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Jobs on the green horizon

 Posted by on March 3, 2009
Mar 032009

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

What do you picture when you think of “green jobs”? Chances are you envision a guy strapped to a wind tower, or maybe someone tinkering with a solar panel.

Those are green jobs. But there are dozens more — at organic family farms, home building supply operations, big blue chip companies, inside power plants, at universities and government agencies, and yes, even at petroleum companies (what you thought they’d miss out on the opportunity?).

Green sustainable jobs are weaving their way through the economy, with traditional companies re-examining outdated practices and assessing the life cycle impact of their products and new green energy companies gearing up to change transform how we power our homes and cars.

Leaving aside the economists’ debate over how robust these enterprises might be in a stronger economy, it’s clear that these jobs are continuing to appear and reconfigure themselves on the green landscape. It’s just a little difficult to step back and take in the big picture.

The Environmental Defense Fund is trying. It has profiled a list of companies engaged in and driving the green movement. Some of the companies are growing new concerns on the verge of becoming household names, like Gamesa, the Spanish wind turbine maker with a factory outside Philadelphia, and First Solar, a photovoltaic manufacturer in Perrysburg, Ohio, near Toledo. Others, like LED manufacturer, Cree Inc., in Durham, N.C., have been around for decades but find their futures suddenly brightened by the interest in energy efficiency.

(Some of the companies are more green than others; Owen Corning’s listing points out that it uses a lot of recycled glass, but many would argue that its fiberglass insulation cannot compete with new, greener choices. Still, the venerable U.S. firm has other offerings aimed at new tech solutions and home energy efficiency. And heck, it’s in Toledo.)

EDF has posted this list focused on the Midwest (the project will ultimately cover the nation),  to help the public see and understand what’s happening on the green front, and to signal lawmakers that supporting a green economy is not a hypothetical proposition. With all the incessant yammering about unemployment these days, it’s nice to see that green jobs are not a mirage, not someone’s wishful thinking. They are real.

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