I write about green and sustainability subjects, from whales to widgets, most often focusing on New York City and the real estate, building and design industries and how green affects property value. But with so much change going in the planet – land and sea, climate, technology, laws and restrictions, energy types and usage and a myriad of other areas – it’s interesting to explore what green jobs are geared up for the greatest growth.
If you’re looking to enhance your professional credentials, make a career segue or change, or are just starting out to find a compatible path, here are some considerations.
Using National Geographic as our primary source, their first pick for one the fastest-growing green jobs is a subject I’ve explored – urban farmers to which I’ll add beekeepers. Whether urban farms such as the Brooklyn Grange at the Navy Yard, or ecological green roof such as at the Javits Center, urban farming has become a green job specialty. You can add underground, hydroponic and river barge farms as subspecialties.
Next up according to NG are water quality technicians. Even New York City’s famous water goes through numerous quality checks to prevent pollutants from getting into it on its way from the Catskill/Delaware watershed.
With manufacturing topping the list for the majority of green jobs (about 1/6 of the U.S. total), the design and engineering of new “clean” cars that reduce air pollution and reliance on non-renewable fuels is a fast-growth area.
Next is recycling where paper especially is a success story in the U.S., followed by (no surprise here) scientists who will analyze, measure and recommend new ways to create sustainable environments.
Green builders is one of my favorite growth areas. This is about more than green roofs, carpet from recycled materials, thoughtful energy usage, new forms of energy, even net-zero in New York City. It’s also about absorbable concrete, homes made of discarded materials, structures using easily renewable bamboo, recycled steel, reclaimed wood, sheep’s wool insulation. We’re not going back to thatch roofs and peat fires, but you get the idea. Aligned with green builders are green designers who understand and appreciate the nuances of building beautifully and sustainably.
Solar scientists and technicians are a big growth area, as are new forms of energy production such as from ocean waves and combustion, as well as wind energy workers. Biofuels wind up National Geographic’s list.
Other sites added conservation biologists, environmental educators and urban planners.
I’m going to add some other growth areas including environmental marketers, writers, social media mavens, graphic designers, artists – the people who can communicate even the most complex scientific principles through words and visuals.
Lastly, I have to acknowledge my own profession which is commercial real estate appraisal, especially in light of my being a LEED-AP BD+C and the only such appraiser accredited in New York City. The tremendous growth of green buildings has led to a demand by property owners, government agencies and financial institutions for the art and science of appraising green buildings. It’s a growth career with outstanding opportunities to consider.
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Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services