From: Charles Redell, Sustainable Industry
Published April 28, 2009 10:43 AM

Help wanted: Real estate professionals seek green building education.

Over the past couple of years, a growing interest in sustainable building practices has led many in the real estate industry to build a foundation around the emerging green building industry. What was once a fringe specialty for some real estate agents has become a necessary strategy for both commercial and residential real estate professionals, especially on the West Coast, where much of the new commercial construction is aiming for certification through either the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or Energy Star rating systems—or both.

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But the field of sustainable continuing education for those involved in the real estate market—real estate agents and brokers, designers, engineers, as well as other corollary professions such as interior designers—is, for the most part, still in its nascent stages. Entire professions, including the appraisal, insurance, and banking industries, are trying to grasp the implications, both positive and negative, of green buildings. It provides a huge opportunity for education providers to fill an important—and potentially lucrative—niche that has so far gone mostly untapped.

Commercial sector catches up

Sustainable building practices—while their long-term benefits are still unknown—have become a driver of commercial real estate transactions in recent years. With projections that the green building industry could be worth between $90 billion and $140 billion in five years, most large real estate firms, including Cushman & Wakefield, CB Richard Ellis (NYSE: CBG), and Unico Properties, have in recent years added national sustainability directors. Jones Lang LaSalle (NYSE: JLL) went so far as to create a Sustainability University where employees and clients can learn about sustainable building techniques and operations. That effort is a part of the company’s goal to have 500 LEED-Accredited Professionals (LEED-APs) on staff by the end of 2009.

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