Energy Efficiency Workforce
Tiffany Perrin seals leaky windows and walls. Sonny Gordon makes well-insulated building panels. Marilyn Bryce-Schanhals provides affordable, energy-saving home upgrades.
These are the faces of the growing energy efficiency workforce. In the United States alone, at least 2.25 million people work directly, some or all of their time, on energy-saving products and services. They outnumber all the workers who produce coal, oil, gas, and electricity, including renewables.
As US cities push forward to meet their clean energy goals, they will need a strong, capable energy efficiency workforce to make critical energy-saving upgrades and investments. Our new report, Through the Local Government Lens: Developing the Energy Efficiency Workforce, shows how cities can take an active role in growing the workforce and extend its benefits to underserved communities.
The New York Times recently reported that the solar industry now employs more people than the coal industry. It made the point well by featuring the accompanying graphic, based on Department of Energy data that track employment in various energy sectors:
As the US unemployment rate nears a 10-year low, some companies report trouble finding skilled workers. The problem is particularly pervasive, as new data show, in the energy efficiency sector.
More than 80% of employers in this sector report at least some difficulty finding qualified job applicants, and more than 40% indicate it’s “very difficult,” according to the Department of Energy’s second annual energy and employment report released this month.
As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office next week, he will be looking to make good on his campaign promise to create jobs and strengthen the economy. He needs look no further than energy efficiency. A new report shows it’s already supporting at least 1.9 million US jobs.
Energy efficiency is increasingly viewed as an essential element of community development, and is arguably becoming the most appreciated and integrated “green” topic in the field. For example, a growing number of state housing finance agencies actively encourage the inclusion of energy-efficient features in the properties in which they invest.
Champions within industrial facilities may be the largest piece missing from the energy policy and program landscape. Some energy program administrators are sponsoring the placement of dedicated energy managers at industrial facilities to overcome the obstacles to energy optimization. These pilot efforts seek to accelerate the pace and volume of industrial energy efficiency projects.
This Energy Efficiency Summer School Will Inspire the Next Generation of EE Researchers and Practitioners
In addition to his work at RASEI, Paul Komar is a lecturer in the environmental studies program at the University of Colorado Boulder.
As the energy efficiency field grows, the demand for talented and well-trained energy efficiency professionals keeps climbing. Where will these folks come from? Will they have the right skills and knowledge? Will they continue and accelerate the progress we've made in increasing energy efficiency?
The impact of investments in energy efficiency extends well beyond reducing energy costs or addressing the environmental impacts of energy extraction and use. These investments provide jobs for American workers and help them to support their families and communities.
The economic benefits of energy efficiency extend far beyond lowering energy bills for consumers. Efficiency also contributes to economic development and job creation. But who benefits most from these economic opportunities? At every step of the economic value chain produced by efficiency investments (see figure below), there are opportunities to target the economic and social benefits to those households, businesses, geographies, or sectors for whom they will make the biggest difference.