November was Veterans Month and we wanted to showcase green job opportunities for our service men and women on our CoP. The video link highlights a non-profit organization- Veterans Green Jobs based in Denver, Colorado that's working hard to make sure our veterans are connected to green jobs.
Our guest blogger Bonnie Graybill, the Deputy
Division Chief, Labor Market Information Division from California writes a
final farewell blog about Understanding the Green Economy. As Bonnie prepares for retirement this month,
we wish her all the best and thank her for contributing to our community of practice.
The U.S. Department of Labor announced the availability of a new online toolkit to guide employers through the process for hiring veterans. The free toolkit is designed to assist and educate employers who have made the proactive decision to include veterans and wounded warriors in their recruitment and hiring initiatives.
Editor's Note: Our guest blogger is Charlie Johnson, Green Jobs Economist, Oregon Employment Department.
What is the Future of Green Jobs Research?
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis published a number of interesting articles related to green jobs recently, joining the growing ranks of national entities to weigh in on the topic. However, the Minneapolis Fed’s discussion took on a decidedly different tone than that used by other groups – they go so far as to depict a cheery-looking green balloon labeled “The great green hope” being squeezed by a sharp-toothed vice one might find in a metal-worker’s shop. The same balloon is found on another page under imminent threat of being pricked by a nail. The message is clear: the Minneapolis Fed has taken a step back, and wants to be certain that expectations surrounding green jobs match up with the realities of our current economy and job market.
I would like to commend the Minneapolis Fed, and Ronald A. Wirtz, for their courage in taking a stance that is somewhat in opposition to popular discourse. Mr. Wirtz authored all three articles related to green jobs in the October edition of the FedGazette.
In his article “The many shades of green” Mr. Wirtz points out, correctly, that that the act of counting green jobs is somewhat subjective. A number of states around the country have developed their own definitions of “green job”. In addition, different definitions are being used by many national groups ranging from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to the PEW Research Center to the Office of the Vice President. Some groups are surveying businesses to identify green jobs, some are estimating jobs by counting industry employment, and others are using economic models to predict green jobs. These problems have been discussed extensively in the Labor Market Information community, and have been addressed by others on this blog (see Michelle Melton’s post). It doesn’t seem there will be any cohesion in green jobs research in the foreseeable future.
However, I think the “shotgun” approach to green jobs definitions and research may actually be a good thing. For example, a number of research projects using different methods and definitions have found that green jobs currently account for less than five percent of the workforce. While the details of each study differ, the general conclusion that green jobs make up a small part of the workforce seems more concrete given the variation of methods and definitions.
This brings us to the crux of Mr. Wirtz’ point, put forth in his article “The great green hope”: are expectations surrounding green jobs disconnected from (or at least greatly exceeding) reality? In the Oregon Employment Department’s green jobs survey, employers in Oregon indicated that green jobs made up only three percent of the state’s non-federal workforce in 2008 (www.QualityInfo.org/Green). While 51,000 green jobs is not an insignificant figure in our medium-small west-coast state, when I give presentations about this information I am often met with shock from audience members – many of whom apparently think the number is or should be much larger. In the same survey, Oregon employers predicted that their green jobs would grow 14 percent by 2010. Compared to a statewide projection of nine percent growth from 2008 to 2018, this double-digit two-year growth projection seems wildly optimistic. While no follow-up survey has been conducted to see if that prediction came true, other research conducted in Oregon indicates that green jobs make up only two percent of all the open positions advertised in the state… not exactly a bellwether for strong economic growth. Even if employers’ predictions were on the mark two years ago, 14 percent growth in green jobs would only equate to 7,400 jobs – in a state that lost about 140,000 jobs over the same two-year period. While any new job is a good thing, it is becoming increasingly clear that green jobs growth alone isn’t going to pull the unemployment rate down to pre-recession levels.
Mr. Wirtz, in his article titled “Green: What role government?” claims the promise of funding has resulted in a patchwork of state and local policies and initiatives designed to draw Federal dollars for job creation despite the fact that economic research (conducted by the Minneapolis Fed) shows “incentive wars among local and state governments to attract or retain jobs… is a zero-sum game at best.” This third article does a good job of framing a conversation about the intersection of environmental, employment, and policy goals.
This discussion of a possible disconnect between the expectations and realities of green jobs leaves me wondering what the proper role of the Labor Market Information community is going forward. Funding that has allowed state workforce agencies to focus on green jobs research over the past few years will likely dry up next summer, when our federally funded grant programs expire. There will undoubtedly be continued interest in, and demand for, information about green jobs. But there is also significant demand for information about health care jobs, manufacturing jobs, high-wage jobs, and many others groups of jobs. I am sure most state workforce research groups will try to continue providing high quality green jobs information, but they will find it increasingly difficult without additional funding.
