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Where Are the Green Jobs? - MaryAnne Howland

Where Are the Green Jobs? - MaryAnne Howland

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Published by: svnetwork on Jun 17, 2010
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is next decade will be dened by agrowing phenomenon known as thegreen economy. Today there are titles atcompanies large and small, such as Chief of Green, Vice President of Right Liveli-hood, and Green Team Director. But tounderstand where the real power of thisphenomenon is, you have to follow themoney, and then get your share.
The Green Phenomenon
e Green Jobs Act was passed aspart of the Energy Independence andSecurity Act of 2007 and authorized$125 million per year in funding totrain workers for jobs in energy eciency and renewable energy.e Green Jobs Act denes green jobs as new work for skilled laborers who can install ecient heating andcooling systems and windows, who canretrot homes to save electricity, and who can build and install solar panels, wind turbines, and other clean-energy technologies.But the opportunities go beyond theGreen Jobs Act. It is about the globalcompetition to become the leader of aclean-energy economy that is creatinggreen jobs. Green jobs are the new jobsbeing created at a quickening pace incompanies that are investing in sus-tainability. is investment is changingthe way the world does business, fuel-ing innovation, and redrawing new business lines.Today, most forward-thinking com-panies incorporate green business prac-tices and principles into their corporatefabric. Fortune 500 companies like Pit-ney Bowes have elevated their environ-mental practices to design products tohave a minimal environmental impactat every stage, from manufacturing anddistribution to eventual return and re-covery, and to provide innovative solu-tions to help customers reduce theirenvironmental impact as well. Motorolaaims to design products to use less ener-gy, to contain environmentally preferredmaterials, and to be highly recyclable.ese policies provide good favor forpublic relations and are a smart way tosave resources and reduce waste to savemillions of dollars. Most in the LOHASspace understand this or are at least pay-ing attention. But how can we increasethese business practices and provide eco-nomic opportunities to minority groups?
Carpe Diem, the early bird…, andno excuses
It is important to recognize that within minority communities, thegreening of America is largely a social- justice issue. Communities of color areknown as a dumping ground for envi-ronmental waste, and thus there is sig-nicant work that must be done,legislatively, in terms of correcting envi-ronmental injustice. e need for com-munity leaders and activists to leadorganizations to make the kind of change that will create more sustainablecommunities means education, informa-tion, and grassroots activism. e invest-ment in human capital to lead, to train,and to create enterprise will lead to green jobs in government, nonprot, and for-prot sectors. Given the commitmentfrom the Obama Administration to en-sure that opportunities from the new green economy are available to a broadcross section of the American people,green businesses and green jobs are thenext big opportunity for people of color.La Onda Verda, a nonprot organiza-tion, performs outreach and advocacy onenvironmental issues in the Latin com-munity. “e green jobs movement is re-ally benecial to all,” says AdriannaQuintero, the group’s founder and direc-tor. “Not only will green jobs provide usa way of helping the environment, they are an entirely new economic opportuni-ty for communities that have been his-torically underserved.
in turmoil, the idea of reinven-tion is so right for society Yet how does one reinventoneself? is is a most relevant question for the state of our global union.
“Weatherization, for example, is a nat-ural t for minority communities andLatinos who make up a large part of theconstruction trade to become informed,”she continues. “e challenge is to besure that we’re really opening opportuni-ties to everyone and making trainingavailable to all.”But Quintero is also quick to note thatthis change is not going to last long. “If you look at the tech wave, minority com-munities were not a part of that. ey came in too late to be in the forefront.But if we get the information out therenow, we can help them lead the way.”Roger Rivera is president and founderof the National Hispanic EnvironmentalCouncil (NHEC), and chair of the Na-tional Latino Commission on ClimateChange (NLCCC). “What is the eco-nomic message of the green economy? Itputs money in your pocket,” says Rivera.He is committed to bridging the gap be-tween opportunity and communities of color. “People of color are still horribly under-represented at every environmentalagency. Not only in the work force, butparticipation in education programs. With regard to minority business oppor-tunities, participation is dismal—thatneeds to change.”In an eort to catalyze that change,NHEC has created the Minority YouthEnvironmental Training Institute totrain the next generation with several en-vironmental education programs. Since2002, NHEC has trained over 1,000people of color who have gone from col-lege to work at federal environmentalagencies or green groups.Giving green economic options to un-derserved communities was the basis forthe establishment of Van Jones’ Green for All organization. Jones is the former White House Advisor for Green Jobs andauthor of the New York Times best seller
