Explore environmental careers.
Sustainable architects oversee the design and construction of buildings with a focus on the role a structure will play in its environment. For example, sustainable architects try to use only construction materials that won’t contribute to landfills, as well as making certain all the building’s systems and equipment have high energy-efficiency ratings. A sustainable architect’s primary goal is to create attractive, affordable, and comfortable buildings that do not harm the environment, either during their construction or their lifetime.
At a glanceImagine you are standing amid a group of onlookers admiring the magnificent new City Hall building. You are a sustainable architect and this classic structure is your latest creation. Two years ago, members of city council asked you to design a replacement for the old City Hall, which was becoming too small. The council asked you to design not only a larger space but an environmentally friendly building to demonstrate the City's commitment to conserving and protecting the environment. After many revisions to the plans, many meetings with structural engineers and builders, and many months of construction, the building is finished. Based on your innovative design, the new City Hall is a model for sustainable building. As a sustainable architect, you had to fulfill a number of objectives when designing the new City Hall it was a challenging project. To begin, council needed more space but didn't want to build an imposing megastructure that dominated the landscape, so one of your design priorities was a building that had a positive impact on its environment while meeting council's space needs. Next, you focused on resource efficiency: you tried to use only materials produced locally, to reduce dependency on truck transportation and the pollution trucks contribute. You selected durable materials that won't need to be replaced often and avoided anything from non-renewable resources. You also concentrated on improving energy efficiency and providing healthy indoor air. The new building relies primarily on natural ventilation and has huge windows that capitalize on natural light. You incorporated solar energy, water-conserving bathrooms, and the most energy-efficient climate control system on the market. You've used every opportunity to conserve energy and water and reduce emissions with spectacular results.
Job dutiesDuties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a sustainable architect:
- Review relevant regulations from authorities having jurisdiction over a particular site or project.
- Analyze information from project clients regarding soil conditions, site topography, and local weather conditions.
- Consult with clients to determine functional and spatial requirements for a structure, as well as project budgets.
- Assemble and lead a project team, including coordinating contributions from different disciplines into a comprehensive project plan.
- Prepare information regarding design, structure specifications, materials, colour, equipment, estimated costs, and construction design.
- Prepare scale drawings of projects.
- Prepare contract documents for building contractors.
- Prepare operation and maintenance manuals, studies, and reports.
- Conduct periodic site inspections during construction to monitor compliance with architectural plans.
- Research new building technology.
Work environmentSustainable architects work in a variety of locations, including: In the office:
- Doing paperwork, administering contracts, and preparing reports
- Developing plans and construction details and coordinating with other disciplines
- Communicating on the phone and in meetings with clients, stakeholders, government departments, colleagues, consultants, and suppliers
- Researching new technology and advancements in building
- Travelling to and conducting field inspections of sites for general conformance with construction documents
- Making presentations to stakeholders, clients, contractors, and the public
- Responding to requests from clients
Where to workThere are a number of places sustainable architects can find employment. They include:
- Architecture firms
- Colleges and universities
- Private consulting firms
- Product development and sales
Education & requirementsIf you are a high school student considering a career as a sustainable architect, you should have strong marks or an interest in:
- Social Studies
- Environmental Design
- Environmental Planning
- Sustainable Development
- Mechanical Engineering
- Environmental Engineering