Energy Efficiency Jobs Should More Than Double Last Year’s Growth in 2019
Energy efficiency – reducing your energy consumption and still obtaining the same result – is a simple concept. But its benefits are multi-faceted. Harnessing the same amount or squeezing even more productivity from the same energy input helps both businesses and individuals save money, reduce their carbon impact, and build a more robust economy.
And, energy efficiency jobs are booming. In fact, this sector of energy produced more new jobs in 2018 than any other sector – more than oil, nuclear, solar and natural gas. According to the 2019 Clean Jobs Report released by the non-partisan group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), there are now 2.32 million energy efficiency jobs in the United States. That’s a 3.4 percent increase over 2017.
But last year’s growth pales in comparison to what experts are predicting this year. By the end of 2019, energy efficiency jobs are expected to grow by 7.4 percent. If this happens, the U.S. would be adding more than 172k energy efficiency jobs this year alone, bumping the total up to about 2.5 million. To put this into perspective, Chicago, Illinois – our third most populated city in America – has a population of just under 2.7 million.
How Do Communities Benefit from EE Jobs?
But how do communities truly benefit from the creation of all these energy efficiency jobs? Consider this: an increase in local income for construction jobs and professional services (engineering, energy audits, consulting, etc.) supports the long-term growth of these industries. As homeowners start saving money on their utility bills, this frees up money that can be spent on more energy-efficient appliances like that state-of-the-art Energy Star washer and dryer your wife’s been eying for months. Businesses that start to see savings in the thousands, and eventually tens of thousands have the money to invest in their employees as well as other energy-saving tactics. They may buy their staff a bus pass and offer incentives for those who carpool. Maybe they upgrade to energy-efficient office equipment, or encourage employees to work from home on sweltering summer days.
The exchange between creating long-lasting jobs and invest locally helps entire communities save money while reducing their carbon emissions and contributing to a healthier society.
What Kind of Jobs Are Available in the Energy Efficiency Field?
From refrigerators to dishwashers, practically any appliance can be (and has been by now) engineered for improved performance and decreased energy consumption. Aside from appliances, there are countless ways to improve a building’s envelope to minimize energy use, such as:
- Better insulation for your attic and walls
- More efficient appliances to replace old HVAC systems, hot water heaters, etc.
- Properly sealed ductwork
- New windows and doors to replace old, drafty ones
- LED lighting to replace incandescent bulbs
- Strategic landscaping and green roofs to better insulate structures and keep them cool in warm months
- Programmable thermostats to make sure only the rooms in use are being heated or cooled as needed
With all of these energy efficiency upgrades, there are jobs that correspond to each. For example, you would hire an energy auditor to assess your home or commercial building and help identify areas for improvement. An insulation company would send a contractor to your home or business to install or repair any material to maintain the temperature in your pipes, ducts, walls and attics. This professional might coordinate with a mechanical contractor if you needed to replace any of your piping or repair your heating and cooling system. These contractors may work alone or have teams of laborers or other subcontractors to help them complete a job. For instance, energy efficiency upgrades may call on a range of subcontractors, from plumbers and carpenters to roofers and landscape designers.
Weatherization experts might work on sealing leaks in order to lower heating and cooling costs. LEED-certified consultants often develop cost-effective strategies to upgrade buildings for high performance. These professionals use tools and best practices to help clients identify ways to reduce initial and lifecycle energy costs and minimize energy waste.
Energy Star-certified appliance factories need a wide range of individuals to ensure the proper manufacturing and assembly of these energy-saving appliances. HVAC companies employ a range of experts – designers, engineers, consultants and installers – to create and implement efficient systems. These professionals work together to create and install energy efficiency systems for commercial buildings and home use.
How are the Energy Efficiency Jobs Trending?
So, where are the most energy efficiency jobs, and what can we expect for the future? The 2019 U.S. Energy & Employment Report (USEER) reveals that the demand for efficient technology and building upgrades has led to an expansion of traditional industries. Construction trades, for example, added over 20,800 jobs last year. Professional services, which encompasses occupations like energy auditors and green building consultants, added more than 34,600 jobs.
We already know that the energy efficiency sector is expected to grow a whopping 7.4 percent this year – but where will we see the most growth? According to the USEER report, construction employers say they are predicting an energy efficiency job growth rate of 8.8 percent by the end of this year.
The manufacturing of energy-efficiency products, such as Energy Star-certified appliances, accounted for a significant portion of employment in 2018 – nearly 14 percent of the total EE workforce. While this is only a 2 percent increase from the year prior (approx. 6,000 jobs), we can expect this sector to remain strong. About one in five energy efficiency employees worked in professional and business services. Of those about a third worked primarily with traditional HVAC goods.
As these statistics indicate, energy efficiency jobs have been trending upward in recent years. Experts predict this growth will continue over the next decade. Technology, in addition to increased demand, will expand current job markets and create entirely new ones. There’s no better time to get involved in the energy efficiency industry, and be a part of the market that drives solutions for our climate problems.