Energy Efficiency Can Grow Jobs and Boost American Manufacturing
The energy efficiency industry holds immense potential to create quality jobs while boosting the economy and saving consumers money, but it’s often overlooked. At the Environmental and Energy Study Institute’s Renewable and Energy Efficiency Expo on Capitol Hill last week, the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation’s Building Clean Senior Program Associate, Silvia Lucero, took part in a panel discussion, sharing with the crowd the massive opportunity to create quality jobs in the energy efficiency sector.
There are currently at least 2.25 million Americans employed in energy efficiency, including manufacturing or installing energy-efficient products, Lucero told the crowd. But that’s likely a very conservative estimate. The 2.25 million count tallies only workers manufacturing or installing Energy Star products. However, there are thousands of efficiency products that don’t go through certification rating for Energy Star for a variety of reasons.
Not only is the energy efficiency sector massive, it’s growing. Last year 67,000 new jobs were created in the energy efficiency sector, 40 percent of which were in manufacturing. Nearly 60 percent of energy efficiency jobs are in construction, that’s one out of every six construction jobs.
“It is promising to see sustained job growth in energy efficiency and we need to do everything we can to keep that growing. We all know that America continues to lose its middle class. But manufacturing and construction jobs historically have delivered good jobs with family sustainable wages and benefits. Those are the type of jobs we need more of. That’s why we need effective policy that increases energy efficiency requirements, drives technological innovation, and creates market demand,” Lucero said.
Energy efficiency jobs are found in every U.S. state and more than 70 percent of them are in small businesses. The BlueGreen Alliance Foundation has compiled a database (available to use for free at buildingclean.org) of more than 3,000 U.S. facilities manufacturing energy-efficient products. It includes manufacturers of appliances, heating and cooling products, windows, doors, skylights, roofing insulation, plumbing, sealants, lighting, and water filtration systems.
With that many energy efficiency manufacturers located right here in the United States, it seems like a no-brainer that policies should be in place to ensure that government projects take advantage of this strong, growing, American industry. Smart procurement policies, like Buy American, can provide needed investment and create jobs in this area even more.
The job growth potential of this sector is just one significant benefit of America having a strong energy efficiency industry. Energy efficiency saves consumers money and improves school and work attendance. Energy efficient facilities even have positive impacts on occupants’ health.
When it comes to energy efficiency, the benefits just keep coming.