Green Jobs: What They Are and Why You Should Care

“Green jobs” are the wave of the employment future, if politicians, pundits, and leaders in business and industry know what they’re talking about. These jobs, we’re told, cannot be outsourced to other countries and do not put undue pressure on the natural environment. These jobs promise to help both the environmental and economic situations at the same time.

Pretty good stuff. But what, in fact, are these jobs? And why are they important to readers of this blog?

According to a well-informed article from September 23 in the Salem Statesman Journal (Salem, Oregon), “green jobs are those involved in developing, producing, installing and maintaining renewable energy resources, or in making what we already have more energy efficient.”

Let’s take that description apart and consider it piece by piece:

Green jobs focus on the efficient use of energy. What is energy? As everybody who ever took a high school chemistry class will remember, the simplest definition of energy is “the ability to do work.” What ultimately makes the human body or an automobile or an air-conditioning system work? The answer is energy, that indestructible whatever-it-is which makes up the universe and cannot be destroyed.

Green jobs are built upon renewable energy resources. A “resource” is simply something we can make use of. Oil and other fossil fuels aren’t renewable resources because they take millions of years to create, which effectively makes them a one-time endowment for planet earth and the human race. But other sources of energy are naturally replenished on a short time scale: solar power, wind power, hydroelectric power, biomass (organic matter such as grasses and corn), and so on. Therefore, they won’t run out. They also boast the advantage of being available everywhere.

Green jobs are those jobs which are “involved in developing, producing, installing, and maintaining” these renewable energy resources. This can mean a huge array of things, as listed in the Statesman Journal article. For readers of Just Venting, probably the two most important words here are “installing” and “maintaining.” The green buildings of the future will be heated and cooled by HVAC systems that are installed and maintained using tools and according to specifications that are drastically more efficient in their energy use compared to today’s standards. Naturally, the use of these new systems will involve new training or retraining for building engineers, equipment installers, maintenance crews, and more.

Green jobs also involve “making what we already have more energy efficient.” In other words, they involve the “green retrofits” we’re hearing so much about, in which buildings that were not originally designed and constructed according to energy efficient principles are remodeled and transformed into more ecologically friendly structures.

So what’s the upshot of all this for the Just Venting crowd? The upshot, quite simply, is job security. Again, the Statesman Journal article makes the point: “Many green jobs are in occupations that already exist in our economy. Retrofitting buildings, for example, involves electricians, HVAC installers, carpenters, roofers, insulation workers, truck drivers, building inspectors, and many other existing occupations.”

And as if that weren’t encouraging enough, there’s the additional fact that “employers have struggled to find trained workers in many of [these] occupations.…For example, job openings for welders, electricians, HVAC installers, millwrights, and truck drivers have been hard to fill.” Additionally, “Many businesses say it’s difficult to find workers with high levels of special skills, especially engineers, in the domestic workforce, so they bring skilled foreign workers to the U. S. on a special visa program.”

There’s your answer. The green jobs revolution has created and will continue to create a huge demand for people who can learn and apply the new engineering, construction, installation, and maintenance methods involved in ultra-efficient buildings. These people are presently in short supply in the U.S., so much so that some U.S. businesses are going overseas to find them. Simply knowing about this already puts you ahead of the curve. The next step, of course, is to go out and actually take advantage of the opportunities that are cropping up right around you.

Click here for more about the bright future of HVAC jobs.

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