degree.
How long does it take to complete green buildings and energy efficiency training?
It all depends on the specific job requirements. For example, registered apprenticeships are innovative work-based learning and postsecondary earn-and-learn models that meet national standards for registration with the U.S. Department of Labor. Most apprenticeship programs require four to six years of on-the-job training and classroom instruction to earn a journey-level certificate and are sponsored by a trade union or contractor’s association.
Other jobs that are not apprenticeship-based can also provide on-the-job training while earning an income. Certificate and associate’s degree programs can take anywhere from two months to two years to complete and can be found at community colleges or trade and technical institutions. Lastly, some mid and advanced-level jobs do require a four-year degree. Many individuals working in the green buildings and energy efficiency industry seek advanced degrees while working, affecting the amount of time it takes to complete.
Are these realistic career pathways?
We purposely called them routes rather than pathways because they offer a birds-eye guide to tendency and potential. Some advancement routes are straight-forward, which many individuals tend to pursue; other advancement routes, especially those transitioning to other sectors, imply extensive advances in skill, credentials, and education. The green buildings and energy efficiency industry experts who provided the advancement routes shown in the map have seen many individuals advance as suggested. It is up to each individual to determine how far they will advance. The good news is the green buildings and energy efficiency industry provides numerous advancement routes making it an exciting and rewarding career to pursue.
Do I have to start in an entry-level job?
Not necessarily. Career routes in the green buildings and energy efficiency industry don’t always progress from the bottom to the top. Individuals who have already acquired related education and skill sets could enter at mid and advanced levels (e.g., HVAC/R technician, electrician, salesperson, auditor, engineering technician, veteran).
Additionally, there are a number of groups doing excellent work to build bridges and on-ramps for underrepresented populations, and the career map articulates several diverse entry-level jobs to start a career in the green buildings and energy efficiency industry.
Shouldn't my job be located in a different sector or skill level?
Quite possibly. Even probably. Many of these job titles could appear in more than one sector. Indeed, the very nature and scope of a given job may change depending on firm size and market segment (e.g. residential, commercial, industrial, or utility). In fact, some companies become very specialized within a market segment of the green buildings and energy efficiency industry allowing for even greater job and skill-level overlap. Moreover, a recently graduated mechanical engineering student might be practicing at entry-level because of limited, if any, sustainable design experience.
Whatever the designated level of a job title on this map, most occupations include a wide range of skill levels, and could sit higher or lower on the y-axis. As the green buildings and energy efficiency industry continues to advance with technology, workers in all positions will need to update their skills through continuing education or on-the-job-training. Some of this potential variation is addressed in the full job descriptions.