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Green Jobs on the Rise

 Posted by Antonia Sohns on August 31, 2012
Aug 312012
 

Companies that recognize the potential of a green economy are employing skilled workers with knowledge of new design and construction techniques, in order to get ahead of the coming market transitions. Interest in green jobs continues to grow, but without defining, standard-setting, and benchmarking, this will remain a vague term that can be interpreted in many different ways. The US Bureau of Labor Statists (BLS) has developed tools to help us better understand the increasing role green jobs play in industries nationally.

The BLS measures green jobs using two approaches. It counts jobs associated with establishments that produce green goods and services (GGS), and jobs associated with environmentally friendly production processes and practices. By measuring the jobs created due to output of GGS and production processes, the BLS can quantify the total number of green jobs created in business practices.

Wind Farm (Photo via Flickr, by Bush Philospher - David Clarke)

According to the BLS, a green job produces goods or provides “services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources.” Additionally, green jobs are those in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources. These technologies and practices fall into one or more of four categories: Generate electricity from renewable sources; improve energy efficiency, including cogeneration; reduce and remove pollution; conserve natural resources; and enforce environmental compliance, education and training.

The BLS report documents industries with the largest percentages of green jobs. Among the highest-ranking industries is construction, with 820,700 establishments, or about 38% of the industry having GGS, as of 2009.

Green construction aims to design and construct a building that uses environmentally responsible practices and is resource efficient. For example, green buildings reduce environmental impact by incorporating energy-saving technologies and reusing water. Companies like McGraw-Hill Construction are developing innovative, green building methods in order to meet the increasing demand. In 2005, McGraw-Hill Construction estimated green nonresidential building construction in the US to be worth approximately $3 billion. Just five years later, in 2010, McGraw-Hill increased that estimate to $43 to $54 billion – and by 2015, estimates it will be worth $120 to $145 billion.

Green Jobs now! (Photo via Flickr, by greenforall.org)

In order to distinguish GGS from other goods, BLS employs standards or product ratings. For example, federal standards classify sustainable foods and food production as USDA Certified Organic, and goods and services that are energy efficient as Energy Star products. Furthermore, buildings can be classified as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which indicates the building has met the green industry standard. While labeling helps consumers purchase GGS, one concern is that many of these standards are voluntary. Therefore, establishments may opt out of the rating system.

Between 2000 and 2008, green construction supported more than 1 million workers, of the 7.2 million people working in general construction in 2008. The US Green Building Council suspects that this figure will increase to 3.3 million between 2009 and 2013. The 3.3 million people employed by green construction does not include those employed by suppliers of green building goods and services.

Companies will continue to innovate, producing more green jobs. The deployment of new technologies in the energy sector alone has the potential to support 20 million jobs and trillions of dollars in revenue by 2030. Government support of GGS, and increasing consumer demand for these goods will be vital to their competitiveness in the market. Developing green goods and services will bolster preparedness for climate change and buffer the rising costs of energy into the future.

 

(Written by Antonia Sohns)

 

 

 

  3 Responses to “Green Jobs on the Rise”

  1. Most of this is spot-on. Some of it is lame, or naive.

    What value are Federal rating systems if they err so egregiously in the obvious?

    Your statement: “In order to distinguish GGS from other goods, BLS employs standards or product ratings. For example, federal standards classify sustainable foods and food production as USDA Certified Organic, and goods and services that are energy efficient as Energy Star products. Furthermore, buildings can be classified as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which indicates the building has met the green industry standard. While labeling helps consumers purchase GGS, one concern is that many of these standards are voluntary. Therefore, establishments may opt out of the rating system.”

    is a tad shallow, and does not serve anyone well.

    The most glaring is your statement that sustainable foods must conform to USDA Organic Standards. This is the wrong message. Screw what USDA deems sustainable. Define sustainable as: “Locally Reasonable and Beneficial, Measured and Independently Verified, Long-term Company-Policy-based, Best Crop Production, Harvest, Processing, and Distribution Practices.” This statement IS NOT unwieldy. It is concise and clear.

    • Green and Environment Jobs were heralded as the way forward to help save the earth and to combat climate change, enhance conservation efforts and halt species decline. But just how far have we come in the past 10 years writes Andrew Coleman for ADC Environment Limited. “There are several studies of the jobs market and the scope for creating a successful career in this field, but is environmental protection a vocation that I would encourage any undergraduate to follow?” (writes Andrew) “Until 2008 there was a tremendous growth pretty much all niches of environmentalism. The trend followed a similar pattern to the tech boom, and the current situation is also the same…the ‘bubble burst.” “Although there has seen a marginal growth in the years post 2008, growth remains subdued. Previously bouyant areas such as ‘organics’ ‘ecology’ and ‘climate change’ have continued to tread water.” The full report can be seen here http://www.environmentjobs.com/news-article.asp?n=134&news=The%20Future%20of%20Green%20and%20Environment%20Jobs “The organic market is predominantly a consumer driven market, and affected by price, customer spend, inflation and employment. In the minority are the organic diehards that will continue to by organic produce irrespective of price and quantity – in favour of a ‘lifestyle decision’. The organic market has nose dived since 2008, but it is my opinion that this will become ‘part and parcel’ of the Fairtrade consumerism and will once again grow. (Fairtrade has not been affected by the global recession but has in fact grown).” “Ecology is affected by private sector business and to a lesser extent by public sector pay. Without developments there is little demand for the services of ecology consultancy services. Less demand creates a stagnant job market. There will however, always be a seasonal demand for ecologists.” “Climate Change (CC) is affected by both public and private sector spend. But unlike other specialisms, it has been seen to be at the mercy of climate sceptics and conflicting reports about the integrity of climate data. CC is undoubtedly affecting the globe and is integral to many jobs. However, private sector developments, R&D and the resulting increase in the jobs market has not materialised as would have been expected.” “…Onto renewables. Renewables are the holy grail. However, it is my opnion that the future for renewables is fusion energy. Fusion energy requires little physical space and creates energy thousands of times higher (per input) than any other form of energy creation (nuclear aside). However, there is little R&D into this potentially planet saving energy resource. It is my belief that solar, wind and wave technology are too unreliable, labour intensive, invasive, costly and ineffective.” We are currently collating market data and hope to publish some statistics and trends later in 2013.

  2. I would love to find a green job here on the western slope of colorado!!

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