State and Local Climate and Energy Program
You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.
- What are Clean Energy Jobs?
- How Does a State Develop a Clean Energy Workforce?
- What Certifications are Used?
- What are States Doing?
What are Clean Energy Jobs?
Many organizations have offered different definitions of green jobs. The following definition is provided by The White House's Middle Class Task Force:
“Green jobs are jobs that provide products and services which use renewable energy resources, reduce pollution, conserve energy and natural resources, and reconstitute waste.”
In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their definition of green jobs, stating that green jobs are either: jobs in businesses that produce goods or services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources, or jobs in which worker's duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.
Clean energy jobs are a subset of green jobs—those related to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean combined heat and power (CHP). Examples of clean energy jobs can include:
- Energy auditors
- Insulation and weatherization technicians
- HVAC technicians and installers
- Wind energy technicians
- Solar photovoltaics or solar water heating installers
- Manufacturers, distributors, and salespeople of energy efficient products
- Low carbon (or clean energy) transportation planners, manufacturers, refiners, or technicians
- Research and development staff
- State energy and/or environment office staff
State Green Jobs Analyses:
How Does a State Develop a Clean Energy Workforce?
The aim of developing a clean energy workforce is for the demand for open jobs to match the supply of qualified workers. Basic guidelines for developing an effective clean energy workforce include the following:
- Promote clean energy policies, which are needed to develop and expand the market for services and businesses, and therefore jobs.
- Energy efficiency policies and programs, such as energy savings goals, lead by example measures, and weatherization programs can spur the market for clean energy businesses.
- Renewable energy policies, such as renewable portfolio standards, green power purchasing targets, and on-site generation incentives (e.g., solar photovoltaics) can spur the market for clean energy businesses.
- Consider strategies to develop and/or strengthen in-state green businesses that can fulfill these policies. Examples include creating clean-tech clusters and implementing revolving loans for the retooling of manufacturing facilities.
- Identify current and future projections of business and labor market needs in the target market(s) to determine gaps.
- Facilitate partnerships between workforce development stakeholders.
- Leverage potential partners that already exist, such as state departments of labor and other state agencies, industry associations, workforce investment boards, career centers, chambers of commerce, local unions, and related NGOs.
- Create sector-based collaboratives to identify what efforts are needed in a specific target sector to train workers.
What Certifications are Used?
Although no national certification standard exists, the following certifications are currently used by many states:
- Building Performance Institute (BPI) certifies weatherization auditors, energy efficiency installation personnel, and other professionals in the residential and multifamily building performance contracting industry.
- Institute for Sustainable Power Quality (ISPQ) offers accreditation for renewable energy training providers. Providers that receive ISPQ accreditation have undergone a rigorous application and audit process, and their course content follows an industry task analysis.
- North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) offers national certification programs for solar electric and solar thermal installers.
- Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET®) certifies home energy raters that evaluate buildings based on a relative energy use index called the HERS® Index.
What are States Doing?
- Workforce Development Programs and Legislation (2009) (9 pp, 62K)
- The Pennsylvania Center for Green Careers identifies green occupations which are most in need and provides training to fill those positions. To clarify the needs and challenges for the state's green workforce, the PCGC surveyed employers, and formed Regional Green Teams to assess regional workforce needs.
Common strategies for developing clean energy workforce development programs include:
- Evaluating the current clean energy workforce in a state and conducting gap analyses to identify training program and industry needs.
- Establishing dedicated “green collar” funds to finance worker training programs (e.g., legislatively, through system benefits charges, with Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative auction funds).
- Working with established universities, community colleges, and vocational/technical high schools to integrate clean energy workforce training into existing curricula and programs.
- Tailoring programs for low–income workers (e.g., Pathways out of Poverty).
Unique approaches to clean energy workforce development include:
- Awarding additional renewable energy certificates (RECs) to utilities with an apprenticeship program (e.g., Washington )
- Authorizing community colleges to issue bonds on behalf of businesses that create green jobs-with the money used to support training for new jobs and related program administrative expenses(e.g., Iowa New Jobs Training Program)
- Developing regional workforce response teams that can cater to unique conditions and energy opportunities within regions of a state e.g., Oregon Workforce Response Teams )
- Combining multiple state departments that influence job creation to align all activities related to energy efficiency and renewable energy with the state's workforce efforts (e.g., Michigan ).
