Sustainability As a Career Option

Dr Archana Verma

Our society is becoming more and more in need of sustainable living. This is not just the matter of a lifestyle to showcase, but in today’s world of climate change, it is absolutely imperative to live our lives according to the laws of sustainable environment. Here, are given some of the tertiary level programmes that prepare the young generation for a future that will have to depend upon sustainable living.

Sustainable Architecture

Eco friendly architecture is becoming a growing necessity nowadays. Whether it’s a residential building, official or commercial complexes or large utility and services related buildings, there is an immense pressure on the government and on the other people involved in planning, construction and using these architectural forms to save energy, avoid pollution and create a safe and healthy environment within the premises of the architecture.

A good example of eco friendly public utility and services architecture is the concept of eco-friendly airports. This concept is becoming more and more popular in India. The new 45-acre facility near the cargo complex of the Cochin International Airport has 46,000 solar panels installed, in a futuristic decor that is designed more like a set for a science fiction film. This huge solar panel farm in Kerala
produces between 50,000 and 60,000 power units per day, making the Kochi Airport a great energy saver, reducing 300,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

It is the first airport of its kind in the world, on that scale, to be powered only by solar energy. In the next 25 years, the positive impact of this solar panel strategy in terms of reduction in carbon emissions would be equivalent to planting three million trees. Similarly, in eco-friendly residential housing complexes, problems like power cuts, waste management, rising temperatures and waste water can be managed to a great extent, if not entirely solved. Waste water management systems have been devised which people can install in their homes and use for cleansing and re-cycling the water used in washing machines etc. Similarly, using solar panels to serve the energy needs of the house and building rain water harvesting systems to capture and store the rain water reduces the strain on the traditional water and electricity supply systems in use. LED lighting, solar power lighting, AC occupancy sensors that turn off the AC when the room is vacant etc. are new gadgets that save energy and reduce the burden on the environment. Using eco-friendly floors, ceilings and walls also saves energy.

Models of buildings that we have adopted from the industrialised societies consume a lot of energy and water and generate about 25 per cent of waste in all municipal landfills. Buildings in congested areas in metropolises are also increasingly becoming unhealthy with insufficient light and ventilation, as well as toxic chemicals which are inhaled by the occupants because of the polluted air.

Sustainable buildings provide sustainable solutions to the design and construction of buildings. They provide a holistic approach to architecture that locate the buildings in their healthy environment. These buildings require much less energy and water by using principles of conservation, using life-cycle analysis of materials and using energy simulation to design appropriate shades and covering materials for buildings as per their weather and climate.

Eco-Tourism and Sustainable Architecture 

The Tourism Ministry has guidelines for approval of a hotel project in the implementation stage and also guidelines for classification/re-classification of operational hotels under various categories. As per these guidelines, hotels at the project stage itself are required to incorporate various eco-friendly measures. The tour operators approved by Ministry of Tourism have to sign a pledge for commitment towards safe and sustainable tourism to fully implement sustainable tourism practices, consistent with the best environment and heritage protection standards, such that the present tourism resource requirements optimise both local community benefit and future sustainable uses. Career in Sustainable Environmental Courses A good postgraduate programme in sustainable architecture can prepare the youth to serve the growing needs of building sustainable architecture. India has some important programmes. related to sustainable environment that the young people can adopt for building their career. Following are some of these programmes being run in the country –

Tata Steel is running a Green School Project in collaboration with The Energy Research Institute (TERI). This initiative is aimed at creating awareness and understanding about environment issues in school campuses in the operational areas of Tata Steel. TERI, a New Delhi-based leading research Institute in the fields of energy, environment and sustainable development, will be actively involved in promoting environment messaging through classrooms and outdoor activities. 
There are ten schools identified across the state of Jharkhand and Odisha in the 1st phase of the ‘Green School Project’. The schools are Model School Jamposi, Jajpur, Stewart School,Sukinda, St Mary’s High School, Noamundi, DAV Public School, Noamundi, St Teresa School, Joda, DAV Public School, Joda, Residential Bridge School, Joda, Holy Cross School, West Bokaro, DAV School Jamadoba and Government High School Tomka, Bamnipal.

