Green Jobs Climate Heats Up in D.C. Region

Published in the Jobs Section of the Washington Post Weekend Edition, Aug. 9, 2012.

As we humans more environmentally conscious, so does the area job market. According to the D.C. Office of Planning, emerging green initiatives could produce more than 169,000 green job opportunities from 2009 to 2028, many of which will result from private sector real estate development projects that required to comply with the Green Building Act.

Learn more about green industry trade associations:
  • American Wind Energy Association (awea.org)
  • American Solar Energy Society (ases.org)
  • Solar Electric Power Association (solarelectricpower.org)
  • Solar Energy Industries Association (seia.org)
  • The Wind Coalition (windcoalition.org)
  • The BlueGreen Alliance (bluegreenalliance.org)

Online resources for green jobs:

  • thegreenjobbank.com
  • eco.org
  • greenjoba.com
  • greenindustryjobs.com
  • grist.org
  • greenbiz.com
  • triplepundit.com
  • cleantechnica.com
  • earthtechling.com

So, what exactly qualifies as a green job? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, green jobs include jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources; and jobs in which workers' duties involve making their establishment's processes more environmentally friendly. In addition to technical positions, this includes jobs in engineering, research, accounting, marketing, sales, management and administration.

"The notion of 'green collar jobs' is misleading and limiting" said Bernard Ferret, president of TheGreenJobBank, the leading search engine for green jobs. His search engine crawls the web daily to provide the most current listings available from thousands of websites. The listings come from businesses, nonprofit organizations, trade associations, research labs, green recruiters, and green job boards. The site features hundreds of employer profiles enabling job seekers to research easily the green companies for which they want to work.

"The D.C. area is very different from the rest of the country because it's home to nonprofits such as the World Resources Institute, World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, GreenPeace, the Sierra Club and The Nature Conservancy" Ferret observed. Of the 10,000 jobs currently on Ferret's website, some 320 are in D.C., with another 320 in Virginia, and 200 in Maryland, many of which are with nonprofits.

For many green employers, the biggest recruiting challenge they face is workforce education and certification. "Our educational system doesn't produce enough trained and certified workers" said Ferret. He reported this to be particularly the case for solar installation and green building jobs.

But for other openings, you need the same skills as you'd need in similar jobs in another type of organization, including passion and commitment. "Our biggest challenge tends to be finding really good communicators," said Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, which is working to build and mobilize a grassroots movement in our region to call for state, national and international policies that will put us on a path to climate stability. "Organizing for anything, including clean energy solutions, requires good, clear and compelling communications. and I don't see a lot of that skill" he added.

"The green industry is dominated primarily by startups founded by passionate people who have cultivated a product or service that aligns with their values system with the development of a healthy profit center" explained Karen Biscoe, founder of Massachusetts-based Green Search Partner, a full service search firm focusing on executive level recruiting. "When these companies are building a team, they are no different from other entrepreneurs, they want technical depth a well rounded resume and a deep commitment to their mission," she said.

"If you don't value equity as much as stabilityand a steady paycheck, the gren industry may not be the best palce for you," said Biscoe. "But if it is for yo, the persistence of social networking in the recruiting industry has definitively shaped the search process," she continued. "I can sum it up this way: it's no longer who or what you know, it's who knows you."