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Careers in Sustainability

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"Sustainability" or "sustainable development" generally refers to a way of using resources so that they meet present needs without compromising future generations. While environmental sustainability is often the most widely recognized term in this field, sustainable development encompasses social and economic sustainability as well.

Careers in sustainability (also known as "green" careers/jobs) are found in such varied fields as environmental protection and remediation, waste reduction, green building, sustainable agriculture, climate change, and renewable energy and energy efficiency. While the specific work tasks may differ, all careers in sustainability share the common goal of promoting a healthy planet.

The first step to pursuing a sustainable career is to identify what you're interested in and then to get experience through school coursework or other projects, or by researching related internships and jobs. Use the links on this page to get started on your career in sustainability. Also, we have provided a sample resume to enhance your sustainability experience.

Working Green

Working Green interview series: An ongoing project to release video interviews with local sustainability professionals. Learn about their work, how they got where they are today, and how you can break into the field of sustainability.

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What is a green career and where are the green jobs?

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Portland Networking Opportunities

  • Association of Energy Services Professionals — The mission is to provide a networking and educational forum for energy professionals. By utilizing the diverse expertise and leadership of it members, the group works to promote practical solutions for enhancing the role of energy efficiency and renewable energy in consumer choices, and market dynamics; and communicate how they relate to major global problems such as global climate change, peak energy, and sustainability.
  • Green Drinks — Good beers, good conversation and a chance to network with other environmentally-minded people.
  • Voisalliance — VOIS supports sustainable, forward-thinking business leaders through advocacy, education, leadership cultivation, civic interaction and community building.
  • Net Impact — An international nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire, educate, and equip individuals to use the power of business to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world. Visit the Portland State University Chapter
  • International Society for Sustainability Professionals — A Portland organization which offers networking, resource sharing, professional development opportunities.

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Conferences

AASHE - http://conference.aashe.org/2014/ _ The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education is a membership association of colleges & universities, businesses, and nonprofits who are working together to lead the sustainability transformation.

BEST FEST - http://oregonbest.org/news-events/events/oregon-best-fest-2014/ -Oregon BEST FEST convenes university researchers, entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and others to envision, build, and accelerate solutions to environmental challenges that deliver prosperity in all corners of Oregon. Read more.

Go Green - http://portland.gogreenconference.net/ - the sustainability conference for business and government.

Other conferences that are sure to spark your interest

Ecodistricts

NW Environmental Conference

Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference

Solar Conference

Drive Oregon

Advising & Career Services Library Resources

  • Portland 2008 Green Guide to Networking and Jobs
  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Careers
  • Careers in Renewable Energy
  • Green Careers - Choosing Work for a Sustainable Future
  • The Eco Guide to Careers that Make a Difference
  • Great Jobs in the President's Stimulus Plan

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Sustainability Jobs Internet Sites

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Sustainability Organizations in Portland Metro area

  • Bonneville Environmental Foundation — Supports the development of renewable energy and watershed restoration while empowering people to shrink their carbon footprint.
  • City of Portland, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
  • Climate Trust, The — Promotes climate change solutions by providing high quality greenhouse gas offset projects and advancing sound offset policy.
  • Conservation Services Group — Where some see an energy crisis, we see an opportunity for positive change. We consider ourselves to be the energy pioneers.
  • Earth Advantage — Earth Advantage Institute works with the building industry to help implement sustainable practices. Its mission is to advance green building science and create an immediate, practical and cost-effective path to sustainability and reduction of carbon in the built environment.
  • Ecova — Ecova helps our clients design and implement methods to reduce energy and water use, manage carbon emissions and improve environmental sustainability, all with a positive return on investment.
  • Ecotone Products — EcoTone Products markets and distributes conservation products to individuals, contractors and utilities. Their mission is to conserve resources such as energy and water through the distribution of energy efficient products.
  • Ecotrust — Ecotrust's mission is to inspire fresh thinking that creates economic opportunity, social equity, and environmental well-being.
  • Energy Trust of Oregon, Inc. — Works to change how Oregonians produce and use energy by investing in efficient technologies and renewable resources that save dollars and protect the environment.
  • CLEAResult — For-profit company that focuses on projects with the environment or social benefit specializing in energy efficiency and conservation.
  • Green Building Council, Portland ChapterCascadia Region Green Building Council — Cascadia's mission is to promote the design, construction, and operation of buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy places to live, work and learn.
  • Iberdrola Renewables — Iberdrola Renewables is one of the few organizations with the capabilities, focus, credit and willingness to provide structured energy solutions.
  • Metro — Regional government office responsible for planning and sustainability
  • Northwest Environmental Business Council — NEBX is the trade association representing the leading service and technology firms in the Northwest who are working to protect, restore, and sustain the natural and built environment. 
  • Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center (Oregon Best) — An independent, nonprofit organization established by the Oregon Legislature, the Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center (Oregon BEST) builds on the state’s reputation as a national innovator in sustainability, natural resources, and renewable energy.
  • Oregon Natural Step — Non-profit organization whose mission is to motivate organizations to act according to the principles of sustainability.
  • Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) — OSEIA, a non-profit, works with industry leaders, academic scholars, legislators, government, and non-profit agencies to advocate for solar technologies and raise awareness of its potential to help secure an affordable, reliable, and clean energy future.
  • Portland Business Alliance — Portland's businesses are innovative leaders in sustainable business practices and in green business development. We encourage you to search this section to find local resources, strategies, and connections to businesses that are leading the way in green practices.
  • Portland Energy Conservation, Inc. (PECI) — Since 1980 we've worked with our partners to push the boundaries of energy efficiency, opening new markets and teaming up with some of the best minds in the industry toward a common goal: the practical delivery of innovation energy-efficiency solutions. The result is not just forward thinking; it's forward living. 
  • Portland State University - Community Environmental Services — Community Environmental Services (CES) is a sub research unit within the Center for Urban Studies at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. Since 1989, CES has been conducting research and service projects in the areas of solid waste, recycling, transportation, program evaluation, and other areas of environmental resource management.
  • Solar Oregon — Founded in 1979, Solar Oregon is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit membership organization providing public education and community outreach to encourage Oregonians to choose solar energy.
    Solar Oregon consists of volunteers, members, board members, and staff.
  • SolarWorld — SolarWorld’s family of companies are dedicated exclusively to the business of solar energy, combining all stages of the solar photovoltaic (PV) value chain, from the raw material silicon to turn-key solar power plants. SolarWorld operates production facilities in the USA and in Germany as well as sales offices around the world. 
  • Vestas — Vestas’ core business comprises the development, manufacture, sale and maintenance of wind technology that uses the energy of the wind to generate electricity.
  • Windward-Windward is an intentional community / sustainability research center located north of the scenic Columbia River Gorge about 80 miles east of Portland, Oregon.
  • Zero Waste Alliance, The — Non-profit partnership of universities, government, business and other organizations working to support organizations in the creation of a more sustainable future.

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Award Winning Sustainable Organizations

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Past Sustainability Related Internships - The following sustainability internship descriptions are included to provide examples of the kinds on internships that have been available in the past. This list does not reflect all possible internships in sustainability. This list does not reflect current openings.

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Places of Employment

The following list of employers and job titles was derived from Advising & Career Services' jobs database. This list does not reflect all potential places of employment or kinds of jobs for those interested in Sustainability.

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PSU Resources

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