by Nina Albert | In February 2011, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Collaborative (MARC) published its findings for green businesses and jobs in the DC/ Maryland/Virginia region. The study identified more than 39,000 green businesses in the tri-state region and analyzed survey responses from approximately 10,000 businesses. The survey results indicate that approximately 2% of the District’s workforce (or 11,677 jobs), 4.8% of Maryland’s, and 3.4% of Virginia’s workforce are in green jobs. Green job growth in the region is expected to grow by 12% over the next two years.
Green industry and jobs analysis is a relatively new practice nationally. In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defined the following seven green industries:
- Renewable energy and alternative fuels
- Energy efficiency and energy conservation
- Greenhouse gas reduction (clean transportation)
- Pollution reduction and cleanup
- Recycling and waste reduction
- Sustainable agriculture and natural resource conservation
- Policy, outreach and education
The MARC analysis used BLS’s definitions for green industries and found that the region’s green job distribution is as follows: 30% in energy efficiency; 23% in recycling and waste reduction; 13% in each pollution reduction, education and compliance, and natural resource conservation; 6% in renewable energy; and 3% in greenhouse gas reduction. The District’s green job distribution reflected that the District’s workforce and economic strengths lies in policy development, non-profit work, and education: 36% of the District’s green jobs are in education, compliance, and public awareness.
A comprehensive strategic plan for the District around green industry and job development is still forth-coming; however, it is clear that the District has growth opportunities in several green economic sectors:
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
With the District Department of the Environment’s (DDOE) implementation of four major energy and greenhouse gas reduction initiatives, the potential for growing businesses and jobs in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and greenhouse gas reduction sectors in the District is significant. The most influential energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives are: (i) the ENERGY STAR benchmarking requirement, (ii) development and implementation of a Climate Action Plan, (iii) implementation of the Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU), and (iv)implementation of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program and other energy retrofit financing programs. Very preliminary job creation estimates suggest that DDOE programs could create 300 jobs per year in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors.
Natural Resource Conservation
Currently District’s stormwater permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the year-old tax on disposable plastic and paper bags, and all of DDOE’s Anacostia River and Chesapeake Bay clean-up programs are creating new green jobs as well. The types of jobs created include: green roof installer; landscaper; stream restoration technician; watershed monitor and assessor; water quality inspector; habitat restoration technician. Very preliminary job creation estimates suggest that DDOE policies could create approximately 80 jobs per year in the natural resource conservation sector.
Recycling and Waste Reduction
Another job generation opportunity is to convert and augment existing recycling and waste management jobs by increasing recycling, composting, deconstruction activity, and construction waste recycling in the District. Currently, the recycling regulations are being reviewed, and businesses in composting and waste minimization are growing. DDOE is working with its sister agencies and stakeholders city-wide to identify opportunities to create new green jobs from the thousands of tons of material generated each year and formerly known as “trash.”
The MARC study is the first step to understanding the green industry and available green job opportunities in the region. Now that a baseline of existing industries and jobs has been established, the District and surrounding states can assess growth or retraction in the seven green industry sectors and target new policies, incentives, and assistance to promote green economic growth. For more information about the MARC study, please contact the Maryland Workforce Corporation in Millersville, MD, www.theworkforcecorp.org
Nina Albert is a Special Assistant to the Director at the District Department of the Environment (DDOE).