Magazine article Techniques

CTE Students See: The Green in New Construction Jobs

Magazine article Techniques

CTE Students See: The Green in New Construction Jobs

Article excerpt

The construction industry has long been a leader in predicting economic prosperity and in responding to customers' needs. The last few years have been no exception, especially for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). In these last few years, the association has managed to assemble the only ANSI-approved standards for green construction in the nation. During this time and with an eye toward the future, NAHB and its workforce development arm, the Home Builders Institute (HBI), have been assessing the growth opportunities of the industry and preparing for the demands of a green economy.

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Green construction is one aspect of the building sector that continues to gain steam. "Green" can take many forms, both structurally and operationally, including the reduction of waste, pollution and the impact on the environment; more efficient use of energy, water and other resources; and using products that protect the health of the occupants while creating a safe environment. While new technologies are constantly being developed to complement current practices in creating greener structures, the overarching concept is that green buildings are designed to reduce the impact of the building to the environment and to the people who occupy the space. Looking ahead, as new approaches to green construction are refined and become more accessible to consumers, the corresponding demand for skilled workers will grow.

The Growth of Green

The genesis of the green movement took root in the 1970s as a response to the oil, gas and energy crisis. At that time our country was searching for a way to be less dependent on oil-related and energy-rich products, and manufacturers responded to consumer demand with an array of energy and environmentally sensitive products--including products for homes and home construction. Today, the economics of the green sector have taken root and are creating new jobs. In the last five years alone, the green housing market has grown from $2 billion in 2005 to almost $60 billion in 2010, according to estimates by NAHB and McGraw-Hill Construction.

To further stimulate jobs in this emerging industry, the Obama Administration designated $5 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to weatherize more than 1 million homes through the Weatherization Assistance Program. In addition, legislation currently in Congress is expected to fund the new Home Star program. The Home Star legislation provides business opportunities for homebuilders, remodelers and contractors through financial incentives given to consumers for home weatherization and retrofitting projects.

The housing market is primed for these improvements, as many of the 128 million homes in this country were constructed before modern energy and building codes were established. These homes often suffer from performance problems ranging from excess energy consumption and inadequate thermal comfort to indoor air quality issues. NAHB estimates that every $1 billion in new remodeling and home improvement activity generates 11,000 jobs, $527 million in wages and salaries, and $300 million in business income.

For the Homebuilding industry, green construction is no longer a trend, but the key to the future. In addition to new careers, such as weatherization specialists and solar panel installers, there has been a more general shift to green building practices across traditional trade areas. …

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