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Green Construction & Energy-Efficiency Jobs - For Women

November 15, 2010
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Whether you call it green building or sustainable construction, the call to build more responsibly in this country is not a fad. Water conservation and energy efficiency are concepts Americans are becoming even more passionate about as they slog through the nation’s painfully slow economic recovery. Granted, they may be more concerned about saving money than saving the environment at this point in time, but does that really matter? Any conservation effort has a positive impact on the environment, however large or small.

Will all that passionate environmentalism wither and die when the federal tax incentives and state rebates expire, as it did in the 1970s? Consumers are looking for alternative methods to heat and cool their homes, as well as conserve water where possible, in order to shave dollars off their water bills, gas bills, electric bills and/or oil-heat bills. It’s unlikely that will change as the green movement has become part of mainstream America. Green organizations have popped up all over the country, as well as green building standards, and manufacturers are introducing more and more eco-friendly products each year.

Construction professionals such as plumbing and hydronic heating contractors can provide the information, the products and the expertise to install new technologies - such as solar thermal water heating or geothermal space heating/cooling - and new products in homes and businesses to save water, energy and money.

The Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau is looking at the green construction industry as part of a larger discussion on green jobs for women. The Women’s Bureau is working 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.

It has partnered with Public Policy Associates and Wider Opportunities for Women to develop a “A Woman’s Guide to Green Jobs,” which will provide women workers and workforce professionals with information on hiring needs and challenges, training and entrepreneurship opportunities, and in-demand and emerging jobs in green industries. National, state and local resources, including women’s organizations and workforce practitioners, will be included in the curriculum. “A Woman’s Guide to Green Jobs” is expected to be published in early 2011.

To gear up for the guide’s publication, the Women’s Bureau held a series of seven teleconferences on green jobs training and green employment for women. Click here to access transcripts and other downloadable information. A section on the site also highlights nine Women’s Bureau green jobs training projects - “Think Women in Green Jobs.”

Green construction jobs will only grow in the future; the U.S. Green Building Council estimates the green building industry will support or create 8 million jobs between 2009 and 2013, contributing $554 billion to the nation’s GDP. Green renovation is estimated to by as much 21 percent by 2015, according to McGraw-Hill construction.

And green jobs are poised to take center stage at this week’s Greenbuild show in Chicago in the form of a Green Jobs Summit and a Green Jobs Fair. In announcing the jobs fair, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Jane Oates said: “The green building industry shows promise as a job creator in communities across the country. It is important that we continue the green jobs conversation in the context of the continued challenging job market and ongoing economic recovery.”

If you’re a woman in the construction trades, invest the time to hone your green building skills. And if you’re a woman looking for a career change, don’t overlook the construction trades; the green building movement could change your life.
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