21 February 2010 – While architects, engineers and developers are learning the “green” game, so too are Australia’s blue collar construction workers. And at the forefront of change will be plumbers who deliver the majority of energy consumed in buildings.

According to the Green Building Council of Australia major re-training is under way in a variety of trades delivering buildings in the commercial and residential sphere.

“Plumbers are considering ways to save water, bricklayers are recycling whatever they can and electricians are laying cables in buildings without ceilings in a revolution which is changing building sites right across Australia,” the GBCA’s executive director of education and marketing, Tania Crosbie said.

Blue collar building jobs, estimated to be around 1 million Australia-wide, now feature a wide range of jobs considered “green” Ms Crosbie said.

“The green economy in Australia is believed to be worth about $17 billion and forecasts indicate that another 850,000 green collar jobs will be created over the next 20 years,” she said.

“In the past five years, the GBCA has trained over 14,500 people working in property and construction in the use of the green building environmental rating system, Green Star.”

Plumbers could well be leading the way.

Vin Ebejer, general manager of the Plumbing Industry Climate Action Centre, which opened in Melbourne’s inner suburb of Brunswick last year, more than 70 per cent of the energy consumed in a house was delivered by the plumbing system.

“The importance of having plumbers well trained and well versed in sustainability issues cannot be overstated,” he said.

“Most plumbers were trained before the invention of green technologies. Significant amounts of training
must occur to upskill these plumbers so that they can meet consumer demand for their services.”

The Green Cities 2010 will discuss these issues in a special sitting of the conference under way 21-23 February in Melbourne.