"We in Tata Steel are committed to proactively address climate change issues. Our responsibilities towards environment are driven by our commitment to create a sustainable business. Promoting sustainable environmental practices through education and working with schools is an effort to create an awareness and sensitivity among students about their responsibility towards environment."
--Chanakya Chaudhary, Group Director, Corporate Communication & Regulatory Affairs, Tata Steel
Rachana Sansad’s Institute of Environmental Architecture, the postgraduate wing of the Academy of Architecture, was the first to design a course on environmental architecture. For the past seven years, it has been offering a two-years Masters Program in Environmental Architecture approved by the Council of Architecture. It is specially meant for practicing architects as it is held over the weekends. “Rachana Sansad”, a parliament of creative education was founded in 1960, by three young architects whose mission was to promote education in the field of Art, Architecture, Building Technology and other allied disciplines. This educational endeavour began in 1955, when Prof. S. H. Wandrekar, Prof. C. K. Gumaste and late Mr. V. G. Mhatre founded a part-time college of Architecture viz. Academy of Architecture, to assist the employed young men and women to undergo
articulated training in Architecture. This enabled middle-class enthusiasts to study while earning their livelihood and obtain a Government Diploma in Architecture, to practice as professional architects. Gradually with experience, other sister institutions merged into the Sansad, making it a progressive educational entity. The Institute boasts Postgraduate programmes in Environmental Architecture, Building Construction and Urban and Regional Planning. 

Following is a list of courses related to Sustainable Architecture and allied subjects –

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi

• MSc Environmental Sciences 

Programme Highlights

1. Distribution of credits for M. Sc.
Total Credits for MSc Degree
Programme = 64 credits
I) Teaching = 50 credits
(i) Core courses = 26 credits
(ii) Optional courses = 24 credits
II) Lab work, Field work and
Dissertation = 14 credits
a) Lab work = 6 credits (Lab Work I =3 credits; Lab Work II =3 credits)
b) Field work = 3 credits
c) Dissertation = 5 credits

2. Focus on: Environmental Chemistry Ecology, Environmental Pollution, Natural hazards and disaster management, Envi ronmental Impact Assessment, Energy and Environment, Marine environment, Soil Science 

Eligibility Criteria – BSc. In any discipline from a recognised university; the candidate must qualify in an admission entrance examination conducted by JNU.

TERI University, New Delhi

• LLM programme with specialisation in Environment and Natural Resources, Law and Infrastructure and Business Law

Programme Highlights

1. Courses designed in consultation with industry and focusing on national and international developments
2. Courses aimed at balancing theoretical rigour and practical application 
3. Wide variety of optional courses taught by legal professionals
4. Skills development through research assignments, group-work, moot courts and seminars

Eligibility Criteria – A candidate having an LL.B. / B.L. Degree from a recognised University / Institution.

• MA Public Policy and Sustainable Development 

Programme Highlights 

1. Modules on Public Policy – 2 weeks at university/universities abroad/NGO Attachment
2. Major Project – About 3 weeks at the TERI University; the rest at the participants’workplace

Eligibility Criteria – Deptt sponsored Government candidates

Other Candidates – Graduates with a minimum experience of five years in any of the following sectors: government, regulatory bodies, industry, research/academic institutions, NGOs and donor/consultant organisations.

• MBA Business Sustainability

Programme Highlights

1. Summer Internship
2. Minor Project - 6 weeks at project location
3. Major Project - Around 10 weeks at the location of the project

Eligibility Criteria –

1. Bachelor’s degree in any discipline with English at 10+2 level 
2. The candidate will be shortlisted
based on CAT/MAT/GMAT/CMAT/XAT scores. Candidates who have not appeared for the above exams can take the TERI University common entrance test.
3. Candidates with more than 2 years of relevant work experience may be exempted from requirement (2) above depending on the discretion of the selection committee.

