Green, sustainable building design

What I want to do, at least, what I've wanted to do so far, is go into green, sustainable building design. I wanted to do this through civil and environmental engineering, but a lot of what I see as far as what colleges have on their websites is mostly water oriented.

To be frank, water interests me not one little bit. The only environmental engineers in my area work at refineries. That's another thing I'm not interested in.

Can I be a civil/environmental engineer and just do some more focus work in architecture and still work in green, sustainable design?
posted by Michelle, Corpus Christi, Texas on March 15, 2013

Answer by Khadijah Latiff

Hi Michelle, I work for an environmental engineering company (yes, we work on mostly water and wastewater treatment facilities). We are involved in several green/sustainable design projects as well, but these initiatives are mostly carried out by architects and mechanical engineers. The current standards of 'green' buildings mostly revolves around energy usage and reducing carbon footprint. This is frequently achieved by selecting efficient lighting or lighting controls (see electrical engineer or lighting architects), reducing heat usage and efficient HVAC management (see mechanical engineers), installing photovoltaics (electrical), green roof and landscape (architects). When you hear 'environmental engineer' perhaps you're thinking 'green and sustainable design' but the environmental engineers are instrumental in protecting the environment from harmful and toxic substances that we put back into nature. That is why water treatment is so important. Designing a green and sustainable water treatment facility is actually very difficult because these facilities actually use up a lot of energy in critical process!!! The primary goal is to produce clean water, while energy reduction is secondary.