Sustainable trends are growing across a variety of industries, and the field of architecture is no exception. Green design involves the use of resources like energy and water in an efficient way, waste and pollution reduction, as well as conservation. Experts in environmentally friendly design are trained to use specifications and building materials in a way that helps achieve these goals.
Today, an increasing number of individuals and businesses hire sustainable design experts to draft environmentally conscious plans for their homes or offices, and green construction companies to build them.
This drive is a product of the decades-long ecological movement that recognized the damage to our planet from uncontrollable or unregulated economic activity and from wasteful use of limited resources. Its goal has been to raise awareness about the need to save resources, recycle and use alternative energy sources whenever and wherever possible. Over time, manufacturers of everything from deodorants to home appliances have responded by developing lines of cleaner, more energy efficient products.
In the field of construction, the use of solar panels, wind turbines, better insulation, electricity-saving light fixtures, and local resources are only some of the ways in which architects, contractors, home- and business owners have tried to create buildings that have a lower carbon footprint.
In recent years, the combination of long-established environmentalism and the economic downturn, has prompted governments from the local to the federal level to promote the use of green building resources and technologies. The reason for this simple. Sustainable buildings tend to cost less in both the short and in the long run. During the building process, the expenses may be reduced by purchasing materials – such as timber, stone or glass – from local vendors rather than having them shipped from overseas. Once the building is in use, better insulation and the use of renewable energy sources can significantly lower monthly heating, air conditioning and electricity bills. According to some estimates, businesses that upgrade their buildings stand to save as much as $100 billion in lower energy bills over the next decade.
At long last, the governments across America are waking up to the potential of sustainable technology to revive the economy, provide jobs, and reduce carbon emissions. Millions of dollars have been set aside in subsidies, grants, tax breaks and financing available through public-private partnerships for those who develop and use green technologies.
Meanwhile, construction industry professionals are making sure that their skills match the demands of today’s labor market. More and more academic programs – including architecture, urban design and engineering – offer courses and entire degree programs that emphasize sustainability. Moreover, workers have the option of boosting their sustainability credentials by acquiring certifications such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).