Green Building

As the call for a more a greener country gets louder, local governments are turning to city planners and architects to make their communities more “green.”

According to the American Planning Association, wetlands restoration, stormwater management, transportation, and urban design are coming to the forefront of the profession.

In the building industry the trend is a shift toward “new urbanism,” ( which emphasizes sustainable and transit-oriented development. This trend is growing particularly in California and the Pacific Northwest.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has developed a new rating system for urban planners, designers, architects, and construction firms, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The LEED encourages global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria. LEED is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings.
LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health:

  • Sustainable site development
  • Water savings
  • Energy efficiency
  • Materials selection
  • ndoor environmental quality.

Most employers in the Green Architecture Industry will hire architects with relevant experience upon completion of LEED certification.

Urban Planning Education

Urban planning has always been an important part of the university curriculum in America. Usually falling under the heading of engineering, urban planning, with the emergence of he Green Industry, is now its own department in many universities across the country.

Top Universities for Urban Planning

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Rutgers University
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Cornell University
  • Harvard University
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of Southern California

Architectural Schools across America are slowly adapting to the burgeoning Green Industry. Green Architecture, when it is offered, is still found as a concentration in University Architectural Programs. Many architectural programs at U.S. universities, like Yale, are partnering with Ecology and Environmental Science program to develop new Green Architecture programs and degrees.

Other top universities for Green Architecture are:

  • University of California College of Environmental Design
  • California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo
  • University of Cincinnati College of Design, Art, Architecture & Planning
  • University of Michigan, Alfred A. Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
  • University of Oregon Department of Architecture
  • The Earth Institute at Columbia University
  • Virginia Polytechnic College of Architecture and Urban Studies
  • University of Washington College Of Architecture and Urban Planning
  • Washington State University Interdisciplinary Design Institute
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Green Building Professional Outlook

The Green Building Council reports that the domestic green building industry increased net sales by more than $5 billion dollars during 2006 and 2007 and currently sits at a whopping $12 billion.

Those statistics qualify Green Planning and Architecture as a growth industry.
Due to the “green” wave in our country, many states are mandating that all new public construction be LEED-certified. USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system, which once applied primarily to commercial buildings, has now been adapted to homes, retail, schools and healthcare buildings, has created a need for more LEED-accredited professionals and other green industry engineers, contractors, architects and designers. All this information leads to one thing: more green collar jobs.

The requirements for an entry-level position as a Green Urban Planner include:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Planning and Design, Architecture, Engineering, Construction Management, Environmental Science, or a related field.
  • Experience in project management or planning, or in the Green Planning and Design field.
  • LEED certification.

The requirements of an entry-level Green Architect position include:

  • An advanced degree (preferred) or bachelor’s degree in Architecture.
  • Experience in architectural design.
  • LEED certification.


Parks Planner

Parks Planners survey land for state and local governments to use for recreational parks. They develop outlines and strategies for placement and structure, and implement and oversee the construction of their designs. Depending on region and experience, parks planners can make $40,000-50,000 per year, and some who work on larger projects can make in the six figure range.

Urban/Land Use Planner

The number of jobs for planners is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations over the next decade (BLS).
Urban/Land Use Planners in the green industry are responsible for the outlining and development of city and town space. They are involved in the business planning and construction efforts of various projects. Urban planners work closely with governmental officials ensuring compliance with industry standards. The average salary of an Urban/ Land Use Planner is $37,000-50,000 per year. Most companies require an engineering degree and experience in related fields.

Green Architects

The goal of green architects is to reduce the negative impact that building and construction can have on our environment through energy and resource efficiency. The salary of an architect can vary greatly, depending on field and location, ranging from $45,000-80,000. Of course, as experience grows, so will salary.
Architects must be licensed before they can practice. In order to get a license, an aspiring architect needs to fulfill these three requirements:

  • A degree in architecture.
  • Completion of an internship/apprenticeship.
  • Completion of a licensing exam.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the need for more architects due to new approaches to green Building, the number of jobs for architects will grow faster over the next decade.

Landscape Architect Jobs

The primary responsibility of a Landscape Architect is to create environment friendly parks and recreation areas. Included in these designs are areas for exercise, nature observation, picnics, sports, and other outdoor-related activities. Landscape architects also work with environmental scientists to find the best way to conserve or restore natural resources. Most states require Landscape architects to be licensed or registered.
The salary range for Landscape architects is $45,000 – 75,000.

In addition, most companies look for the following qualifications in a Landscape Architect:

  • Masters Degree in Landscape Architecture or Civil Engineering.
  • Professional registration.
  • Some companies will require LEED certification.

With the growing desire for a cleaner environment and new environmental laws, the need for experienced landscape architects will grow.


  • U.S. Green Building Council
  • Developers of the LEED building rating system.
  • American Planning Association
  • International City / County Management Association (ICMA)
  • Sustainable Buildings Industry Council
  • New Urbanism
Sign up for our newsletter!