Growing demand for green buildings highlights lack of skilled labor

May 21, 2012

The rise in interest for green buildings in the commercial real estate sector has highlighted the increasing number of companies who are looking toward sustainability as a cost-cutting measure, according to a recent report. However, this has also led to the realization that the construction market may not be keeping up with the demand, according to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The report, dubbed "Construction Industry Workforce Shortages: Role of Certification, Training and Green Jobs in Filling the Gaps," found that 69 percent of architect, engineer and contractor professionals expect there to be a labor shortage in the industry in the next three years. This problem has been exacerbated by the rising demand for retrofitting projects and new construction.

Although the report highlighted how the green industry is beginning to account for a large percentage of employment within the design and construction sector, and training programs and classes are helping to bridge the current gap that exists for qualified workers in the industry.

Roger Platt, the senior vice president of global policy and law for the USGBC, noted that the report shows supportive of all industries a green building boom can be.

"Green buildings are a clear-cut smart investment in the current economic climate because they create financial returns, have environmental benefits and positively impact job creation. Job creation and economic stability are crucial to supporting resilient and strong communities, and green buildings support the jobs of the future," Platt said.

Platt also noted that the green construction sector has avoided the pitfalls associated with the overall real estate market, as there has been growth in the industry and companies are struggling to keep up with demand.

According to the USGBC, the number green jobs will continue to rise in the coming years, and specific sectors like energy efficient construction and retrofitting will support this growth.

The U.S. Department of Energy is trying to sustain this growth in the sector, and it has designated an effort to promote green building in the commercial real estate market.

The Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is working to promote the use of green buildings and technology in the commercial market. This will be done through the demonstration of the effectiveness of retrofitting projects and sustainable construction practices.