Top 10 Tips for Green Building Careers

By Danielle Crownover
Sustainability Analyst
Sustainable Investment Group (SIG)

tips on green building careersWhen working on a green building project and wanting to get into the field or even having a few questions on green advocacy, communicating the specifics of a problem, as well as who to ask can prove to be an intimidating task. The purpose of this blog is to analyze advice given by different professionals with experience in the green building field via a series of podcasts. Only the top 10 pointers will be given in this blog, however, many more answers can be found at the GBES website listed below!

The name of the person that gave the advice will be listed first, followed by the podcast number in which they appear, followed by their advice. Several people may be listed under the same category of advice because it is a re-occurring topic.

1. Collaboration: Working together accomplishes a greater goal then working at it alone.

Caroline Verut, (podcast 82) – “I really believe that we need to do it together. Together as a world community.”

Denise Braun (podcast 90) – “To do more collaborate work. Everything should be correlated.”

2. Dive in: Getting a head-start will give you a momentum and drive to move forward.

Chris Webb (podcast 64) – “Dive in and show something is possible by just doing it and not seeking out permission of others. You got to be smart, you got to apply good principles and bring your best thinking. This industry is changing so quickly and that new input and energy and prospective that comes is what is going to make the industry what it is a few years from now. Be part of that evolution.”

Brad Pease (podcast 77) – “There’s plenty of opportunities, you just have to go dig in and plan them. It’s about finding your niche within that market that allows you to make an impact and also trying to experiment and fail as much as you can until you find that spot.”

Dean D’ Angelo (podcast 89) – “Get involved. Get out there. If you’re working for an architect or an engineer or contractor. Raise your hand. Get on that LEED project. Get involved any way you can. Get to GBES and get your Green Associate. Get started. Get that credential and then see where your passion is. Do you like new construction? Or are you interested in retrofitting and existing buildings? Are you a planner? Is it neighborhood developments for you? Find that path. Just get in. Get your feet in. Get started. Get involved because here at GBES we help over 130,000 professionals with their LEED credentials considering right now there’s 200,000 plus in the world and it’s a small number. We have many more people who can become a part of this green building movement. So, you’re not late. You’re at the beginning or a middle of the beginning. So, jump in and get involved. Get on the green team and get started.”

3. Know your impact: Knowing the power of your impact adds to your ability to speak powerfully about your passion.

Matt Daigle (podcast 84) – “This area is something that’s so fun. Millennials are making an impact. Now is the time.”

Teresa Coady (podcast 86) – “All young people just need to know their own power and that everyone in our construction industry has a huge impact. We design and build buildings but also different roads, park lands, under the bridges, all the utilities and all of the parks and palaces that service them and we are, we shift our planet. And we have a great impact. We are the stewards we are the intelligence of the planet. So, we need to take action.”

4. Finding solutions for gaps: If there is a gap between two areas of interest, bridge this to form a fluid picture.

Prasad Vaidya (podcast 76) – “As a professional, you need to really be sensitive, listen and find those gaps. There are technical gaps, there are social gaps, they are things that would give you real creative solutions when you look for them.”

5. Branch out: Branching out will expose you to new ideas and people to help build a better foundation.

Erik Ring (podcast 66) – “Don’t be afraid to kind of wonder and explore a little bit. I think that’s healthy especially in your career to kind of try different things and investigate different areas and really figure it out no matter what you like and what you’re good at and where you think you’d be happy.”

Susan El-Naggar (podcast 70) – “Start looking for information about green design and green building movement in articles, newsletters and sustainable sections, to become more interested and grow in that area. Be a part of a larger group of people who are in the green movement like GBES which has a great study guide.”

6. Identify your audience: Knowing the type of person or persons you are speaking to will aid in communication.

Tommy Linstroth (podcast 47) – “Know your audience and know how to communicate to them. Everybody has their own agenda and if you want to be heard you need to make sure you’re talking in a language that those people care about.”

Heather Holdridge (podcast 61) – “Working with passionate people is inspiring and fun to work with. The professions that you’re trying to pursue please don’t let that be a deterrent, we need more diversity and projector and design and engineering and construction. Having that diversity of thought will make our work that much better.”

Holley Henderson (podcast 62) – “It’s not about you. Figuring out whatever audiences that you’re in front of, whether you’re speaking or you’re trying to sell them something or whatever. It’s all about them. Be positive, be a role motivator and keep people engaged long term.”

7. Travel and get exposed: Seeing problems from a different perspective may help with determining a solution.

Vivian Loftness (podcast 38) – “Follow your passion and when you write your masters list, pick a topic that is of critical interest to you because you build on that days forever and ever. Take pictures of all the places that you love and use those pictures to try to build an understanding or even a book about the power of cultural craftsmanship.”

John Harrison (podcast 54) – “Travel and see the world so you can be influenced. Study abroad, see the world, study the way other people look at things.”

8. Find passion in your work: If you are interested in your topic, you are more likely to excel in it.

Daniel Dreher (podcast 25) – “Find an area where you’re passionate. Figure out what our hero’s journey is and find a way not to have an excuse for pursuing that and making it real. Go build your dream and do it in a way that you’re uplifting as many people as you can. This is the one shot. The time is now, the need is now and just go for it and I’ll meet you there.”

Bill Spohn (podcast 27) – “Look at the personal aspect. See what’s inside of you. If it is a party or career. There’s probably something inside of you that is driving that. Try to do some things that’s on your own or a personal responsibility. Responsible use of energy or get involve in the sneezing twice a week. If you really got it in you, you have some stories to tell. Reach out there. Bring it up.”

Amanda Madrid (podcast 35) – “ When you get out of bed, and you sit at the edge of your bed you have to get up and say and feel like what you’re going to do and accomplish today is something that you absolutely love and want to do. Educating yourself is important no matter how old you are. Listening and being respectful is important. Knowing when to be quiet and just learn is important in a lot of people. In your career, when you start out, whatever that is, be humble. Do not act like you know it all. Not being entitled will get you very, very far in your career. Be conscious of what’s around you for sustainability purposes. Learn to look behind you sometimes because you don’t know what you’re leaving behind.”

9. Expose yourself to education early: Having a foot in the door will put you at an advantage entering the field.

Charlie Cichetti (podcast 9) – “If you want to get in the committees, and volunteer or go to a conference, speak up. Ask, it never hurts to ask. Fake it, until you make it. Have confidence. Who better to do that than you. It’s not too late. Get a credential because that does give you validation that you know more or some more without credential. Get a credential at least a LEED Green Associate.”

Michael Bean Jr. (podcast 20) – “Start your education early. Don’t stop learning. You have to pursue things. You have to learn more. It’s never too late to pursue something new. Always believe that when you have a voice, you have an obligation and use that voice to empower others.”

10. Find and establish relationships with mentors: Having a relationship with someone already in the field will prove useful in aiding your journey.

Arol Wolford (podcast 4) – “If you have good mentors and can be humble enough to listen to those mentors, that is really important. Finding mentors in business is really very important.”

Michaella Wittmann (podcast 44) – “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and challenge yourself. Try to get a comprehensive look at your options and your opportunity. Talk to people who are doing something cool in the specific area that you love.”

Additional information on the above podcasts can be found at:

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