So, I would like to pose these two questions to the community for discussion:
1. How much of our limited time, energy, and resources should we invest in continuing to research one small portion of the workforce when there are other areas that may be growing just as much or providing just as many job opportunities?
2. Given our problems with scarce resources, how should we focus future green jobs research efforts to provide the most useful information possible for data users at the least cost?
Editor’s Note: Nick Prigo is a guest blogger and Green Buildings Metrics Analyst for the 32BJ Thomas Shortman Training Fund in New York City, which received a $2.8million U.S. DOL Energy Training Partnership Grant to fund its program 1,000 Green Supers. To learn more about the program that Victor Nazario graduated from view last week's post.
In 1978, Victor Nazario went looking for a job as a doorman in New York City. He was hired as a temporary doorman at a luxurious Central Park South building, but what the then 18-year-old discovered while he was working there changed his life. Nazario, a young exuberant teen met a fellow Latino who was the building's resident manager. Nazario was taken back by the idea that a minority could have such a nice job. Intrigued, he asked the manager how he got the job.
The resident manager first told Nazario that he could have a job like that too, through the free schooling through 32BJ. "Nobody gave me permission before to have a job like that. I didn't think I could." Nazario says that this information was a life changer for him. He immediately signed up for the free courses and earned his first superintendent job when he was just 21 years old.
If his inspiring story just ended here, it would be pretty impressive, but for this enthusiastic young man, it was only the start of his accomplishments. "I was the first one in my family to ever graduate high school and the first one to go to college and it was because 32BJ opened up my eyes as to what I can do," he says. He has since gone on to earn his doctorate in theology.
"My kids won't know what it is to say, 'I don't think I can do that,'" he says. Nazario has been in the business for 29 years and has been the resident manager of The Whitney at 311 East 38th Street for the last six years. He is responsible for 118 units and eight employees, including porters, doormen, and handymen. Never one to stop learning, he became one of the first participants of the 1,000 Green Supers program with Douglas Elliman property management, where he learned skills to reduce energy use, save money, and operate and maintain his building efficiently. "The industry is always morphing and I wanted to learn more," he says.
"This program really changed the way I view my building. When I first entered the industry years ago a super's job was simply to fix things and handle emergencies, and that is what we learned to do. This class [The 1,000 Green Supers program] really made me think about the way I superintend and reflect on how I had done my job to date. It taught me to look at my building as a system, to think about how the building envelope effects heat flow, how the roof impacts air movement, and how lighting effects heat loads."
Nazario reviewed his building from top to bottom to see the changes he could make so it was more energy-efficient. He has already implemented changes including fixing doors that remained partially opened, installing motion sensors in service rooms, compactor rooms, laundry rooms and storage rooms, rewrapping piping and changing light bulbs to those that are more energy efficient."
Victor has since gone on to receive the Green Building Service Worker of the Year Award from Manhattan Media and 32BJ SEIU, and appeared in a televised Public Service Announcement for the City of New York promoting recycling.
California’s Labor Market Information Division began studying the green economy in 2008. Policy makers and lay customers alike wanted to know “what is a green job?”, “how many of them are in the state (and/or my local area)”, and “what kind of training is required?” In order to understand the emerging green economy, we began to read and analyze the many relevant research papers and articles, and to connect with green businesses, university researchers, community colleges and other training providers, LMI staff in other states, and other stakeholders.
We could see that the only way to answer stakeholders’ questions about California’s green jobs was to conduct a survey. When we began this endeavor, there were no special funds for green research—we redirected staff towards this priority activity—create a definition our stakeholders agree to; develop a survey; select a statistically derived sample of over 50,000 California businesses, representing all industries, geographic areas and size classes; mail the survey; and continue to follow up with recipients until we had a sufficient number of responses. Then the data cleaning and analysis began!
We have finally posted our summary report on our Understanding the Green Economy web page, six months after our goal date of Earth Day 2010. (We began “leaking” findings then, but the “beg, borrow and steal” approach to staffing this project became a barrier to finalizing the report. Lesson learned…)
In summary, we found about 433,000 green jobs in California, representing about 3.4 percent of California’s employment. Just under eight percent of California businesses employ workers in green jobs. Almost two-thirds of California businesses have adopted sustainable business practices, creating a demand for more green businesses. Take a look at our report for more findings!
As I prepare to retire from State service at the end of
December, I am proud of the work our staff has done to rise to a new challenge,
and to demonstrate that LMI staff can be relevant and responsive to a demand
for new and emerging information. Even
more, I am proud of California for being a pioneer state in combating climate
change, and envision a better future for our children and grandchildren.
Best wishes, Bonnie
Editor’s Note: Nick Prigo is a Green Buildings Metrics Analyst for the 32BJ Thomas Shortman Training Fund in New York City, which received a $2.8million U.S. DOL Energy Training Partnership Grant to fund its program 1,000 Green Supers.
