The growth of green-focused construction is on the rise with no end in sight. “It is driven by the global concern for the environment and the climate,” says Salman Kureishy, Program Director, Business & Professional Programs at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. “I don’t see any let up in the trend toward industry standards becoming more green-compliant.

With so much construction and redevelopment and reconstruction, everybody is now insisting on a green approach.” So, of necessity, the demand for professionals educated and certified in green building standards is also growing dramatically.

LEED is central to the green building trend

The demand for Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited applicants in the North American job market has increased by 46 percent in the last year alone. In Canada, the call for LEED accredited professionals is accelerating even more quickly than in the United States. It’s no surprise that green building and LEED certification go hand in hand. The idea of green buildings has been with us for a long time, but it was not until the LEED standard was released that the practise really began to take off.

“What LEED did when it came out in 2004/2005 was provide a technically valid and supported rating system with independent verification,” says Order of Canada recipient and green building pioneer Stephen Carpenter. “Prior to that, there was a lot of greenwashing. People can claim their buildings are green, but are they really? LEED provides the context to answer that.”

“For people already in the industry looking to move into managerial or supervisory roles, certification is almost always an essential requirement.”

The result is that more and more design, construction, and management firms are specifically looking for employees with LEED Green Associate certification. The Green Associate certification allows professionals to demonstrate and guarantee their expertise in the principles and standards of green building design and operation. Attaining the certification requires passing a standardized test, usually preceded by an in-depth course of study online or in a university setting.

A certification for success

It’s a certification that adds direct value and credibility both for people looking to enter the industry and for those currently working in it but looking to move up. “For people already in the industry looking to move into managerial or supervisory roles, certification is almost always an essential requirement,” says Kureishy. “On the other hand, people who are seeking to change careers, whether they are working in a related or unrelated field, can see the certification as a kind of passport for entry into a new career.”

The influx of pre-trained LEED professionals has been a major boon to an industry where green credibility is increasingly a prerequisite to competing at the top levels. “When LEED first came out,” says Carpenter, “a lot of time was spent retraining designers, construction managers, and tradespeople.

In some cases it was like pulling teeth, but what has absolutely floored me is how quickly the industry has adapted.” Today, people at every level of the design, construction, and operation process must be well educated in green standards. It’s not something that you can just acquire on the job anymore, it’s something you are expected to bring to the hiring table.

LEED provides a globally recognized system for rating green building compliance. Canada is trailing only the United States in LEED-certified projects, and we’re now closing the gap. In the building industry of tomorrow, LEED Green Associate certification is more than just a nice-to-have, it’s a resume essential.