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Defining Green Jobs

by Valerie Brooke and Cameron Carter (Editors)

Available formats:    PDF

Today the term Green Jobs has moved away from such old notions as careers associated with gardeners, groundskeepers, landscapers, and/or horticulturists. We now think about Green Jobs in terms of environmentally-green employment sectors.

These sectors might include but are not limited to work activities in the area of:

1. Alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles,
2. Energy efficiency, including green building and sustainable design,
3. Environmental protection and preservation, including conservation,
4. Organic and recycled products,
5. Renewable energy, including solar, wind and geothermal,
6. Sustainable and organic agriculture, and
7. Sustainable business practices, including cleantech (Cassio, 2009).

Attempts to define green jobs have favored a limited view. For many nationally recognized experts they see green jobs defined as jobs in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. While these sectors are critical to the green economy Cassio (2009) reminds us that they represent a small portion of a much larger picture.

In early 2009, the White House Task Force on the Middle Class came out with a report on green jobs that included a more inclusive working definition:

Green jobs provide products and services which use renewable energy resources, reduce pollution, conserve energy and natural resources, and reconstitute waste.

Key Concept in Green Jobs is the Idea of Sustainability

Sustainability is the capacity to endure. That includes biological systems that must remain diverse and productive over time. For humans, sustainability means long-term survival and wellbeing, which in turn depends on the well-being of the natural world and the responsible use of our natural resources. The original definition is sustainability, now 25 years old is still relevant today:

Meeting our needs while not com-promising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. -- United Nations World Commission on Environment
and Development (Brundtland Commission)

Where Should HVRPs Begin the Job Search for Green Jobs?

With the notion of sustainability taking root across the board, green jobs are found in virtually all industries - although not necessarily in large numbers. Some of those green jobs reflect new and emerging occupations, changing occupations, and others reflect traditional occupations where the work hasn’t changed much in the last decade (The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2009).

To View a full list of Green Job opportunities in the industry, nonprofit, and public/governmental sectors, download the factsheet PDF.