Te Green Collar Economy 
. e organiza-tion works to build an inclusive greeneconomy strong enough to lift people outof poverty. Today, Green for All is led by Phaedra Ellis-Lampkin. “Green jobs pro-vide a career path. ey support a living wage and sustain a healthy economy,”says Ellis-Lampkin. “ey also provideopportunities for new businesses for in-novators. We realize that people of colorneed to be able to innovate.”Stephanie Owens agrees that commu-nities of color are under-engaged. Owensis the EPA’s Director of Public Engage-ment and says her department is commit-ted to expanding the conversation toinclude all stakeholders in the future of the economy. “We are proud of an ad-ministration that is using the recovery todrive the future of energy technology,”says Owens. “Everyone isn’t in this greenspace. Even if they are, they are only in aportion of it. is is a great space for en-trepreneurs to ll. People who jump inearly and condently are the ones whocan take advantage of it.”
Green = Green
is should be a wake-up call for en-trepreneurs as well as job seekers.Predictions and forecasts from globaleconomists, industry experts, and futur-ists agree that the green economy has thepotential to create tens of thousands of  jobs, outperforming the dot-com bubble.e dierence this time around may be amore level playing eld for prosperity.Government and private and public com-panies are putting in the money. Greenmanufacturing and green productivity are at the forefront. Jerome Ringo isbanking on it. e former president of  Apollo Alliance is currently a senior ex-ecutive of Green Port Biofuels, a climate-solutions company. He recommends, “If I’m looking for a new business to go into,I’m going green.”e U.S. Department of Energy isalso making signicant investments withmore than $8 billion for weatherizationprojects in local communities. is work involves installing new energy-ecient windows and doors, updating insulation,and encouraging state and local govern-ments to use more fuel-ecient vehiclesand renewable forms of energy. Incen-tives for switching to clean energy appli-ances and solutions come in the form of tax credits and rebates, helping to stimu-late market demand. A new idea doesn’t require an MBA,Ph.D., Esq., or J.D. International styledoyenne Audrey Smaltz says you justneed an IKWIK—“I know what I know.”Turning what you know into a green en-terprise is priceless. Ringo tells a story of meeting such a “guts and instincts” en-trepreneur who had two old pickuptrucks he had parked in his backyard. Herebuilt them and noticed that the city came around once a week to clearbranches from his street. e man toldthe city, “Let me pick them up—nocharge.” He found an abandoned ware-house, rented a grinding machine, andbegan selling the bags of mulch back tothe city to use them for landscaping. Hestarted a green business from nothing.Now he recycles all types of materialsand sells them back to market. “He wentgreen and now he’s rich,” says Ringo. A green jobs-creation story can befound in Joseph Ramirez. He is the own-er of Viento Solutions, which specializesin engineering and manufacturing windturbines. He plans to have several dier-ent units that will be produced in NorthCarolina, and government stimulusfunds will be used for engineering, oper-ations, and job creation. Ramirez expectsto create 850 jobs “with good salaries.” As a U.S.-based supplier, his company has a competitive edge over China, a po-tential competitor. As the world’s second-largest energy consumer, China seeks toreduce its dependence on fossil fuels by investing in wind power. “We can pro-vide a responsive production line, fastturnaround, and tech support right herein the U.S.,” says Ramirez. As this space matures and becomesmore a part of our lifestyle and culture,opportunities for businesses and jobs willmultiply and become more pervasiveacross industries and within our econo-my. is has created an opportunity fornot only recovery but reinvention. AndPresident Obama has backed it with fullgovernment support.
Continued on page 47 >
“PEOPLE OF COLOR are still horriblyunder-represented at everyenvironmental agency. Not onlyin the work force, but participationin education programs. With regardto minority business opportunities,participation is dismal—that needsto change.”

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