More professionals seek training as green building booms

As demand for environmentally friendly construction increases rapidly, it is creating the issue of having enough trained professionals to perform the work, according to

Professionals who construct green buildings need to know a variety of things, including where to obtain recycled materials and how a building can maximize natural heating and cooling. As a result, trade groups are offering more training in green techniques, and professionals are rushing to learn more.

"Every developer I have ever met has told me that educating their team on green is crucial," says Kristen Bacorn, a green building consultant and director of sales for Urban Sanctuary, New York. "Green is such a new and developing field that professionals don’t necessarily know it, and they're craving education."

Consumers are becoming more interested in buildings with environmentally friendly features, and government regulations are aiding the growth of green building. Therefore, builders who do not learn green construction techniques could be at a disadvantage.

"I think builders who can say they are a certified green professional have a leg up on the market," says Philip LaRocque, executive vice president of the New York State Builders Association. "As new-home sales plummet, [green homes are] penetrating a much higher percentage of the marketplace."

Liability issues also are a factor pushing builders to educate themselves. Green building jobs have been botched because of a lack of knowledge and subsequently led to lawsuits or insurance claims.

There has been an increase in certifications—the number of professionals certified by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professionals doubled from 30,000 to more than 60,000 during the past two years. However, that still is a small percentage of all professionals involved in the U.S. construction industry.

In response to increasing demand, various organizations and associations have started offering green educational courses and increasing the number of green training opportunities. For example, USBGC used to offer about 10 courses per month with about 60 attendees per class. It now offers about 50 courses per month and has a maximum of 80 attendees per class.

Michael Deane, chief sustainability officer for Turner Construction Co., New York, says if contractors or subcontractors don't keep up and learn green building practices, they could be out of business in a market where green building is becoming commonplace.

"I think that green buildings, and in particular LEED buildings, are going to become the new normal," he says.

Date : 11/20/2008