Published on October 15th, 2018 | by Carolyn Fortuna0
Faces Of Energy Efficiency: Celebrating Workforce Stability + Growth
October 15th, 2018 by Carolyn Fortuna
In October, 2018, a large network of advocates, companies, government agencies, utilities, and others showcased the benefits and faces of energy efficiency (EE) during the 3rd annual Energy Efficiency Day. More than 200 organizations signed up as public supporters, and 21 state and local proclamations recognized the day and value of energy efficiency. This day of action occurred following the release of a recent report by E4TheFuture and E2 which found that energy efficiency employs 2.25 million Americans – more than all fossil fuel industries combined.
E4TheFuture’s “Faces of EE” campaign shines a spotlight on energy efficiency workers from a variety of backgrounds who take great pride in their work. Energy efficiency is a “job-creation powerhouse,” according to the campaign. One aspect of their work is to “humanize” statistics by looking at the passionate people who work in EE and who have chosen jobs that are non-partisan, local, made in the US, and poised for exponential growth.
Among other vital tasks and endeavors that are essential across the US, energy efficiency workers:
- Manufacture and install high efficiency systems, windows, and insulation in existing & new homes, commercial, & industrial buildings
- Construct high performance buildings meeting LEED Certification
- Upgrade and repair heating, air conditioning and ventilation (HVAC), and water heating equipment
- Install energy-saving LED lighting
- Manufacture and install ENERGY STAR-certified appliances, lighting, ceiling fans, commercial cooking equipment, refrigerators, and boilers
- Save money for businesses, homeowners, schools, states, counties, municipalities, and US armed forces
- and more
Defining Energy Efficiency
Energy efficiency — delivering the same (or more) services for less energy — helps protect the environment. Indeed, improving energy efficiency is the single best way to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. From tougher appliance standards to better building materials, advances in residential technologies are helping home and business owners save energy, with contributing research and development coming from public and private sectors alike.
When residential and business owners consume less energy, power plants generate less, which reduces GHG emissions and improves the quality of the planet’s air. Energy efficiency helps the economy by reducing the energy bill for many homeowners and businesses by 20 – 30%. For example, ENERGY STAR is the most widely recognized symbol for energy efficiency in the world, helping families and businesses save $300 billion on utility bills while reducing carbon pollution by 2 billion metric tons.
The Faces of EE mission is to spread the word about how important the energy efficiency industry is to the US economy, while promoting solutions that help make the EE sector even stronger. EE jobs involve the delivery of goods and services that lower energy use by improving technologies, appliances, buildings, and energy systems.
Energy efficiency is the fastest growing jobs sector in energy, accounting for half of the entire energy industry’s job growth (133,000) in 2017. 11% of energy efficiency jobs were held by veterans, greater than the national average of veterans in the workforce (6%).
Comments from the Faces of Energy Efficiency Themselves
Mark Tajima is COO of Energía, a 100% employee-owned energy efficiency company based in Massachusetts. The company has insulated over 5,000 residential buildings and 1,000 commercial, multi-family, and municipal projects in the last nine years. Over this time span, Energía has employed over 90 young men and women of color (25 of whom are current employees). Tajima provided the following insights to CleanTechnica about his experiences introducing and cultivating the next generation of energy efficiency workers.
“Every day my work has meaning, and how lucky am I to say that? Since 2009, I have served as the COO of an energy efficiency company that puts equity at the heart of its mission. We help households and business owners save energy because it reduces their utility bills, increases comfort levels, and promotes a healthier planet for all. We are 100% employee owned and focused on hiring workers from disadvantaged backgrounds because ALL people deserve access to meaningful employment. I’m involved in Faces of EE to show that it’s possible to run a profitable business that puts people and the planet first. This is the way to promote healthy, thriving and equitable communities.”
R. Carter Scott, leader of the New Hampshire-based TransFarmations, also accepted our CleanTechnica invitation to share perspectives about the work and the future of energy efficiency.
“I wrote essays about solar energy back in high school, and I knew early on that I’d pursue a career in promoting clean, efficient energy.Today, I’m doing business as TransFarmations, a collaborative that develops sustainable ‘agrihoods’ – communities consisting of open space, farmland, and net-positive housing that produces more energy than it consumes. I think the Faces of EE campaign is brilliant. It’s a great initiative to help spread the word about how meaningful work in energy efficiency can be. As a sustainable housing developer, I’ve seen that energy efficiency upgrades pay off for consumers. It’s rewarding to help people save money and do good for the planet at the same time.”
Strong Legislative Policy Leads to Energy Efficiency Job Growth
E4TheFuture promotes residential clean energy and sustainable resource solutions to advance climate protection and economic fairness by influencing federal, state, and local policies; by helping to build a resilient and vibrant energy efficiency and clean energy sector; and, by developing local innovative strategies. The transfer of energy efficient technologies and the reform of policies and regulations help to foster strides toward energy efficiency.
To continue creating hundreds of thousands of jobs for US citizens across all states and counties, the #EEJobsinAmerica campaign advocates so that the US Congress will:
- properly fund smart efficiency policies (which historically enjoy robust bipartisan support)
- invest in infrastructure, e.g., interval meters to enable data analytics and boost grid resilience
- renew the commercial and residential building tax credits
- fund strong state energy program and weatherization assistance programs
- maintain and protect high quality ENERGY STAR brand
State leadership on energy efficiency plays a vital role in driving America’s energy economy. The #EEJobsinAmerica campaign says that strong state policymakers have an important role to play, too. They need to support:
- strong energy efficiency standards with consistent funding
- broader use of performance contracting in public buildings
- innovative commercial and residential PACE programs
- modernization of utility regulation with revenue protection, decoupling, performance rates, and ability to earn a profit on procurement of energy efficiency as a service
About the Report
The job numbers that ground the report and the Faces of Energy Efficiency framework come from the national 2018 US Energy and Employment Report (USEER), which focuses on all energy jobs. The USEER analyzes data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) to track employment across many energy production, transmission, and distribution subsectors.
In addition, the 2018 USEER relies on a unique supplemental survey of 23,000 business representatives across the US. Created and conducted by BW Research and approved by the Office of Management and Budget and US Department of Energy (DOE), this survey is used to identify energy-related employment within key subsectors of the broader industries as classified by the BLS and to assign them into their component energy and energy efficiency sectors.
Disappointed that your state didn’t participate in the Energy Efficiency Day? Here’s the language of the proclamation. Why don’t you advocate with your local and state representatives to increase awareness and — who knows? — participation, so that your state also makes an overt and visible effort to increase its energy efficiency workforce and contributes to a clean energy future for our planet.