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What is Environmental Design?

With all the emphasis on healthy and green living, environmental design is becoming much more recognizable and a widely-used process than ever before. Environmental design is a process that addresses environmental issues when developing programs, buildings, plans and products in various fields, including engineering, interior design, urban planning, architecture, and geography. Environmental design makes use of sustainable products to avoid waste and provide our environment with as many eco-friendly products as possible. This need to improve our world has required the use of environmental design professionals.

Related resource: Bachelor’s in Environmental Design: Top 20 Values

What is Environmental Design?

Environmental design is a fairly new challenge to planning industrial processes and consumer products that are sustainable, ecologically intelligent and healthy for not just humans but also for the environment around us. In the past, when we built things out of raw materials, we kept them until we no longer needed them and then throw them in the trash. Today, we try to save products and recycle them into new and useful products. When we did build products, any extra materials were often tossed out. Today we use the leftover materials to also design usable and sustainable products. These things are all done with the help of environmental design.

Examples of Environmental Design

Environmental designers work in both private and public settings. Their work covers a large span including for commercial, recreational, residential and for leisure. Examples of work environmental designers might provide include parks, courtyards, green roofs, garden centers, and public squares. Their work can actually be found in all walks of life.

Training Programs in Environmental Design

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) groups environmental design professionals under the category of urban and regional planners. According to the bureau, most urban and regional planners have a master’s degree from a school accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board.

Many colleges also offer bachelor’s degree programs in environmental design, geography, economics or political science. The bachelor’s degree programs take about four years to complete with an additional two years for the master’s degree.

In addition to coursework, students also spend time in labs, workshop, and seminars. Students often also complete internships in facilities where they obtain experience planning projects or working in architecture. As of 2016, there were more than 70 PAB-accredited master’s and 15 bachelor’s degree programs in the U.S. Graduates can pursue voluntary certification through the American Institute of Certified Planners. New Jersey is the only state that requires licensure for its urban and regional planners.

Career Outlook

The career outlook for environmental design professionals is looking positive for the decade of 2016-2026 as reported by the BLS. The bureau expects these professionals to see an employment growth of 14%. As of May 2017, urban and regional planners earned an average annual wage of $74,350 with wages ranging from $44,680 to $108,170.

The average hourly wages for these specialists was $35.75 in 2017. The five top-paying states for urban and regional planners are California, Texas, Washington, Florida and New York. Graduates of environmental design programs may find jobs as:

• Environmental designers

• Climate change analysts

• Public relations specialists

• Sustainability specialists

• Insurance brokers

• Sustainability consultants

• Supervisor of production and operation workers

Saving our planet and providing a clean environment for everyone is becoming a top priority today. Pursuing a career in environmental design puts an individual in a role where he or she can help accomplish this while also having an exciting and challenging career.

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