Green Jobs: Environmental & Economic Benefits
by bized staff
The “green-collar jobs,” have been working hard for more than a decade now to save our environment and economy. This blossoming sector includes technicians in the renewable energy and energy-efficiency industries, in which there are already 8.75 million U.S. jobs.
Green collar jobs
Manual-labor jobs in businesses or other entitties whose products and services directly improve environmental quality is the definition of green collar jobs, as first defined in 2006 by Urban Studies Professor Raquel Pinderhughes, of San Francisco State University. She identified 22 economic sectors in which green jobs are located, including green building, energy retrofits and sustainable food production.
By the year 2030 the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries are poised to generate up to 40 million U.S. jobs and generate $4.5 trillion in revenue if public policies, including a renewable portfolio standard, incentives, public education, and R&D are put in place, according to a recent report. The report was commissioned by the American Solar Energy Society, a leading nonprofit dedicated to advancing the U.S. toward a sustainable energy economy. See report at www.ases.org
Key findings of the report include: The 40 million jobs that could be created in renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2030 include millions of new jobs in manufacturing, construction, accounting, and management. Renewable energy and energy efficiency industries today produce nearly $1 trillion in revenue in the U.S. generating more than $150 billion in tax revenue at the federal, state, and local levels. Revenue from the energy efficiency sector, including from energy efficient appliances, insulation, windows and recycling, is currently larger than revenue from renewable energy, but the renewable energy industry is growing much more quickly
Hot Green Jobs
Solar, wind, ethanol, and electric vehicles are likely to be some of the hottest areas of growth. The green industry leaders are saying much more training is required to keep more of the jobs from getting outsourced. Some of the jobs can’t be outsourced, such as Home Energy Star Rater, or solar installer or spray foam operator. For those who are looking for some adventure, hard work, a secure future and want to be in on the nuts and bolts of it, getting some dark green training is advisable, which can come from a combination of “learn as you earn” on the job training, and formal classroom or online study.
For those who aren’t up for the demands of a dark green job, such as bolting down solar panels, or operating a spray foam machine, there are the light green jobs which include salespeople, marketers and managers to handle procurement and sales of Renewable Energy Certificates (REC), administrators and assistants to process paperwork involved with incentives, lobbyists to help pass favorable legislation for the environment and lawyers to handle legal interests of the green business.
Becoming certified in a Home Energy Rater System (as a HERS rater), or in the Building Performance Institute (BPI) as a certified energy auditor, can be lucrative. This usually requires a combination of work in a related area, along with technical classroom training on the latest building science that, if applied, could save a homeowner 20% to 75% on heating, cooling, water and electric bills.
The HERS rater or BPI certified energy auditor training is essential to knowing how to use tools like a blower-door to test for air-flow leakage, infra-red cameras to check for insulation levels, gas detectors to test for gas leaks, carbon monoxide detectors for hazardous venting conditions, etc. Consider attending the Home Performance Institute conferences held regionally and national. See homeperformance.org/education-and-events
While some have complained that environmentally-friendly measures might stall economic growth, others, including high-level investors from Wall Street, are maintaining that the move to green is already offering many opportunities. Just in energy efficiency alone, there are 2.3 million workers, with more than triple that number when you count supporting jobs and those due to energy savings, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEE) aceee.org/fact-sheet/jobs-investment.
The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing solar use, released their seventh Solar Jobs Census which is an annual assessment of solar industry employment at the national, state, and local levels. In 2016 it found the solar industry employs more than 260,000 Americans, representing a 25 percent growth from 2015.
Veterans in Solar
Another report from the Solar Foundation Veterans in Solar: Securing America’s Energy Future, shows that veterans are employed within the solar industry at higher-than-average rates, and are expected to grow with the overall workforce. See thesolarfoundation.org/
It’s no secret that a large fraction of America’s aging fleet of coal and nuclear plants are simply not economic to operate anymore.
The fact is, per unit of electricity produced, more jobs are created for renewables than for coal, gas-fired or nuclear plants, including all construction and fuel cycles. What’s good for the environment is what’s good for the economy, because a shift to better energy solutions creates jobs, better health, and a sustainable planet including sustainable businesses.