In 2021, clean energy jobs rebounded and recovered more than half of the jobs lost in 2020. In fact, clean energy jobs are expected to recover at faster rate compared to the overall job market. Colorado saw similar trends and saw a return of the majority of the 58,000 jobs lost in 2020.
While the pandemic affected the number of clean energy and green jobs overall, today, we are seeing green jobs play a large role in driving the country’s economic recovery, especially as more organizations see the value of building stronger, more resilient communities. Companies also see the value of going green and are making greater efforts to reduce carbon footprints. In the public sector, federal, state and local governments are enacting policies to address the climate crisis, and funds from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act are expected to realize a number of sustainable infrastructure projects.
For example, Colorado recently passed new building efficiency standards aimed making building more energy efficient and reduce its carbon emissions. The new standards also means that more green building professionals will be needed to ensure that the private sector is complying with the new codes.
This big shift to “go green” means that we will need a larger trained workforce to address our growing sustainability challenges. From engineers to consultants to construction workers, these professions will be key as states push for greener standards. However, this growth comes with challenges.
While we expect to see an increase in green jobs, there is still a skills gap that will prevent these jobs from being filled. A recent LinkedIn report noted that while there was an increase in the number of green professionals, going from 9.6% in 2015 to 13.3% in 2021, the growth is not enough to keep up with demand. This means that preparing the next generation of green workers will be crucial to ensure that we meet our climate goals, and that our workforce meets the labor needs.
Buildings are an important part in solving the climate puzzle, and the built environment will also need more professionals as more states and localities push for decarbonization and electrification of buildings. To support market demand, the U.S. Green Building Council provides opportunities for professionals in the built environment to boost their fundamental knowledge of green building concepts, including transportation, energy, water and air quality through accreditation. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is way to stay up-to-date on the latest green building trends and innovations.
The most recent World Green Building Trends report noted an expected growth in the green building sector which translates to a greater need for green building experts and professionals. Currently, there are 200,000 LEED Accredited Professionals around the world who have advanced their careers and provide proficiency in today’s sustainable design, construction and operation standards. The same report cited that a need for more expertise in green buildings to be able to drive greater adoption of sustainable buildings.
We are at a pivotal moment in our fight against climate change and mitigating the effects of global warming and that means that training our workforce. It’s no longer about the jobs of tomorrow; it’s about helping professionals meet the current challenges to create a more sustainable future.
Deisy Verdinez is USGBC’s PR and communications director.