Our team at GBES strives everyday to help you advance your green building career goals. As the calendar resets here in January, let’s pause to check-in on five green building career trends from 2017. We’ll finish with five powerful ideas we hope to see trending in 2018.

2017 Green Building Career Trends


1. Health and Wellness take Center Stage

The most significant trend we participated in first hand was the expansion of ‘green buildings’ into ‘healthy buildings.’ Rating Systems like the WELL Building Standard and Fitwel brought occupant wellness to the forefront of design priorities. The triple bottom line (People, Planet, Profit) always recognized the value of human benefits, but now we have prescriptive and performance paths available to demonstrate that value.

This current of health and wellness is tracking for continued growth over the next three years. If you are an Architect or Sustainability Consultant you need to get familiar with these healthy building rating systems now. Read the GBES blog on Fitwel and start studying to pass the WELL AP credential exam.


2. Great Economy Boosts New (Green) Construction and Ambitious Energy Upgrade Projects

Overall, the global economy is up, and new construction increased, which is good for anyone in the construction trades. To keep your competitive edge, contractors need to level up their expertise in net-zero and passive design practices. Which basically translates into tight building envelopes and unconventional systems design. (Think less moving parts, rather than more).

Previously they served as the holy grail of design for mechanical engineers, and were only accessible to the biggest budgets on the highest profile projects. Today, you too can design Net-Zero and GBES shows you how in our continuing education courses. GBES also helps makes Passive Design not so big and scary. Similar to health and wellness, these ideas are not new, but definitely saw some major spikes in adoption and awareness in 2017.


3. Data Got BIG

Did anyone else get tired of hearing ‘big data’ in 2017? I sure did. It seemed like every problem could be solved by throwing massive amounts of data into the arena, but what did we really get out of all those ones and zeros? For starters, we got more green data centers. No one wants to look more like an energy saver than an energy hog.

One of the streams of data flowing through these centers is building performance data feeding into the ARC platform. Every LEED consultant, especially those specializing in Existing Building Operations and Maintenance, need to be using ARC. You actually don’t have a choice. Upon certification, certified LEED for New Construction projects automatically generate a profile on the ARC platform for seamless recertification via performance data. For a great how-to, watch our one-hour course on ARC and the LEED Performance Path. One really interesting program to evolve out of the ARC platform is LEED for cities certification. Maybe you heard about Washington DC as the first LEED Platinum city. Only made possible through big data.


4. “Resiliency” Starts to Replace “Sustainability”

One of the fundamental principles of being a green building professional is adapting to new paradigms. A pretty big shift is happening right now in our industry to stop using words like green or sustainable. A 2017 highlight of this shift was the free webinar to learn about why the non-profit certification company GreenSeal is avoiding calling anything ‘green.’

Rather, the trendy word in 2017 is Resilient. To call it trendy is to belittle the depth of the concept of resilience, which in my terms is adapting to new paradigms. Therefore, GBES foresees this ‘trend’ solidifying into a cornerstone of our movement of ever-evolving aspiration.

In case you missed Greenbuild Boston 2017, there was a silent bombshell dropped about a new rating system called RELi (say “Rely”). It has broad support from USGBC and GBCI.


5. Groundbreaking Book Published, “Drawdown” by Paul Hawken

If you need a direction to point your boundless altruism, look no further. This book shattered all previous calls to action by positioning 100 global climate change solutions in magnitudes of tons of CO2.  Moreover, it brought social equity into the conversation with sustainability by including solutions like education for girls, family planning, and women smallholders.

New Endeavors for 2018

1. Crosswalks Amongst Complimentary Rating Systems

  • WELL Building Standard for offering premium wellness experiences
  • Fitwel to meet urgent public health needs
  • SITES capable of growing local organic produce
  • EDGE certification brings affordability to emerging markets

Pick one and explore it, or forever be stuck in to ’00s. We are almost breaking into 2020, where the future awaits us and our all carbon challenges click into overdrive. Don’t get left behind talking green when your peers have leap frogged into wellness.


2. More Greenbuilds Around the Globe

  • Europe April 17-18 (1st ever in Europe)
  • Mexico June 19-21 (1st ever in Mexico)
  • India 2018 Dates TBD (est. 2017)
  • China 2018 Dates TBD (est. 2017)

Greenbuild now covers every hemisphere of the globe. No excuses! Register for the premier green building conference on the planet. Low on cash, apply to be a volunteer.


3. Small Data

The explosion of big data was thrilling and opened our minds to limitless possibilities. But who has time to plow through piles of data when our chief mission is to make green buildings? That why savvy professionals are tuning into small data. It works like the ‘less is more’ design mantra of minimalism. Pick 1-3 key metrics that you actually want to improve and change, and only track those inputs. It’s a sure bet to making measurable improvement over getting buried in big data. GBES will be covering this topic more in 2018, so stay tuned to this blog for the latest developments on how to maximize your gains with small data.


4. Explosive Adoption of Optimized Material Disclosure

This is a prediction, and one full of hope and optimism.  These label are what our industry have been waiting for since the inception of LEED. So take advantage of it! These labels are  proof of market transformation.


5. What is More Urgent: Social Justice or Virtual Reality?

This last endeavor is a challenge to you, dear reader. Dig deep in your heart and explore what really matters to your personal mission. Both social justice and virtual reality broke out into the fringes of the green building industry last year. I’m placing my money that one of these will expand into widespread mainstream use. But it depends on our priorities. Will we lead by chasing the latest technology? Or will our legacy be one of compassion and grace?