Imagine you’re standing in the main quad of a bustling university campus. As the new sustainability officer here, you’ll be developing a campus-wide program to encourage environmental stewardship and energy conservation.
This initiative includes the expansion of the university’s existing research on applied environmental science and policy, as well as an ongoing community outreach program to raise awareness about sustainability issues.
Since your role is central to public perceptions about the university, you will be reporting directly to the university’s President.
Even though this is still your first week on the job, you have a full, fast-paced day ahead of you.
You’ll be leading a number of meetings with different stakeholder groups to get more information on their needs and expectations for the university’s sustainability programs.
You’re also planning to finish your research on a cost-benefit analysis for the program and start writing a grant proposal to ensure that enough funding is available to support upcoming program additions.
You know you’re up to the challenge of this new role as a sustainability officer. Throughout your past work experience, you’ve developed strong skills in leadership, strategic thinking and connecting different departments and teams. These abilities will help you excel as you support the university’s goal of long-term, financially feasible sustainability projects.
Job duties for sustainability officers vary but the following list includes typical job duties that they may encounter:
Sustainability officers typically work in the following settings:
In the office:
In the field:
Sustainability Officers are usually employed by:
Search for jobs on the ECO Canada job board.
Most sustainability officers have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in the following areas:
In addition to the fields of study mentioned above, sustainability officers also need extensive management experience. Current sustainability practitioners can boost their soft skills for a future sustainability officer job with professional development courses in:
You may also find our Environmental Professional (EP) designation useful.
Hard/ Technical Skills (skills obtained through formal education and training programs)
Soft Skills (personal attributes and characteristics)
Environmental employers look for professionals who can combine technical knowledge with soft skills. Watch at our free webinar “Essential Not Optional: Skills Needed to Succeed in Canada’s Environmental Industry” or take our Essential Skills courses.
Sustainability officers typically come from diverse professional backgrounds and enter this position with past experience of leading junior staff and managers. They address inefficiencies in the workplace that impact the environment such as energy use, resource conservation, recycling, transportation, and building design.
Sustainability officers are often key organizational leaders who must have outstanding skills in strategic planning, human resources management, and relationship-building.
They set out goals and objectives, organize timelines to motivate clients to improve their productivity and profitability, whilst acting in accordance with environmental policies and legislation and not jeopardize surrounding ecosystems.
Many people consciously try to create a more sustainable environment. Whether through using reusable bottles and containers, taking public transport or walking to reduce emissions, we actively try to reduce our impact. But how can organizations make changes? How can they ensure a sustainable workplace?
This is the role of a sustainability officer. Not only do they help in the implementation process but also with what comes after it to ensure that sustainable practices continue in the long term.
Here are just a few ways a sustainability officer can help firms make their workspaces more sustainable:
Individuals employed as sustainability officers may be classified in one or more of the following occupational groupings:
The National Occupation Classification (NOC) provides a standardized language for describing the work performed by Canadians in the labour market. It gives statisticians, labour market analysts, career counsellors, employers and individual job seekers a consistent way to collect data, describe and understand the nature of work within different occupations.
The NOC is developed and updated in partnership with Statistics Canada to coincide with the 5- year census cycles. It is based on in-depth occupational research and consultations conducted across Canada, to reflect changes in the Canadian labour market.
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