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.

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.
  • 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. 
  • ASHRAE Oregon Chapter — The key organization that brings together designers, owners, sales representatives and distributors, trades people, academics and students to meet socially on a regular basis and discuss and learn about the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration sciences in the Oregon region.
  • International Society for Sustainability Professionals — A Portland organization which offers networking, resource sharing, professional development opportunities.
  • Women in Environment — Professional development and opportunities for women in the environmental field.

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AASHE - 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.

VertueLab Impact Summit - the place to meet your fellow doers, thinkers, and innovators working to speed clean technology development across the Pacific Northwest. 

Go Green - the sustainability conference for business and government.

Other conferences that are sure to spark your interest


NW Environmental Conference

Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference

Oregon Solar Energy Conference

Forth - Roadmap

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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.
  • Brightworks  — Brightworks clients reduce risk, save money, access new capital and markets, and increase customer and employee loyalty, while creating a positive legacy and good story to tell. 
  • City of Portland, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and Sustainability at Work 
  • CLEAResult — For-profit company that focuses on projects with the environment or social benefit specializing in energy efficiency and conservation.
  • Climate Solutions — Climate Solutions is a Northwest-based clean energy economy nonprofit.  We have pioneered the vision and cultivated the political leadership in the Northwest for the proposition that clean energy and broadly shared economic prosperity can go hand-in-hand. 
  • Climate Trust, The — Promotes climate change solutions by providing high quality greenhouse gas offset projects and advancing sound offset policy.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.
  • The Rebuilding Center — Local non-profit that offers building and remodeling materials that have been salvaged and reclaimed from the community. The Rebuilding Center offers educational workshops to assist the community understand why sustainability is important and what they do to help the environment. 
  • 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. 
  • Sustainable Northwest — Founded in 1994, Sustainable Northwest is a non-profit based in Portland that seeks to restore forests, rivers, and rangelands to promote a healthier and clearer habitat. 
  • VertueLab — Since 2007, VertueLab (formerly Oregon BEST) has supported and made direct program-related investments in innovative cleantech startups, connecting promising companies with state and federal resources, while preparing them for follow-on investment through a series of focused programs. 
  • Vestas — Vestas’ core business comprises the development, manufacture, sale and maintenance of wind technology that uses the energy of the wind to generate electricity.

The City of Portland Green Business Directory is a comprehensive list of Sustainability focused businesses around Portland. 

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Award Winning Sustainable Organizations

  • 100 Best Green Companies to Work for in Oregon — Oregon Business Magazine rankings based on sustainable practices and employee satisfaction.
  • Global 100 — The Global 100 companies are sustainable in the sense that they have displayed a better ability than most of their industry peers to identify and effectively manage material, environmental, social, and governance factors impacting the opportunity and risk side of their businesses.
  • Find a B Corp — A benefit corporation is a new class of corporation that voluntarily meets higher standards of corporate purpose, accountability, and transparency.

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Past Places of Employment

The following list of past 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. This list is to provide examples of the kinds of jobs that are available and are not current openings. 

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PSU Resources

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