photo via SOS Ministries
Recently, friends and new college graduates have been asking me how they can get into the field of sustainability. When the question has arisen, I have found myself wondering where the green jobs are sprouting. Then, yesterday, I came across a post in Mother Nature Network listing the top 10 cities for green jobs. California led the pack with three of its cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento in the top 10. Green jobs increased in California by 36% between 1995 and 2008, compared with an overall job growth of only 13%. The top five from their list follows: 1. San Francisco is the number one city with more than 42,000 green jobs. As the San Francisco Chronicle's blog points out, for a city with a population of 809,000, that's a pretty impressive number. A sixth of the city's green-collar jobs are in the energy generation sector, with most of these in the solar industry. The city recently passed $100 million worth of bonds to create sustainable jobs and businesses. In addition to solar jobs, San Francisco is also filled with environmental consulting, green tech, and greenhouse gas emission monitoring jobs. MNN invited green architects in search of work to move to the city by the Bay, noting that 20 big construction projects have recently applied for LEED certification here.
2. Denver came in at number two, which wasn't surprising given that it is home to Vestas Wind Systems and other solar firms and clean tech companies. Government institutions, such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which is based in Denver, have produced green opportunities. During the Obama administration, NREL funding has almost doubled.
3. NYC was ranked third among the top U.S. metro areas for job creation, according to Clean Edge, a clean energy research firm. Also, many of PlaNYC's 127 initiatives are expected to create green jobs, especially because of the $1 billion for building retrofits to increase energy efficiency and because of the plan's target to reduce greenhouse gases by 30%. NYC also hosted a Green Collar Jobs Planning Commission and benefits from active organizations such as Sustainable South Bronx that provide green collar job training.
4. Portland created close to 20,000 clean-energy jobs in 2007. More than 1% of Oregon's 1.9 million jobs are related to the clean energy economy, the highest percentage in the U.S. Oregon ranked 3rd for producing sustainable manufacturing jobs.
5. In Los Angeles, energy generation jobs recently increased by 35% and energy efficiency jobs by 77%. Much of the green-collar job growth in L.A. is due to the 2009 Green Building Retrofit Ordinance, which required that all city-owned buildings greater than 7,500 square feet or built before 1978 be retrofitted to LEED silver certification standards. The ordinance also created a green jobs training program to help combat unemployment.
San Francisco, NYC, and Portland were also on The Daily Green's List of 5 Best Cities to Land a Green Job. The Daily Green also included Boston, which isn't surprising given that the Boston area was recently ranked fourth in a Clean Edge survey of the top U.S. metro areas for clean-tech job creation. Boston also benefits from its many renowned colleges including MIT, Harvard, and Boston University.
The more surprising choice that made both the Daily Green's and MNNs list was the City of Detroit since it currently has an unemployment rate of about 14%. However, Detroit has been the recipient of of U.S. Department of Energy grants that are creating jobs by funding hybrid and electric vehicle manufacturing.
Other cities which have been recommended to me but didn't make either list are: Washington D.C., Seattle, Chicago, San Diego and Austin. What is exciting about all of these cities is that the green job potential is growing not solely in the domain of cities along the coasts but also in the Midwest and Southwest.
At TreeHugger there have been quite a few best/top of lists, and many of these cities have made other lists. There have been lists for best cities to be in for earth day, greenest cities in America, and cities with the most energy star rated commercial buildings.
More on Green Jobs
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Is Creating Green Jobs a "Sensible Aspiration" for Governments?
How to Get Green Jobs and Beat the Recession Blues
Top 5 Cities for Clean Energy Jobs