Want to save the world while seeing a little more of it? Here are a few jobs you might pursue.
Earlier this year, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) released its LEED in Motion: Hospitality report that showed there has been tremendous growth in green building in the hospitality industry. Now, nearly 134 million square feet of hotel space is currently LEED-certified, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This is a certification program focused primarily on new, commercial-building projects such as hotels and resorts and is based upon a points system. The more points the building earns the higher their rating. LEED buildings decrease a company's environmental impact and the hospitality industry's annual environmental footprint is $4 billion in energy use, 1.2 trillion gallons of water and millions of tons of waste.
For example, The Hotel at Oberlin in Ohio opened its doors this week and incorporates solar, geothermal, and radiant heating and cooling, and is engineered to be one of the most environmentally sustainable hotels in the world. Other LEED hotels include the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C.: ITC Windsor, Bengaluru, India; Virgin Hotel Chicago, Chicago, Ill.; and MGM City Center, Las Vegas, Nevada.
So what does this mean for someone looking for a job in the travel industry? If you have a love for or a knowledge of working on environmentally friendly projects, you may be able to find the perfect job for you in the areas of Ecotourism, Responsible Tourism, Sustainable Tourism, Community Tourism, Wildlife Tourism, Adventure Travel, Wildlife Conservation, Protected Areas Management, Field Biology, Environmental Management and more. Here are just a few opportunities:
Caretakers: Being green means how much green is actually around the property and someone needs to take care of it all. Many hotels and resorts need individuals who are experts in flora and/or fauna, and wildlife. Gardeners also take care of roof gardens that hotel chefs. For example, one hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia combines food production and green building and planted a rooftop apple orchard.
Tour Guides: The National Parks Service needs candidates who can take care and manage environmentally important projects at such places at the Grand Canyon National Park, including educating visitors about the environment. Other resorts need program leaders who can lead adult and children’s nature tours and plan and implement nature programs.
Marketers: If you have a background in public relations and marketing and have an interest in sustainability, hotels and resorts need your help to spread the word to travelers.
Scientists: The National Geographic named scientists as one of the fastest growing green jobs. Imagine, they say, being a diver who measures ocean water acidity on the Great Barrier Reef, off Australia's One Tree Island, to help chart the evidence of Earth's changing climate and observe its impact on ecosystems. Not a hospitality job per se, but this information is valuable to the tourism community and provides opportunities for you to travel.
There are also many internship and volunteer opportunities where you can gain valuable experience. For example, some organizations need volunteers to work on environmental projects that could last for up to six months. You can travel the globe, learning about herbariums, forest conservation, water preservation and so much more.
Even if you do not have the background or interest in an environmental job, you may just want a job in a hospitality company who believes in the same sustainability and environmental practices that you do.