Green Living: Buildings & Careers

What's the problem?

According to the EPA, US buildings account for the following percentages nationally: 39% of total energy use, 12% of the total water consumption, 68% of total electricity consumption, 38% of the carbon dioxide emissions. Buildings that are built and operated in ways that are not environmentally-friendly often contain unhealthy indoor environments. Toxic chemicals are emitted from materials like paint and carpeting can cause many health problems, like fatigue, headaches, drowsiness, and more. On top of this, buildings produce tons of carbon emissions, contributing even more to climate change and emitting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Why should we care?

The development and quick growth of larger communities has had a major impact on the surrounding natural environment. “Green Builders" are beginning to focus on the design, construction and large-scale manufacturing of green buildings that could provide individuals with a more responsible way to consume natural resources. As we continue to expand and build communities, Green Building is not the only industry that has experienced a large boom. More and more professionals have been focusing on green careers in a variety of industries. Green Careers are jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment, or jobs in which workers' duties involve making their production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer resources.

According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17%, while other occupations are growing at 9.8%. STEM degree holders have a higher income even in non-STEM careers. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics workers play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy, and are a critical component to helping the U.S. win the future. STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators.

What can we do?

Students and teachers can play a part in helping promote Green Buildings by learning about how they can become "Green Schools". Successful green schools teach students how to lead a changing world, and they support student understanding by modeling sustainable behavior through green operations and building practices. Students can help improve their school grounds by monitoring and maintaining public spaces, as well as advocating for and leading restoration projects of local habitats. Teachers can create opportunities for students to learn about engineering and manufacturing green jobs and encourage innovations and inventions that specifically focus on solving local, national, and international environmental problems.

The environment is a compelling context for teaching STEM as it provides teachers with a diverse range of real-world challenges that engage students in hands-on opportunities (National Environmental Education Foundation).

Green Schools Challenge Activities:

STE(A)M Activity - The Trouble with Crandon Boulevard or Wagner Creek - Area Study: Design & Build Competition

CREATE YOUR OWN - Submit Lesson Plan click here

Schools can choose to do more than one activity but maximum amount of points a school can earn for this topic is the same. Points for participation will be based on a rubric. Download here.