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Green Building News

Popular Mechanics Lists “Future-Proof” Jobs – Many of Them Green

The mkSolaire, one of a series of modular homes designed by Michelle Kaufmann Designs, is intended specifically for urban infill locations. This one is on display through January 3, 2010, at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. (Click here to see the floor plan.) Popular Mechanics ranked Kaufmann’s profession – which the magazine describes as “Zero-Energy Home Architect” – No. 2 on its list of 10 “future-proof” jobs.
Image Credit: Michelle Kaufmann Designs

A decage ago, “Top 10 Jobs” lists didn’t typically highlight green and alternative-energy professions. But they do now.

Many specialty publications – and the business sections of most daily newspapers – create “hot jobs” lists every year or so as a way to put the broader employment market into perspective and, while they’re at it, maybe even dispense useful advice.

The May issue of Popular Mechanics features a list headlined “10 Future-Proof Jobs You Can Get Right Now.” The list in fact might not be of immediate practical value to anyone except those who happen to have the academic training required for the professions identified. But it does affirm the notion that expertise in energy-efficiency fields will continue to gain traction in the near future, if not indefinitely.

Five of the 10 jobs on the list focus on energy efficiency or alternative energy technology. The job in the No. 2 spot, for example, is “Zero-Energy Home Architect.” Noting that developments in solar technology and energy-efficient design are being applied to a wide range of residential projects and a growing client base, the accompanying job description cited Michelle Kaufmann, whose Oakland, California, firm has become known for designing all-climate, sustainably built modular homes (including the mkSolaire, the mkLotus, the factory-built Glidehouse, and the recently introduced three-story “farmhouse,” mkHearth).

No. 3 on the future-proof jobs list is “Combined Heat and Power Mechanic” – an expert in installing and servicing cogeneration units that use turbine technology to produce both electric and thermal energy. CHPs are touted for use in a variety of commercial settings: They can provide much of the heat, for example, that would otherwise be generated by less efficient boilers.

Job No. 4 is “Energy Engineer.” Pretty wide scope of possibilities here: Energy engineers “may recommend new air-conditioning equipment or solar-powered streetlights,” says the magazine, or they may design entire renewable-energy systems, such as those that harness methane from a landfill to generate electricity.

No. 7: “Wind Explorer.” Wind explorers are trained in wind turbine construction and, quite often, environmental engineering. Travel required. The job often entails scouting locations in developing countries where grid lines and power plants are scarce or nonexistent.

No. 9: “Battery Engineer.” This discipline often combines electrical engineering, chemistry, materials science, and mechanical engineering, the magazine points out, adding that demand in this field is growing.


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