Building new industries

Green building blocks

Each green building project creates jobs by growing the market for a wide range of products and services, including high performance building materials, energy rating services, weatherization, salvage and recycling operations, landscaping that controls stormwater, and potentially solar panel installation and more. Local businesses are beginning to take advantage of this burgeoning market. Many in our region are beginning to leverage our emerging green marketplace to attract clean technology firms.

Green government spurs growth

Green building legislation in Washington, D.C. and Montgomery County has generated support for similar measures in surrounding jurisdictions. A wave of changes to energy and stormwater policy, rebates for the installation of green roofs and solar panels, and lead paint abatement measures, among other initiatives, are gaining support in the region. Local governments and businesses see the green ($$) in encouraging a green economy. Because green jobs tend to be local jobs, more profits are spent in the community. (See the Sustaining the Economy page for more).

Getting ahead with green

Not only is the green economy growing fast - some economists rank it as the fifth largest market sector in the U.S. -it also offers opportunities to low-skill workers and small and disadvantaged businesses.

Because green services take local environmental conditions and community input into account; local businesses have an advantage in winning green contracts. Additionally, as green development aims to reduce transportation costs and associated greenhouse gas emissions, local manufacturers gain ground. With training, many of these same businesses can begin to do more. Mechanical engineers can become commissioning agents, and contractors can become energy raters. Landscapers can adopt and offer low impact development (LID) best management practices to improve stormwater management, and roofers can begin to install solar PV systems and/or reflective roof materials to reduce energy use and to limit the heat island effect. Manufacturers, for their part, can develop nontoxic and locally made product lines.

Many of the "green collar" jobs that could come to the DC metropolitan area present good opportunities for low-skill workers to get ahead. Expanding local businesses will be able to hire people from the community, and workers will grow with their jobs. Contractors and their crews who learn advanced framing techniques and who gain experience with air sealing and new insulation products will be able to win new business. Beyond green building, environmental remediation and green product manufacturing offer excellent professional opportunities.


Greening the Washington Metropolitan Region's Built Environment, a report of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Intergovernmental Green Building Group (background page with link to download)

Green-Collar Jobs in America's Cities, report and video by the Apollo Alliance with the Center for American Progress and the Center on Wisconsin Strategy

Green Collar Jobs Study and Report, an analysis of Berkeley, California.

Green Jobs by the Numbers, Center for American Progress