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Greensburg GreenTown is a charitable nonprofit organization working in Greensburg, Kansas to rebuild the town following the devastating tornado in May of 2007. The town has made a remarkable comeback, reinventing itself as a model for sustainable building and green living now recognized around the world. GreenTown works to make green building and living easily understood, appealing and accessible to all.

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Thursday
Sep062012

Sustainability and the Job Market

A background in sustainability is becoming a valuable asset in the job market. The U.S. Department of Labor cites several reasons why companies have adopted a more sustainable focus. First and foremost, being sustainable saves money. Companies can reduce their expenditures on oil and other energy costs by operating in a sustainable manner. Secondly, consumers are increasingly interested in supporting sustainable firms. Online tools like Good Guide are readily to available help customers monitor what different companies value, so they can determine where to spend their money. Finally, firms that observe sustainable practices have an easier time complying with state and federal regulations. These incentives to be sustainable have resulted in adding a sustainability component to positions at companies that didn’t formerly have them, including chief executives in sustainability, transportation managers, industrial production managers, and more. In 2009, 75 percent of respondents to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics engaged in sustainable practices, which is double the percentage from the 2006 survey. Another 61 percent of respondents report having a person or team dedicated to sustainability. As the Department of Labor notes, “Sustainability is becoming part of how companies do business in the United States, rather than being viewed as a cost.”

With the new availability of these positions, several sustainability training programs have cropped up as well. St. Louis University, which is co-sponsoring our Sustainable Disaster Recovery Conference October 29-30, offers a masters degree in sustainability. My alma mater, Bard College, started offering an MBA in Sustainability this year.  Other U.S. universities including Yale, Stanford, and the University of California-Berkeley offer MBAs in Sustainability as well. If going back to school isn’t in the cards for you, supplementary sustainability training programs have become more common recently. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) offers in-person training as well as webinars and other e-learning options pertaining to sustainability. TRESTA, The Renewable Skills Training Academy, recently opened in Scotland appealing to “School leavers/young people, those seeking work, people wishing to retrain or up skill, anyone currently employed in, or wanting to work in the renewable energy sector.”  Finally, if you stop by Greensburg GreenTown’s Silo Home, you can get a crash course in all the sustainable features we use here, as well as ideas about how to incorporate them into your life! Learning about sustainability is at your fingertips because you’re at a computer. Or it’s a short walk away if you live in Greensburg.

Image from the Bureau of Labor Statistics