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Green Jobs in Your Community

Picture of a green roof with the City of Philadelphia skyline in the background.  Green Jobs is written at the top of the image.This green roof in Philadelphia, Pennsylania is an example of a green job opportunity in your community.You may need a PDF reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.

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Green infrastructure is often perceived as costly and "job-killing", but the case for its cost effectiveness, multiple community benefits, and job creation potential is not mere wishful thinking.  Across the nation, communities are proving that green infrastructure is:

  • Cost effective for improving water quality
  • Making communities healthier, safer, and more livable
  • Spurring economic development

From design and installation to ongoing maintenance, there is growing support for green infrastructure.  It is creating new opportunities within existing sectors like landscape design, paving, and construction, in addition to providing opportunities for the growth of newly emerging industries.  (Source: StormwaterPA Exit)

As interest in green infrastructure becomes more widespread, the demand for related job skills continues to rise. These skills are required not only for the initial design and installation of green infrastructure practices, but for long­term operation and maintenance as well.  A May 2014 article published in the Bay Journal - Green infrastructure jobs outpacing pool of skilled workers Exit - highlights the variety of jobs created by green infrastructure projects and the need for green infrastructure training and certification programs.   

Waterworks: Rebuilding Infrastructure Creating Jobs Greening the Environment (PDF)(62 pp, 17 MB, About PDFExit estimates that an investment of $188.4 billion in green infrastructure spread equally over the next five years would generate $265.6 billion in economic activity and create close to 1.9 million jobs.  As the market for green jobs increases, it's important to know about the types of green jobs that are available, the benefits hiring trained professionals can have on a business and a community, and the training and growth opportunities that are available to interested parties.  

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Green Jobs Research

The United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) received funding in Fiscal Year 2010 to develop and implement the collection of new data on green jobs.  The BLS defines "green jobs" as either:

  • Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources
  • Jobs in which workers' duties involve making their establishment's production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources

The goal of the BLS green jobs initiative is to develop information on:

  • the number of and trend over time in green jobs;
  • the industrial, occupational, and geographic distribution of the jobs; and,
  • the wages of the workers in these jobs.

For more information, please visit the BLS Green Jobs webpage

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Benefits for Businesses

The Natural Resources Defense Council's The Green Edge: How Commercial Property Investment in Green Infrastructure Creates Value (PDF)(42 pp, 8 MB) Exit discusses the multiple benefits of green infrastructure for private and commercial property owners including:

  • Higher commercial rental rates
    • landscaping can add approximately 7 percent to the average rental rate for office buildings
  • Higher retail sales
    • research on urban business districts and strip malls has found that consumers are willing to spend more on products, visit more frequently, or travel farther to shop in areas with attractive landscaping, good tree cover, or green streets. 
    • in areas with a mature tree canopy, customers indicate that they are willing to pay 8 to 12 percent more. 
  • Higher property values
    • landscaping and trees can increase residential property values by 2 to 5 percent.
    • green roofs have been found to add 16 percent to the average rental rate for multifamily units Lower energy costs and water bills
  • Cash back: tax credits, stormwater fee credits, and development incentives
  • Reduced flood damage
    • reducing the volume of stormwater runoff can provide a cost-effective way to manage the frequency and severity of localized urban flooding
  • Reduced infrastructure costs
    • parking lots constructed with permeable pavement may carry higher initial capital costs, but have significantly lower maintenance costs compared with asphalt, resulting in lower overall life-cycle costs.
    • a 57-year life cycle cost analysis has shown that using a permeable paver system instead of traditional concrete pavement has higher up-front costs, but the permable pavement systems begin to show cost savings by year 15, with cumulative savings over the 57-year analysis period of close to $2.5 million 
    • integrating green infrastructure into the site design can result in net cost savings by decreasing the amount of required below-ground drainage infrastructure and other stormwater managementrelated facilities
  • Improved health, job satisfaction, and productivity of office employees
    • Research shows that office workers have a clear preference for nature near the workplace, leading to improved health and job satisfaction, and reduced levels of stress
  • Reduced crime rate
    • numerous studies have found significantly lower rates of property crime, violent crime, graffiti, vandalism, and littering in urban areas with high levels of vegetation, when controlling for other factors

(Source: Natural Resource Defense Council's The Green Edge) Exit

By investing in the local economy, businesses will see an increase in the long-term cost benefits of green infrastructure.  Many green infrastructure practices, such as rain gardens and green roofs, are visible amenities as well as stormwater management practices. This dual purpose makes them more likely to receive regular maintenance and inspection, increasing the number of permanent, long-term jobs — not just one-time construction assignments. (Source: Linking Green Infrastructure Maintenance and Jobs from Water Enivronment Foundation StormwateReport Exit

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Training and Education Opportunities 

Green infrastructure job training programs are necessary to satisfy the growing demand for green infrastructure technologies. Specialized skills are required not just for the initial design and installation of practices such as bioretention and permeable pavements, but also for long-term operation and maintenance. EPA’s Green Infrastructure Wet Weather initiative identified a small handful of certification and training programs for these newer technologies (e.g., permeable concrete; green roofs), but the demand for skilled designers and installers currently seems to outweigh the supply in many regions of the country.

The demand for skilled designers and installers continues to outpace the supply in many regions of the country. EPA and other green infrastructure practioners are working to:

  • identify the knowledge and skill sets needed;
  • develop capacity for particular technological skills; and
  • encourage and facilitate new training and certification programs related to the design, construction, operation and maintenance of green infrastructure.  

To learn more, please explore EPA's guidebook Green Jobs Training: A Catalog of Training Opportunities for Green Infrastructure Technologies (PDF)(52 pp, 1 MB) Exit.

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Green Job Resources

For additional career and training resources, please visit the G3 Guides and Publications page.