Want to summarize the case for green jobs in one word? How about “Solyndra?” The fledgling solar company took $535 million of government loan guarantees (read “taxpayers’ money”) down with it when it went bankrupt last year. Even if the government thinks green jobs are a nifty idea, the market doesn’t… right?
We get a little more fashionable than usual in this week’s green tech finds: from Linda Loudermilk’s compostable bikini, to a cutting-edge design for an RV (really!), to air-purifying clothing.
The film set trailer goes green: King Kong Production claims its Helios Solar Hybrid Production Trailer can run a full day on the built-in solar and biodiesel generators. So, no fossil emissions from a pampered celeb who’s late to set.
A couple of weeks ago, I looked at New York City’s efforts to provide disadvantaged youth with green job skills through its MillionTreesNYC initiative. On the other side of the country, a non-profit organization is also helping young people develop the skills they’ll need to take advantage of green job opportunities… by sending them out into their neighborhoods to help residents save energy, water, and money.
Green jobs involve installing solar panels, maintaining wind turbines, and weatherizing houses… right? Yes… and no. The technical aspect of renewable energy and efficiency have received the most attention as both the public and private sectors move towards a lower-carbon economy… but that doesn’t mean the job prospects are limited to the techies, engineers, and mechanically inclined. As more locales recognize the natural services provided by urban plants and forests, those skilled in tree care, landscaping, and natural systems maintenance will find demand for their abilities.
Tried arguing climate change science with someone who doesn’t buy it? Yeah, it’s tough… and getting tougher. Even as the science itself becomes more clear, fewer people are concerned about global warming and its effects. It’s enough to make a good greenie bang his/her head against the wall, or just move to a cave.
Or… we could just stop arguing about it.
Here in the US, community colleges are often at the forefront of training for emerging career fields… and we’ve seen that happening with various forms of green technology. That happens on a system-by-system basis here; in the UK, however, they’re taking green job training nationwide with the launch of the new National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies.
Green tech spanning the globe, from Ohio to New York City to Algeria… your finds for the week.
What’s up with switchgrass: Remember all the discussion about biofuels produced from switchgrass? The talk’s died down, but the experimentation hasn’t… but there are still some arguments out there about the efficiency of this feedstock.
Ohio’s green economy: Ohio? Really? While it’s still small and growing, this Rust Belt state made the most of the manufacturing infrastructure already in place to create green jobs. (via Calfinder’s Residential Solar blog)
Unemployment’s still high, jobs are scarce, and companies are holding on to their cash… that’s the narrative we’re hearing constantly. Don’t tell that to the folks at Shenandoah Growers in Harrisonburg, Virginia, though. A major supplier of organically-grown herbs to East Coast retailers, the company just opened a $3 million greenhouse for year-round production of “USDA-certified organic basil, thyme, sage, rosemary and other herbs.”
San Quentin probably brings to mind Johnny Cash’s legendary performance at the prison… or perhaps a particularly creepy episode of Lockdown. But green jobs? Yep… on Saturday, the Insight Garden Program (which attempts to rehabilitate prisoners through organic gardening) and the California Reentry Program hosted a green careers fair at the prison.
A zero-emissions race around the world, whiskey biofuel, and more… your green tech finds for the week.
Energy efficient motors mean green jobs in Arkansas: Electrocraft, Inc. has announced it will start producing energy efficient electric motors for heating and air conditioning units in its Searcy, Arkansas plant. This means 55 new green jobs for the small town.
Cell phone tech meets data centers: Data centers (aka server farms) suck up a lot of energy. Start-up Smooth-Stone thinks it can cut that power use by applying “low-power cell phone technology to servers…” A number of VCs think they can do it, and have provided $48 million in funding.
Green jobs training programs are popping up all over the country. Often funded by grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (i.e., the stimulus bill), these programs generally aim to retrain displaced workers in skills such as building efficiency and renewable energy installation and maintenance. Recent numbers tend to bear out the potential for job growth in green industries: wind power, for instance, grew by 39% in 2009.
Most of the discussions you’ve heard about green jobs likely focus on blue-collar positions: just think about how many times the phrase “green collar jobs” is followed by “installing solar panels” and “weatherizing houses.” These are important discussions, no doubt, and organizations like the Apollo Alliance and Green for All deserve credit for bringing these opportunities into the debate over economic recovery.
But what if you’re an engineer, a marketing manager, or an administrative assistant?
Solar panels are certainly sexier than insulation, and new LEED-certified buildings look better on the front page than aging houses. Are aesthetics the main reason that newer technologies and practices get all the attention, while retrofits and efficiency upgrades are relegated to the sidelines of most conversations about a clean energy future?
The House’s passage of Waxman-Markey (aka the American Clean Energy and Security Act) isn’t just a step forward in moving the United States away from addiction to fossil fuels, and towards a cleaner energy economy; it’s also evidence that President Barack Obama plans to fight for many of the campaign promises he made on energy and the environment. Candidate Obama laid out a very ambitious and comprehensive approach to energy policy, recognizing that it’s intimately tied to environmental concerns and economic growth and development.
It’s Friday… time for your round-up of interesting and innovative green tech stories.
Sony Ericsson announces the release of two new “Greenheart” mobile phones. The company claims both models have a 15% lower carbon footprint than comparable models, and feature a minimum of 50% recycled plastic. (via eWeek)
Ever had your hat blown off in an urban “wind tunnel?” Ohio-based start-up Green Energy Technologies is trying to replicate the effect of wind tunnels, and harness the energy, with its WindCube wind speed amplifier. (via earth2tech)
Check out more green tech finds and see if you can greenify your life!