Clean energy jobs continue to make inroads in the U.S. economy. Growth in these jobs was a robust 9.1 percent between 1998 and 2007 compared to 3.7 percent overall, and in January President Obama promised $2.3 billion in Recovery Act Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Creditsfor clean-energy manufacturing projects nationwide that will createtens of thousands of clean-energy jobs. Meanwhile, the stimulus bill ispumping $30 billion into the clean-energy sector, and aggressive smartgrid deployment could create 270,000 U.S. jobs and a further 138,000 if our smart grid technologies are exported to a global market.
Some regions have become green jobs strongholds. Here are the top five U.S. cities that are seeing the most growth:
California leads the nation in clean-energy jobs with roughly 125,000—and San Francisco is a big source for these jobs. The Clean Edge reportidentifies the Bay Area as the number one metro area for cleantechnology job activity, and San Francisco recently passed $100 millionin revenue bonds to support renewable energy projects. More than 50percent of the city’s commuters travel on public transportation and 20big construction projects have recently applied for LEED certification.
It’s no surprise that the Greater Boston area is a leader in greentechnology. After all, it has the highest concentration of colleges anduniversities of any metropolitan area in the world. Boston—includingWorcester, Lawrence, Lowell, and Brockton—ranks fourth in the CleanEdge survey of 15 top U.S. metro areas for clean-tech job creation. Andtwo big sources of green construction and engineering jobs in Bostonare wind power—it’s the city’s third-largest fuel source—and the factthat new buildings have to be constructed to meet LEED certificationstandards.
Mayor Tom Menino appointed an Energy Management Board in 2003, whichstudied energy use in 362 municipal buildings and identified potentialsavings. For the second consecutive year, Menino’s Boston Green Awardsincluded a separate category for bike-friendly businesses.
There’s good news for Detroit despite Michigan’s 15.3 percentunemployment rate. Department of Energy green technology grants to fundfactories and create green jobs will tap into the Motor City’s skilledautomotive workforce to bring hybrid and electric technology to theforefront of the American auto industry. Michigan had already createdmore than 22,000 clean-tech jobs by 2007, and the new federal grantswill make those numbers grow. Automotive companies not based in Detroithave recently opened hubs in the city, and a mechanical engineerworking on plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles in Detroit can expectto make $63,600 median pay with a bachelor’s degree, reports Clean Edge.
Oregon may struggle with unemployment like the rest of the UnitedStates, but with more than 20,000 clean-energy jobs created in 2007alone—the most in the nation—it’s clear that sustainable Portlandis the place to be. The city gets half of its power from renewableenergy sources, 35 percent of its buildings have been certified by theU.S. Green Building Council, and a quarter of the workforce commutes towork by bike, carpool, or public transportation. The city’s $50 million“Grey to Green”initiative, which began in July 2008, aims to add 43 acres of ecoroofs,plant 33,000 yard trees and 50,000 street trees, and restore nativevegetation while halting the spread of invasive plants to better managestormwater—all of which will help create a green-collar workforce forPortland’s already green economy.
New York City
There are plenty of opportunities for green jobs in New York City.“Growing Green Collar Jobs,” a collaboration between 50 community,labor, and private sector groups in New York City, supportsorganizations such as Sustainable South Bronx,which has worked since 2001 to move South Bronx residents from welfareto green-collar jobs through education, outreach, and programs like“Greening the Ghetto.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched PlaNYC 2030 in 2007, a program with 127 greening initiatives, including $1 billion for retrofitting buildingsto boost energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30percent, create homes for more than 1 million New Yorkers, and ensurethat all residents live within a 10-minute walk to a park. Meetingthese goals will create thousands of green-collar jobs in a variety offields from urban forestry to renewable energy. In addition, 80 percentof Big Apple residents use public transportation, which is a boon forthe city’s goal to have the cleanest air quality of any major U.S. city.