What’s the biggest part of the U.S. energy sector?
If you said solar or wind, that wouldn’t be a bad guess, since the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that solar installers and wind turbine technicians will be the two fastest-growing occupations between now and 2028.
If you said oil, gas or coal, you’d be dead wrong.
Fact is, the biggest part of the energy industry is the business of energy efficiency. And with better policies at the federal and state levels, this huge and growing part of our economy could grow even faster.
More than 2.3 million Americans now work in energy efficiency jobs, up 3.4 percent from a year earlier, according to a just-released report from E2 and our partner E4TheFuture. That’s more people than work in any other part of the energy sector.
For perspective, more people now work in energy efficiency than work as waiters or waitresses in our country. It’s more workers than there are lawyers, judges or other legal professionals. And its twice as many Americans as work in the entire fossil fuel industry. Yep, you read that right.
Energy efficiency businesses also added more jobs than any other part of the energy sector last year, creating about 76,000 jobs — more than half of the sector’s entire job growth in 2018.
So what do all these workers do?
They work in manufacturing, building Energy Star appliances and low-voltage LED lighting systems. They work in construction, installing new Low-E windows and insulation and better building envelopes that reduce wasted electricity and gas in our homes, offices and schools. And they work at heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) companies, replacing outdated boilers and leaky ductwork with more efficient products.
They’re people like Malcolm Miller, whose Detroit-based company Walker-Miller Energy Services conducts energy audits and provides solutions for businesses and consumers to reduce wasted energy. They’re folks like Elena Chrimat, who co-found Phoenix-area HVAC and energy efficiency company Ideal Energy because she wanted to have a positive impact on people’s lives and on the environment. And they’re veterans like Chris Rawlings, a former Marine Corps sergeant and Iraqi war veteran who later went on to start Veteran LED in Richmond, VA, which designs and installs high-efficiency lighting systems.
Rawlings is one of more than 235,000 veterans who work in energy efficiency, making energy efficiency the largest employer of vets in the entire energy sector, according to our new report.
Some other findings:
- Energy efficiency knows no boundaries. About 928,000 energy efficiency workers live in the nation’s 25 biggest metro areas — but another 1 million+ are outside of America’s Top 50 metro areas, and about 318,000 work in rural areas.
- Small businesses are the backbone of the industry. Of the 361,300 energy efficiency businesses in America, about 80 percent employ fewer than 20 workers, and almost half have fewer than five employees.
- Not surprisingly, giant states like California, Texas and New York have the most energy efficiency workers. But smaller states such as Massachusetts, a longtime leader in smart energy efficiency policies, also are in the Top 10 for employment. New Jersey, Colorado, Oklahoma and Nevada led the country in job growth last year.
You can go here for detailed energy efficiency jobs data for every state — right down to the city, county, congressional and legislative district level.
In reality, energy efficiency should be booming in every state in America. Buildings are some of biggest sources of carbon pollution. With better energy efficiency policies, we can combat climate change while simultaneously saving money and creating jobs.
At the federal level, we need Congress to stop President Trump’s attempts to gut the Energy Star program; roll back commonsense energy efficiency lightbulb standards and continually delay efficiency updates for other products. Congress also needs to update the 179D and 25C building efficiency tax credits and make sure state energy and weatherization assistance programs are properly funded.
At the state level, lawmakers should pass or update their energy efficiency building and appliance standards. They can broaden the use of performance contracting in public buildings; promote commercial and residential PACE programs to help consumers and businesses pay for energy efficiency upgrades and make sure utilities are making the right energy efficiency investments.
There’s no consumer or business in America that doesn’t want to save money on every month’s power bill. There’s no politician who doesn’t want to create more jobs. And there’s no time left to delay doing anything and everything we can to reduce carbon pollution.
Energy efficiency does all of that and more. And with better policies, we can keep the industry — and its jobs — growing.
Biggest (And Quietest) Part of U.S. Energy Sector Continues To Grow In Leaps and Bounds was originally published in e2org on Medium.