"Going green" is a popular term for businesses and individuals committed to reducing adverse effects on the environment. Green activities result in energy conservation, improved air quality, cleaner water and preservation of natural resources. According to the University of Colorado at Boulder Sustainable Practices Program, many businesses are making green practices an essential part of their business strategy. Because of such interest, opportunities for green consultants are on the rise. The journey to becoming one requires education in green concepts, experience and the ability to get clients.
Get Familiar With Green Concepts
As a green consultant, you need thorough knowledge of green or sustainability concepts. Clients expect you to apply your expertise in green methods and technology to help them reduce their carbon footprint. You must know best practices and technologies that will help them do just that. This includes knowledge of viable methods for reducing energy consumption, recycling a variety of waste products and overall knowledge of green markets. For example, if you consult with homeowners about energy savings, you must know about energy audits and options for curbing energy loss.
Choose Who You Serve
Because green concepts are applicable to many industries, it is a good idea to focus your efforts in areas where you have interest and experience. For example, if you have a real estate background, you may choose the home construction industry and help builders identify eco-friendly products for their builds. If you have experience working for federal, state or local governments, you may target government entities and consult with them on how to reduce office waste. Whether you want to push environmentally friendly products or energy alternatives, choosing a customer niche increases your opportunities for success.
Get the Education and Skills
Increase your green consulting marketability with a good mix of education and skills. Green techniques are often steeped in science and technical detail, so environmental research and work experience is a plus. Having a science degree also gives you a solid footing for consulting work. The most likely educational path is a bachelor’s degree or higher in environmental science, ecology, biology or natural resources management. You will also need strong verbal and written communication skills, as clients will expect detailed information by way of project proposals and technical reports before moving forward on your green recommendations.
Learn the Business Ropes
Don’t overlook the business side of green consulting. You need a certain amount of business smarts to develop a profitable business model. This includes knowledge of business planning, product or service pricing, and marketing strategies that attract clients. Your goal is to promote and sell your green expertise regarding conservation of natural resources in a cost effective way. For your business to survive, you must find customers that can benefit from your green services and build business relationships that yield enough billable hours to sustain your business.