Sunday, November 25, 2007

Green Collar Worker

I was intrigued by a comment on the The Green Talent War a few days ago. The phrase "green collar jobs" has been bantered about by local and national politicians for the last year. What does it mean? I've heard a couple of definitions:

  1. Green collar jobs are effectively local jobs, focused on keeping dollars spent within smaller regional communities to boost local growth and minimize the environmental impact
  2. Green collar jobs are tied to renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors

According to Tom Paine, "Green jobs are jobs in the booming clean and green economy. The LOHAS Journal ("Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability") estimates green enterprise as a $229 billion market sector. reports clean/green technology as the third largest venture capital investment category in 2006."

From IT Week out of the UK: "As much as a quarter of the US workforce could have a green job by 2030 if a new report released this week by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is to be believed. The report from energy economist Roger Bezdek predicts that with government incentives and investment in R&D, the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries could be worth $4.5tr by 2030, creating 40 million jobs across engineering, manufacturing, construction, accounting and management."

Check out this short video from CNBC.

What does all this mean for those of us designing and managing buildings for the Green Collar Workforce of the future? How will their changing business model change their workplace?

A solar company will operate differently, hire different skill sets and probably attract a very different kind of worker than an oil company of today. Will the "local" and "green" emphasis of these new companies also alter attitudes towards travel, commuting, using technology and work-life balance? If the core mission of a renewable energy company is about using energy more efficiently and managing resources at a whole new level, will we spend our time designing new buildings, or rather, using our existing buildings more wisely? Could the "new shiny headquarters" be a thing of the past?

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