CleanEdison: 3 Million Green Economy Jobs by 2020
As we move into the fourth quarter of 2012, economic recovery and job growth continues to dominate the conversation on both Wall Street and Main Street. Tepid recovery since the Great Recession of 2008 leaves us with a headline unemployment rate of 7.8% today.
However, when we look at job creation and industry growth in areas such as energy efficiency, solar energy, and smart grids, we see tremendous growth potential. We estimate that by the end of 2020, nearly 1 million people will be employed in the fastest growing green jobs sectors and nearly 3 million people will be employed in the green economy as a whole.
HVAC, Solar, Geothermal, and Smart Grid Lead Green Job Growth
Green job opportunities grew at a steady rate in the last decade and this trend will continue over the next eight years. Among the growing green job positions, jobs in HVAC, solar, geothermal and smart grid have the highest projected growth rate in the next decade. In 2003, there were 585,654 jobs in HVAC and Building Control Systems; it reached 73,600 by the end of 2010. This number will increase by 29% and hit 94,944 in 2020.
An important part of this job growth trajectory is the “greening” of existing jobs. Based on our internal data and data gathered from accrediting bodies such as the Building Performance Institute (BPI) and the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), we’ve estimated that by 2020, there will be a total of 1.4 million workers certified in renewable energy, green building practices, and energy efficiency.
1.4 Million Total Certified Green Energy Workers by 2020
The greatest increase in demand will come in commercial energy efficiency initiatives, as awareness grows among building owners and managers of the cost savings that can be realized through energy efficiency. For example, building operators who are trained in energy efficiency save an estimated 72,000 kWh per year, equivalent to $12,000 annually at national electricity rates.
Green job training makes economic sense for workers as well as employers, particularly workers with lower educational attainment. In many green job sectors, nearly half of the employees have a H.S. diploma or less, yet are employed at wages significantly higher than the national average for workers with their level of education.
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