Sustainable Jobs: Places to Put Your Green Degree to Use

The first sustainability degree was offered by Arizona State’s School of Sustainability just over a decade ago. Today, many major universities have created their own programs. These sustainability degrees can fall under nearly every academic discipline, from history to engineering and are offered as majors, minors, or even masters degrees.

However, this broad scope can sometimes make it difficult to narrow down your options in the business world. Here are four areas of business where your green degree sets you apart.

Design

From interior decorating to high fashion, the green movement has made its mark. The movement has revolutionized the materials and processing in industrial fields and enhanced the recycling actions in others.

Whether your interest lies with solar-powered, self-sustaining houses, or fashionable and comfortable clothing created from recyclables, the design world is a great place for you to use your education in other fields, such as engineering and urban planning, hand in hand.

Corporate Innovation

More and more corporations are becoming aware of their environmental impact. Many of them are taking steps to increase their sustainability and decrease their dependence on traditional fuel options and environmentally hazardous procedures. Most of these corporations, however, don’t really know where to start.

Some have allocated manpower they already have to the task, but many are reaching out to individuals with training just like yours though something should be done about the ridiculously high prices of college textbooks, a major hurdle for many students to get a college education in the first place!

Corporations are taking on sustainability consultants and creating directors positions within their company to take their sustainability efforts to the next level. These are particularly good job choices if you have a background in management, economics, business, or law.

Practical Sustainability

Many companies have transitioned toward more eco-friendly processes and policies. Waste collecting agencies, such as King Recycling and Waste Disposal, now ensure proper recycling of materials. Manufacturers, such as Plastic Free Bottles, create new products and processes to minimize the impact on the environment. Even food companies and breweries, such as New Belgium Brewing Company, are earning recognition for their green efforts.

Like major corporations, these companies are taking on consultants, engineers, and educators to aid in their quest for sustainability and we see that computer-based education, specifically in these fields, plays an increasingly vital role. The possibilities here are nearly endless—whether your interests are in improving agricultural processes, or designing alternatives to plastics, there is a company looking for someone with your skills and education.

Government

Some advances have been made in legislation and awareness, but that doesn’t mean there are fewer government jobs available for those with green degrees. If you’re interested in changing policies and putting your degree to work for the good of the people, there have never been more jobs working to assist lobbyists, nonprofits, and politicians than there are right now. Or, if you’re a bit more ambitious, becoming a lobbyist, organizing a nonprofit organization, or beginning a political career are also great options for your degree, though, with our current administration, things seem to get a bit harder…

Over the last years, there was some speculation that students investing their time and money in sustainability degrees might be taking a significant risk. The growth since then has proved that the value of degrees which “promote human prosperity and well-being for all, while protecting and enhancing the earth’s life support systems” is irrefutable (definition provided by Arizona State’s School of Sustainability).

Did you know that…

  • A single kitchen or bathroom ventilation fan can pull out an entire household of warmed or cooled air in just one hour!
  • Eating less meat is a great way to save on natural resources.
  • Replacing one 100-watt incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) saves 600 pounds of coal!
  • Leaving your fireplace flue damper open during the winter is like keeping a 48-inch window wide open all winter!
  • Taking a 5-minute shower can save 5-15 gallons of water as compared to taking a bath. This is one of the inexpensive ways to go green in your home.
  • If 50 percent of U.S. households would replace their TV with an ENERGY STAR-labeled model, it would mean we could shut down one power plant!
  • If all U.S. households would replace their light fixtures or bulbs with ENERGY STAR-labeled models, we would be saving over 8 billion kWh of power and remove the air pollution equivalent of some 1.2 million cars for a year!
  • You don’t need a “smart home”. What you need is a “smart office”.

There are many simple ways for residential energy consumers to save money while saving energy:

  • Turn off the lights when you leave the room and this also applies to your workplace!
  • Switch from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps.
  • Set thermostats slightly higher in the summertime and slightly lower in wintertime.
  • Reduce hot water temp to 110º (130º at the most).
  • Install water flow restrictors and aerators in sink faucets.
  • Reduce lighting – removing lamps where there’s more light than needed and turning off lights that are not in use.
  • Seal heating and cooling ductwork.
  • Wrap the hot water tank with a jacket.
  • Replace air filters regularly and follow maintenance schedule for furnace and air conditioning equipment.
  • Install programmable thermostats. See also: Tips to save on your energy bills.
  • Install automatic room-lighting controls.
  • Seal off unused areas of your home and don’t heat or cool those areas.
  • Turn off machines and equipment when not in use.
  • Use ENERGY STAR qualified products.
  • Seal exterior cracks and holes and ensure tight-fitting windows.
  • Shade sun-exposed windows and building walls.
  • Repaint building exteriors with light colors.
  • Keep exterior doors, both at home and in the office, closed if you can.
  • Block and insulate unneeded windows and other openings.
  • Install removable insulation on uninsulated valves, pipes, and fittings to reduce losses in the process heat distribution system.
  • Last but not least: travel more eco-friendly and reduce your footprint!