Update to part 1
In part 1 of this answer, I offered ideas for you to evolve a sustainable design job out of a conventional design job. Since I wrote that post, I’ve come across a few additional pointers on converting a conventional design job into a sustainable design job. First, a new group called the Designer’s Accord offers a set of “tips” for breaking the ice on environmental aspects of design (I’ve also written about them in my manifestos post). Their tips are primarily for introducing the issue to clients, but some of their ideas such as the “physical prompt”/show-and-tell could also work well for the budding sustainable designer in a conventional design job.
Second, I came across an article by Russell Fortmeyer in Architectural Record (november 2007) that profiles some designers who’ve become sustainability managers in architectural practices. Some of those interviewed for the piece suggest other strategies to would-be sustainable designers:
- Get involved in sustainable design outside your firm, for example by becoming active in the AIA’s Committee on the Environment (COTE), The IDSA’s environment section, or similar.
- Get involved in sustainability-oriented committees or groups that work on issues in the community where your firm operates. This benefits your knowledge base, but also gives your firm, even though it is you and not your firm participating, a certain profile. This profile may cause the topic of sustainability to come up in ways that don’t involve you brining it up.
With all the recent talk about climate change and stabilizing the climate quickly, there has also been a great deal of talk about the increase in “green” jobs. But last week I came across an interesting post on Worldchanging by Joel Makower titled “Where Are All the Clean, Green Jobs?” suggesting that the numbers of these jobs has actually not grown much. This confirms my suspicion that we are still at the “talk” stage and not at the “walk the talk” stage, meaning that by and large you have to go in to a job on a conventional path and apply an intelligent and sensitive strategy once you are in.