Growing U.S. green building market supports 660K-plus jobs

As part of the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) kick off for the sold out annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo held in Toronto in early October, McGraw-Hill Construction Study released new research saying that green building accounts for 661,000 jobs in the United States—one third of the design and construction workforce.

According to the study, 35 percent of architects, engineers and contractors (AEC) report having green jobs today. That share is expected to increase over the next three years, with 45 percent of all design and construction jobs being green by 2014. “Green jobs are already an important part of the construction labor workforce, and signs are that they will become industry standard,” said Harvey Bernstein, vice president, Industry Insights and Alliances for McGraw-Hill Construction. “These numbers reported by the industry match our Dodge green building market sizing, so as green takes over construction activity, so too will green take over the construction workforce.”

The research also shows that AEC workers report green jobs on the rise at levels that match the McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge green building market sizing:

  • 35 percent of AEC firms focus on green jobs today, in line with the green building market share of 35 percent in 2010.
  • 45 percent of AEC firms expect to have green jobs by 2014, in line with the green building market share of 48 to 50 percent by 2015.
  • Trades jobs (carpenters, HVAC/boilermakers, electricians, concrete/cement masons, and plumbers) are expected to see the greatest growth in green jobs; 15 percent of trades today are green jobs, and this is expected to increase to 25 percent in three years.
  • Green jobs yield advantages such as more opportunity (42 percent) and better career advancement (41 percent), according to respondents.
  • Training is essential for getting and maintaining green jobs; 30 percent of green job workers say they needed major training when they started, and most report that formal education and training programs will continue to be needed. Hiring firms agree—71 percent of hiring decision makers maintain that being green-certified increases competitiveness.

The study is the first to focus exclusively on design and construction professionals and trades workers. “Green jobs” are defined as those involving more than 50 percent of work on green projects or designing and installing uniquely green systems, while excluding support or administrative professionals and manufacturing, production or transportation-related services.

The premier partners for the study include the U.S. Green Building Council and the American Institute of Architects. Other partners include the Society for Marketing Professional Services, National Association of the Remodelers Industry, and the Building & Construction Trades Department of the AFL/CIO.

Further results and insights were shared by Harvey Bernstein at Greenbuild’s “The Green Workforce: Is the Construction Industry Ready for What’s Next?” panel. Michele Russo and Donna Laquidara-Carr also discussed two other new green studies from McGraw-Hill Construction about the benefits of green office buildings and greening existing buildings.


Greenbuild overview
This year’s Greenbuild conference featured four days of networking, educational sessions, green building tours, master speakers and plenary events. About 23,000 delegates walked the 140,208 gross square meters of the North and South building expo floors of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, comprised of 1,700 booths, 20 percent of which were Canadian companies.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office was presented with the 2011 Leadership Award, commemorating the Mayor’s extensive sustainability efforts throughout the city. “So glad USGBC has brought together such an impressive group,” Bloomberg said in his video presentation during the closing plenary. “You will reshape the world.”

This year, 233 exhibitors received USGBC’s Green Exhibitor Award, a voluntary program that encourages sustainable practices on the expo floor above and beyond those required by the Greenbuild Mandatory Exhibition Green Guidelines, the greening requirements all exhibitors must meet or exceed. The Award recognizes the best of sustainable booth construction and tradeshow practices.

“We had a fantastic show in Toronto this year,” said Kimberly Lewis, vice president, conferences and events, USGBC. “We celebrated 10 years of the conference by taking a look at ‘What’s Next’ for green building and the future of our cities and nations. Now, we look to next year in San Francisco, home to technological innovation and new ideas.”

The theme of “automation” was woven through this year’s educational sessions and programming, foreshadowing what’s in store for Greenbuild 2012. LEED Automation emerged as a critical theme for the future of the LEED green building process, and since 2010, USGBC has been working with multiple LEED Automation partners—companies that are streamlining and changing the way LEED projects are documented and certified.

LEED 2012 just completed its second public comment period and is anticipated to launch at Greenbuild 2012, taking place Nov. 13-16, 2012, in San Francisco. Details on the event can be found at or by following @greenbuild on Twitter.