Indian Institute of Human Settlements, Bangalore

• Masters in Urban Practice

Programme Highlights

1. Land and Housing
2. Infrastructure
3. Design
4. Environment
5. Risk Mitigation and Climate Change

Eligibility Criteria – The MUP will be open to graduates from any discipline or practice sector and is specifically designed to enable its learners to make a transition from their existing careers and disciplines into newer urban understandings and practices that require integrated perspectives.

World Wildlife Fund India (WWF India), New Delhi

• Post Graduate Diploma in Tourism and Environmental Law

Programme Highlights

1. Programme would provide broader understanding of both global and local tourism laws and policies.
2. Background knowledge as well as practical tools for addressing the loopholes of tourism laws/policies at both formulation and implementation level will be provided.
3. Tourism management would be discussed in the broader perspective of environmental governance, sustainable tourism and ecotourism standpoint. Crucial socio-environmental problems related to the tourism industry as well as steps to manage and overcome the same will be presented.
4. It would enable the participants to propose changes as are necessary in laws/policies for development of a responsible ecotourism model.
5. It would train tourism professionals to optimally utilise financial and technical resources/materials to develop a sustainable, step by step plan of their own ecotourism product.

Eligibility Criteria – Bachelor’s degree in any discipline 

Silver Bright Institute of Management, Pune

• Executive MBA in Eco-tourism 

Programme Highlights

1. Recognised by the UGC
2. Inspiring green learning environment
3. Thriving social responsibilities initiatives

Eligibility Criteria – Bachelor’s degree in any discipline, working professionals 

VPGR Institute of Technology, Chennai

• MSc in Eco-Tourism 

Programme Highlights

1. Recognised by the UGC
2. Professionally ready
3. Focus on sustainable tourism

Eligibility Criteria – Bachelor’s degree in any discipline

The Global Open University, Kohima

• MSc in Eco-Tourism

Programme Highlights

1. Recognised by the UGC
2. Eco-tourism Venues and Business
3. Eco-tourism Planning & Development Design of Ecotourism Facilities
4. Social and Cultural Aspects of ET

Eligibility Criteria – Bachelor’s degree in any discipline

Career Prospects after Completing these Courses

Nowadays, the need for sustainable development has opened up many opportunities for candidates after they complete the above courses. They can work in the tourism and travel agencies that focus on eco-tourism, become architects focused on developing sustainable architecture and join the various government departments devoted to sustainable development. Even various educational Institute can give them jobs if they complete a research degree after getting these degrees. Institutes such as TERI and the Environmental Studies School of JNU in New Delhi almost ensure a 100% chances of getting the candidate a fellowship for a research degree and job prospects in a developed country. They also join large companies with a lucrative job after completing their degrees.

The ideal way to chart out one’s career course carefully is to study the profiles of at least one junior level professional, one mid-range career professional and one senior professional. If possible, one should talk to them and find out what kind of qualifications they have in addition to their sustainable development degree and how they climbed the ladder of success, what kind of strategies are needed to be successful in this field etc. If one wants to emigrate to a foreign country, it is important to check
the websites of good universities to find out which universities have the funding to award a research fellowship and then also to find out what kind of immigration rules exist in these countries. Since the rules and situations of these countries keep changing, it’s important to keep track of changing rules. Another important point to learn from these successful people is to understand what kind of mistakes not to make in one’s career path. Many people have a very ideal vision of the world and they don’t understand what mistakes they are making while making their career moves. Because of this, despite
being very talented and hard working, they fall behind while less talented and average workers go ahead of them. In case of government jobs, one has to keep track of deadlines for applications, age limits and the nature of preparation required to succeed in different types of jobs.

It helps to talk to those who have succeeded earlier in this field in finding a government job. Since this is a growing field, there may not be many opportunities in the beginning, but with passage of time there will be many more opportunities in this field than in many traditional disciplines. Having a qualification in this field and experience before others will give an edge to the candidates in the long
run. After one joins in a job, after a few years one has to update one’s skills to stay ahead of others. For this, one has to keep track of what kind of new skill upgrading programmes and opportunities are available to them. Usually, some kind of training in a foreign country helps one’s career. Hence, one should go abroad for a short term training programme if one can get a chance.

Originally published in Career Connect, June 2017