Efficiency and the Jobs Argument

Sept. 26, 2008
By Elisa Wood September 25, 2008 How will the recent bad economic news affect energy efficiency efforts? Will state lawmakers retreat from the many financial commitments made over the last year? It is too soon to know the answer. But one thing is for sure, the industry may have to shift its marketing message. Consumers […]

By Elisa Wood

September 25, 2008

How will the recent bad economic news affect energy efficiency efforts? Will state lawmakers retreat from the many financial commitments made over the last year?

It is too soon to know the answer. But one thing is for sure, the industry may have to shift its marketing message. Consumers and politicians typically are keener on protecting the environment in good times than they are in bad.

The fact that efficiency programs create jobs seems to strike a cord. If you are looking for facts and figures to bolster arguments about efficiency’s job-creation ability, check out the 300-plus page report, “Green Jobs: Towards decent work in a sustainable world.”

Released this month by the Worldwatch Institute, the report says that the global market for environmental products and services is likely double from $1,370 billion per year to $2,740 billion by 2020. Half of this market is in energy efficiency.

US clean technologies are already the third largest sector for venture capital – bested only by information and biotechnology.

Further, the report cites data from the Apollo Alliance New Energy for America that says 827,260 jobs could be created in the United States through investment in high-performance buildings alone — both retrofitting and new green construction.

The numbers are big and striking. However, policymakers should be warned that not everyone will share in the bounty. There will be winners and losers. The losers will include companies that are slow to clean up their technologies, heavily polluting industries, and regions where livelihoods depend on those older industries, according to the report.

“The policy challenge is not to let these distinctions become permanent features. The transition to sustainability and greener employment needs to be well planned,” says the report.

Energy efficiency offers a unique job building advantage for communities. Many of the jobs the efficiency industry creates are local. Thus, it will be city and state policymakers that need to do the planning to ensure job-creation in their communities. This may be a good report to pass along to city councilors and state legislators as they vie to keep their local economies upright.

To view the report go to: http://www.ilo.org/integration/greenjobs/index.htm.

Visit energy writer Elisa Wood at www.realenergywriters.com and subscribe to his free EE Markets newsletter and podcast.

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

Twitter: @ElisaWood

LinkedIn: Elisa Wood

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