- Creating an in-state resource center to focus on training trainers, developing curricula, identifying career pathways, and conducting regional labor market studies (e.g., Louisiana ).
State Technical Forum
- Presentations and Papers on Clean Energy Workforce Development
Clean Energy Workforce Conference
The annual Clean Energy Workforce Education Conference covers market trends, economic drivers, instructional strategies, curricula development, and best practices for training.
Community Colleges and the Green Workforce
Going Green: The Vital Role of Community Colleges in Building a Sustainable Future and Green Workforce examines the growing role of community colleges in the clean energy economy. The report provides examples of innovative strategies used by community colleges, information on the fastest growing sectors in the green economy, and additional resources.
Green Workforce Strategies
- Greener Pathways: Jobs and Workforce Development in the Clean Energy Economy (PDF) (64 pp, 12M) provides an overview of workforce development strategies for the energy efficiency, wind, and biofuel industries.
- Green-Collar Jobs in America’s Cities: Building Pathways out of Poverty and Careers in the Clean Energy Economy (PDF) (64 pp, 3.3M) provides an overview of the steps necessary to ensure a successful green workforce program for low-income communities.
Occupational Competency Models
A competency model is useful to organize the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform in a particular occupation or industry. Competency models form the foundation for developing curriculum and selecting training materials, and for licensure and certification requirements, job descriptions, recruiting and hiring, and performance reviews.
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC)
SOC is used by federal and state agencies to classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data.
U.S. Department of Labor Resources
- The Green Jobs Community of Practice (CoP) is an interactive platform for providing technical assistance through webinars, discussion boards, blogs and other online resources to workforce professionals, particularly those at the State and Workforce Investment Board levels as well as green jobs grantees. Sponsored by the Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
- Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) brings together state, local and federal entities; academic institutions; investment groups; foundations; and business and industry to address the challenges associated with building a globally competitive and prepared workforce.
- DOL's Women's Bureau is collaborating with employers, unions, education and training providers, green industry organizations, and other government agencies to raise awareness, expand training options, and promote the recruitment and retention of women in green career pathways.
- Industry and Labor Market Statistics
- Industry/Employers Workforce Home Page
- National Registered Apprenticeship Program
- Workforce Professionals Home Page
- State and Local Resources
Energy Efficiency Services Sector: Workforce Education and Training Needs
In 2010, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) issued a study, Energy Efficiency Services Sector: Workforce Education and Training Needs (PDF) (71 pp, 768K), which describes the current state of education and training programs to support the energy efficiency services workforce in the United States. The report also analyzes training and education needs to support expected growth in the energy efficiency services workforce.
Recovery through Retrofit
In 2009, the Vice President's Middle Class Task Force asked the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to develop a proposal for federal action that builds on the foundation laid in the Recovery Act to expand green job opportunities and boost energy savings by making homes more energy efficient. CEQ has been facilitating a broad interagency process with the Office of the Vice President, 11 Departments and Agencies and six White House Offices to develop recommendations. These recommendations are described in the Recovery Through Retrofit Report, along with an Implementation Plan.
Weatherization Assistance Program Technical Assistance Center Training Resources
The Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program has documented core competencies for weatherization workers in various job positions and has developed standardized curricula that can be used by training facilities across the country. DOE also tracks training opportunities for weatherization.
Training Guide for Home Performance Professionals
Home Energy magazine publishes an annual guide (PDF) (7 pp, 1.68M) to training opportunities for job skills needed for work in weatherization, home performance contracting, home energy rating, national and local green building programs, and other related programs. Updated versions are available to subscribers.
Renewable Energy Training Best Practices
The Renewable Energy Training Best Practices report (PDF) (25 pp, 284K) by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council recommends training guidelines, training criteria, assessment tools, task analyses, credentialing programs, and other resources for renewable energy training programs.
Renewable Energy Training Catalog
The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) tracks certified renewable energy training providers in its Renewable Energy Training Catalog . IREC also tracks information about four–year universities that are offering undergraduate and graduate courses in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Courses can be searched by state, technology or both.
Solar Instructor Training Network
The Solar Instructor Training Network was launched in October 2009 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to address a critical need for high-quality, local, and accessible training in solar system design, installation, sales, and inspection. The network is a five-year effort intended to create a geographic blanket of training opportunities in solar installation across the United States.