Next Gen Program

What is Next Gen?

Next Gen is a professional development program of New Buildings Institute for college students, designed to foster the next generation of diverse buildings industry leaders, and in doing so, bolster inclusivity in the buildings industry at large. Over the course of the program, students will work with each other as part of a Next Gen cohort and have the opportunity for advanced learning, resume building, mentorship, networking and more.

Our inaugural 2021 cohort included 20 students from all around the United States and Canada. 80% of the students identified as women and 80% identified as people of color. We are thrilled that the program has grown into two cohorts (40 students in total) in subsequent years.

If you are interested in sponsoring students to participate in the program or becoming a mentor, you can find more information here.

Why Next Gen?

Low-income communities and people of color are most at risk of being left behind by the zero energy and electrification movement, which will likely result in significant financial hardship unless programs are planned with equity at their core. Building electrification policies can have unintentional but harmful consequences for low-income residents and people of color. The industry must be more racially diverse to better ensure all people can access and benefit from building efficiency and electrification measures.

The number of jobs in this industry is also likely to increase in coming years – as a sector, we need to ensure students of color have the knowledge, resources, and relationships to succeed, join leadership ranks, and make high-level decisions that will make buildings both an asset to the climate and a healthy place for people to live, work, and learn.

What Does the Program Look Like?

The Next Gen program year begins in the fall and runs through early summer. The program seeks to benefit students through five different avenues: education, mentorship, networking, professional development, and cohort building. More information can be found on the Getting to Zero Forum site.


  • Students will follow an ASHRAE curriculum and meet monthly for discussion groups facilitated by industry experts.
  • Students will attend the Getting to Zero Forum and have access to a multitude of breakout sessions, in-depth workshops, and impactful keynotes and plenaries.


  • Students will meet regularly with a mentor aligned with their professional aspirations to discuss professional development and new developments in their sector of the industry.

Professional Development:

  • Students will have the opportunity to write a blog for the Getting to Zero Forum website.
  • Students will have the opportunity to present a poster at the Getting to Zero Forum.


  • Students will participate in a special networking activity at the Getting to Zero Forum.

Cohort Building:

  • Students will develop a peer-support network with their cohort members from all around the country.

Student Testimonials from the 2022-2023 Next Gen Cohorts

“Being part of the Next Gen cohort opened my eyes to a world of possibilities in the sustainable building industry that I had previously been oblivious to. Over the course of the program, I was able to learn the fundamentals of net zero buildings, make connections with multiple working professionals, and find my place within a network of like-minded individuals. I am feeling incredibly inspired by all the work and research going into sustainable building practices and more confident than ever in my ability to one day contribute to this ever-expanding field.”

“The Next Gen program has been the best professional/career development program I have ever been part of. As an engineer with a passion for sustainable development and energy efficiency, the program beautifully complemented what I had learned at college and things I had researched. Beyond benefitting from the ASHRAE course, my mentor played an important role in my personal and career development. My mentor and I share similar backgrounds, being both Caribbean international students, and her advice has helped me see there is hope for me to develop my career and give back to my home community. Lastly, the conference allowed me to network with industry professionals and see the value in coming together to achieve a shared goal. I would 100% recommend this program to students who want to be community builders and affect environmental change!”

Interested in learning more?

Email Emma Riccardi at [email protected].