When President Obama put the seal of doom on a construction permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, supporters of his decision were quick to point out that the pipeline will not create a significant number of permanent jobs, and that the President already has initiatives in place that create far more green jobs in the alternative energy sector. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. New green technologies that have been in development for the past few years are beginning to hit the market, particularly in the building industry, which means that more individual property owners have the opportunity to chip in their own efforts for green job creation.
Solar Power from Solar Shingles
One consumer technology that CleanTechnica has been following for a while is a rooftop solar product from Dow Solar (a Dow company), called Dow Powerhouse Solar Shingles. Dow announced that it was developing a thin-film solar technology integrated right into the roofing material back in 2009, predicting a mass market product by 2011. They weren’t far off the mark. In the summer of 2011 Dow started building a new solar shingle factory in Michigan, and it announced plans to start marketing the product in Colorado. In its latest announcement, the company has selected the first three dealers in Colorado authorized to sell the solar shingles.
Innovation and Green Jobs
Aside from creating new opportunities for property owners to participate in the green revolution, companies like Dow are also investing in the intellectual growth of U.S. innovators, through government and academic partnerships. Dow is an important partner in the “cool roofs” component of U.S. Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative, which is aimed at bringing the cost of solar power down to parity with fossil fuels. Dow was also a primary sponsor of DOE’s 2011 Solar Decathalon – a competition to promote energy efficiency and innovation in the building industry – and supported two of the 19 college teams that participated.
The Obama Administration and Green Jobs
White House blogger Heather Zichal mapped out the big picture in a post related to the Keystone announcement, noting that the number of jobs created by Keystone has already been dwarfed by the 60,000 jobs (or more) set to be created by 40 clean energy projects supported through federal loan guarantees, along with job creation potential related to EPA’s new standards for mercury and air toxics.
Green Jobs and Stronger Communities
One of the Dow-supported projects in the Solar Decathlon was called the Empowerhouse Project, which Dow describes as a home that “embodies the vision of Habitat for Humanity — that all people deserve safe, comfortable, affordable homes.” That, in a nutshell, expresses the full potential of sustainable job creation. In contrast to the path we’ve trodden since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, in which job creation is almost necessarily involved with increased pollution, we’re looking at the potential for creating new jobs that help to build stronger, healthier communities.
Follow Tina Casey on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.