Since the 1960s, the need for sustainability in the modern architectural domain has enhanced dramatically with the introduction of what has been referred to as “Green Buildings”. Today’s ecologically conscious world calls for using innovative techniques while developing buildings that are environmentally friendly; thereby, lowering the adverse effects of construction through factors like efficient energy consumption and development space.
By addressing the undesirable and unfavourable impacts of buildings, sustainable architecture takes into account design technologies, development space and energy that do not pose harm to the environment or the ecosystem. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), sustainable architecture aims at limiting the wastage of energy and water. To reach maximum energy efficiency, sustainable architects construct buildings out of recyclable or renewable materials.
In an effort to preserve the environment from practices that are detrimental to the community, the need for sustainable architecture has increased by leaps and bounds in the recent past. Sustainable architects supervise the construction and design of buildings with a focus on the effect the structure will have on the environment. For instance, they will use building materials that will not cause landfills; and will ascertain that the practices and equipment they deploy are energy efficient.
As part of their jobs, sustainable architects are responsible for reviewing regulations handed down from authorities that have jurisdiction in the particular project site; making certain that factors like soil and weather conditions and topography are analysed at length before commencing the construction. Regularly consulting clients about their spatial and functional requirements and budgets; as well as integrating different aspects of the construction process into a single project plan only lead to further efficiency and cost saving.
As per the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the most basic prerequisite to pursue a career in sustainable architecture is a bachelor’s degree. Some of the graduate-level programs also require completing certain number of studio hours, which allows students to apply their skills in drafting and design techniques. Those interested in pursuing graduate education in the domain can explore concentrations like ecology, environmental technology and sustainable design. One can also look into landscape design programs – with courses like, but not limited to horticulture, site planning, geology and visual design. Post-secondary applicants seeking a career in sustainable architecture can consider enrolling in programs like architecture, sustainable development, mechanical engineering, environmental design and planning and environmental engineering.
Some of the top universities offering graduate courses in sustainable architecture include Harvard University, Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University and University of Texas.
Recently, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program (LEED) was set up by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), which offers qualified individuals the certification to be a LEED Green Associate. BLS also mandates those considering a career in sustainable architecture to have relevant license(s).
Those considering a career in sustainable architecture can seek employment opportunities in, both, private and public sectors. One can get jobs in a variety of roles – including, but not limited to, project designer and architect, architectural service management, transit architect and interior designer – at architectural firms, consulting firms, engineering firms, educational services, and building, developing and general contracting.
At entry level, sustainable architects can earn up to $45,000 a year. On the other hand, the salary range of those with adequate professional experience in the domain lies within $80,000 and $85,000 a year.