Buildings in the United States consume more energy (39%) and generate more greenhouse gas pollution (38%) than any other sector of the economy, including transportation or industry. In New York City this problem is especially pronounced, with buildings responsible for 66% of total energy use and 78% of city greenhouse gas emissions. (1)
The cheapest, fastest way to save energy is to improve the performance of existing buildings with more efficient heating, cooling, lighting, and better operations and maintenance. We have known for more than 25 years that better operations and maintenance alone can reduce a building’s energy use by as much as 10% per year. This seemingly small percentage adds up quickly. If all of NYC’s large apartment buildings achieved these savings, New Yorkers could save $230 million every year and reduce carbon pollution by the equivalent of taking 150,000 cars off the road. (2)
Superintendents are responsible for the operations and maintenance of New York City’s large residential buildings. They manage a building’s workforce, they interact with a building’s tenants, and they communicate with a building’s owners. Superintendents are the focal point through which all green elements must flow. Without a green super the efforts of owners, tenants, and the public to improve the efficiency of a building is limited.
There is only one way to capture the tremendous savings potential for green operations and maintenance – training. An entire industry needs to be upskilled to meet the needs of an energy efficient 21st century. Upskilling will convert the existing job of superintendent into a new green job – the green superintendent.
The labor union SEIU Local 32BJ represents about 5,000 superintendents – which covers about 80% of the large multifamily buildings in New York City. The 32BJ Thomas Shortman Training Fund (TSTF) provides free industry training to 32BJ members. This setup provides an unparalleled opportunity to upskill an entire industry all at once.
We at TSTF are fortunate recipients of Recovery Act funding from the USDOL. This funding allows us to provide green buildings training to 2,000 incumbent building service workers over two years and help shift an entire industry towards a green future. Our Green Supers program, is a cooperative effort between building owners, property managers, building service workers, and 32BJ. Participating firms send their supers to a rigorous 40-hour course that covers all aspects of green building operations and maintenance. It includes units on quantifying a building’s energy usage, optimizing heating, cooling, lighting and water use, sealing the building envelope, and using green cleaning products to improve indoor air quality. As of January, 2011, 800 building service workers have begun the training, and 550 of them have successfully received BPI certification.
The most innovative aspect of our training program is our broad framework of supportive activities. We had serious concerns that supers would attend our training program, learn lots of great information, and then fail to apply these new skills on the job when they returned to their buildings. That’s why we created the Green Coaching program. This follow-up service allows program alumni to have green building experts come out to their building and provide coaching on how to make the upgrades they want to make. Additional follow-up service include an online web community with blogger, a monthly newsletter sent to all program alumni, and one-on-one follow-up phone calls to all of our students letting them know about our follow-up services.
Positive reviews of our training have already led employers and employees in Westchester County, Northern New Jersey, and Philadelphia to express interest in joining. And we strongly believe that our Green Supers program can work as a template for future labor/management collaborations which aim to green the building service workforce of any major city. We hope that the example we set in New York City will inspire other municipalities, unions, and employer organizations to work together to help create the greener future we all need (and save some serious money in the process).
If you have any questions about our program feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the 32BJ Thomas Shortman Training Fund - TSTF offers free training to 85,000 members of SEIU Local 32BJ working in the property services industry. The Training Fund is a joint labor-management organization, cosponsored by SEIU Local 32BJ and the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations. Every year TSTF provides industry, academic, and computer courses to thousands of Local 32BJ building service workers at 40 locations in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and The District of Columbia.
United States Green Building Council. “Green Building Research”, 2008
The City of New York. “PlaNYC: Inventory of New York City Greenhouse Gas Emissions“, 2010
Synectics Group for U.S. Department of Energy, “An Evaluation of the Institutional Conservation Program”, 1983
New Yorkers spend $13.4 billion each year on energy for buildings (PlaNYC). Apartment buildings with 5 or more units account for 23% of this demand (NYSERDA), or $3.1 billion annually. Of this energy demand, large buildings with more than 30 units account for 75% or $2.3 billion annually. If better O&M reduced energy use 10% in these large apartment buildings, New Yorkers would save more than $230 million every year.
According to PlaNYC, New York emitted 61 MMT of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2007. We multiplied by .77 for the share of emissions attributed to buildings, and then by .23 for the share of total building energy use by apartment buildings, then by .75 for the share of energy used by apartment buildings larger than 30 units to conclude that New York’s apartment buildings generate 8.1 MMT of carbon emissions each year. If each apartment building achieved 10% energy savings, carbon emission would be reduced by 0.8 MMT per year city-wide. Since a single automobile generates about 5.4 metric tons of carbon per year, reducing emissions by 0.8 MMT is equivalent to taking 150,000 cars off the road.