Despite a challenging economic outlook, green building will support 7.9 million U.S. jobs and pump $554 billion into the American economy--including $396 billion in wages--over the next four years, according to a new report.

The U.S.Green Building Council (USGBC) study by Booz Allen Hamilton also determined that green construction spending currently supports more than 2 million American jobs and generates more than $100 billion in gross domestic product and wages.

The economic impact of the total green construction market from 2000 to 2008, the study found, contributed $178 billion to U.S. gross domestic product; created or saved 2.4 million direct, indirect and induced jobs; and generated $123 billion in wages.

The study considered the total impact of green buildings, from the architects who design them to the construction laborers who pour their foundations to the truck drivers who deliver materials, in recognition of how extensive the impact of green building is, says Gary Rahl, officer of global government market for McLean, Va.-based Booz Allen Hamilton.

“The study demonstrates that investing in green buildings contributes significantly to our nation’s wealth while creating jobs in a range of occupations, from carpenters to cost estimators,” said Rahl. “In many ways, green construction is becoming the standard for development. As a result, it is expected to support nearly 8 million jobs over the next five years, a number four times higher than the previous five years.”

The study, which was released at the USGBC’s Greenbuild Conference in Phoenix last week, validates the work that green building pros do every day, said USGBC founder Rick Fedrizzi.

“Our goal is for the phrase ‘green building’ to become obsolete, by making all building and retrofits green--and transforming every job in our industry into a green job,” said Fedrizzi.

The report also lists the types of jobs created as a result of green building spending, the average salaries for these positions, and the estimated educational attainment required for each position. It can be downloaded here.

Jennifer Goodman is Senior Editor Online for EcoHome.