Over the next 10 years, the fastest growing jobs in the U.S. are going green. The commercial building market is an especially red-hot green sector. According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), buildings use 72% of electricity consumption, 39% of energy use, 30% of waste output and 38% of carbon dioxide emissions.

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But unparalleled government support, the availability of new sustainable materials and a strong demand for all things green is about to change all that. Today, the green building industry represents about 10-12% of the current commercial building market, but by 2013, estimates predict that the market will expand to approximately 20-25%. (The earth-smart money is on these environmentally friendly housing projects. Learn more in Building Green For Your House And Wallet.)

Jobs Going Green
A host of green jobs will be tied to understanding how to convert buildings from energy abuse to energy efficient. Whether your background is as a landscaper, an architect, a construction worker, a pest control specialist or other expertise, green building may offer you new opportunities to do well by doing good for our environment.

And if you love real estate and want to be on the leading edge of the green building trend, you may want to consider becoming a LEED Green Associate. (Being environmentally conscious doesn't mean you have to give up the comforts of life. Find out which jobs provide for both in 9 Green Careers With High Pay.)

The USGBC created the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system for green building as a first step towards setting measurable standards in areas such as site development, building design, water savings, material selection and more. LEED certification provides independent verification that a building meets the highest green building performance measures.

Today, the LEED rating system has been applied to nearly 14,000 projects in 50 states and 30 countries. Federal agencies, states and local governments across the country now require or encourage LEED building certification.

Becoming A LEED Green Associate
A LEED Green Associate is someone who is trained in the design and evaluation of green technology for buildings, both commercial and residential. To become a LEED Green Associate, you must pass a two hour computer-based exam, which tests your knowledge and skills on green building principals. (Energy neutral homes are becoming real possibilities, but the financial point of view might not be so optimistic. Check out Should You Invest In A Green Home?)

To apply to take the exam in the first place, you must either have some experience in a LEED project, or complete education coursework in relevant knowledge areas. This can be accomplished as self-study or by taking courses sponsored by organizations like the Green Building Certification Institute (http://www.gbci.org/). Knowledge areas tested on the exam include project requirements (such as budget or site development), project costs, occupancy requirements and much more.

After you've passed the exam, you're ready to launch your new green career. Start by visiting USGBC's Career Center online, which will direct you to openings across the country. Go to http://www.usgbc.org/ for more information.

The Bottom Line
Green building will support an estimated 7.9 million U.S. jobs and boost the economy by $554 million over the next four years alone. Become an expert as a LEED Green Associate so you too can claim your turf in the green revolution.

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