We are leaving the “aughts” behind, the decade of 2000-2009, when the housing market, retirement plans, bank balances and job prospects seemed to produce more zeros than anything else.
As we enter the “teens”, the decade from 2010-2019, we have a chance to turn much of what was wasted over the past decade into resources for the next. And jobs are tops on the list. Where will the up and coming “green” jobs be during the “’teens”? Who’s going to be in the thick of conservation and turning waste into resources? With more government investment in renewable energy, waste reduction, and efficient transportation, this could be the decade of the green job.
Last year Fast Company took a look at this, and came up with the following list. We want to review them here at the dawn of the decade, see how they link to conservation and transformation of waste to resources. We’ve included where you can train or study for these jobs as well.In the upcoming months we’ll focus on individual jobs, and see what it takes to qualify for them and to do a stellar job at them.
The 10 are:
The average age of farmers in America is 55. The necessary shift toward local and organic methods, which conserve the soil and water, reuse manure and crop residues will also require more farmers and fewer fossil fuel guzzling machines. Food guru Michael Pollan says we’ll need millions of new farmers, urban gardeners, cheese makers, bakers, brewers and other niche food producers, creating great tasting food for local markets.
Programs to check out: University of Vermont: Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture; University of Oklahoma: Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Evergreen State College: Sustainable Agriculture Program.
With deforestation rampant, sustainable forestry is desperately needed. Foresters can help local people shift from slash-and-burn practices to cultivating higher-value, faster-growing species for fruit, medicine or timber, while preserving natural forest habitats for species, tribes and ecotourism. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified lumber is making the same kinds of market gains as organic food.
Programs to check out: Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies; Duke University: Nicholas School of the Environment; University of Michigan: School of Natural Resources & Environment.
Solar Power Installer
Every day, 13,000 times the energy needed to power all human society falls on us as sunlight. Installing solar hot water systems and photovoltaic cells are good paying jobs – $15 to $35 an hour – for those with construction skills. There’s a real need for installer wherever the sun shines. Right now 3,400 companies sector employ 25,000-35,000 workers in solar. The Solar Energy Industries Association predicts an increase to over 110,000 jobs by 2016 – even more if anticipated tax credits are accelerated.
Companies to check out: Akeena Solar; Sungevity; Sunpower; PV2, SEIA.org.
Energy Efficiency Builder
The cheapest energy is the energy you conserve. Buildings use 48% of US energy. LEED, Passivhaus and MINERGIE-P buildings use between 75% and 95% less heat energy than the same buildings constructed to the latest codes in the US. We’ll need lots of retrofitters who can recycle the aging US building stock into energy efficient showplaces. The Obama stimulus package supports billions in green building and energy retrofits.
Programs to check out: Arizona State University School of Architecture; University of Michigan: Alfred A. Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning; The Earth Institute at Columbia University.
Wind Turbine Fabricator
Wind is the leading and fastest-growing source of alternative energy, competitive with fossil fuels. Autoworkers and others in manufacturing jobs can use their skills to make wind turbines. American Wind Energy Association job board is an excellent place to start looking for the 10,000 or more jobs added in wind every year.
Want a rescue job with a deadline? The race to conserve ecosystems and ecosystem services worldwide provides opportunities in teaching, research and fieldwork for government, nonprofits, and private companies. The Obama stimulus package offers increased federal support for science and research.
Programs to check out: Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington; Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University. At College of the Atlantic every degree is in human ecology; it’s been called the most sustainable college or university in the world.
Green MBA and Entrepreneur
Our friend John Elkington coined the term triple bottom line – people, planet, profit – and it’s now gone mainstream in the business world. The U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Center found that business services like legal, research and consulting account for over 400,000 green jobs. This runs from marketing health foods and safe cleaners to being a VP of Sustainability within a large company, to growing a green startup like Big Belly Solar or Preserve.
Programs to check out: Stanford School of Business; San Francisco’s Presidio School of Management; Leeds School of Business; Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Washington; Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at Cornell.
There are more than a million recycling jobs in the United States. Markets for paper and plastics are picking up again in this recovery, steel stays strong nearly half of all new steel is recycled, and recycling is THE economical alternative to high disposal fees. The US is a major center of recycled steel, thanks to companies like Nucor. New laws and regulations create need forcompanies that can “close the loop” by recycling and repurposing bottles, cans, e-waste, clothing, plastic bags, construction waste, and just about anything
Companies: Nucor; Rumpke; Recycle America; Preserve; Greenstar North America.
Sustainability Systems Developer
The green economy needs specialized software developers and engineers who design, build, and maintain networks of sensors and modeling that support wind farms, smart energy grids, and other systems that swap intelligence for resources. Developers familiar with open source and web 2.0 applications or experience with large scale enterprise resource planning are needed.
Companies: IBM, Gridpoint, WindLogics
Urban planning is key the quest to conserve resources and lower America’s carbon footprint. Growing mass transit, shrinking sprawl, supporting pedal and pedestrian traffic over autos as well as planning for floods, heat waves and waste management are key strategies for cities and regions. Jobs here are projected to grow 15 percent in the next 6 years, most of them in local government, providing a little more security in tough times.
Programs to check out:Penn Institute for Urban Research; Harvard: Department of Urban Planning and Design; Portland State University: Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning.
So if you got a pink slip in the past year, don’t be blue, go Green in your new job!
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