June 12th, 2009
Green-collar workers — who include everyone from energy-efficiency consultants to wastewater plant operators — constitute a tiny but fast-growing segment of the U.S. economy, according to a study published today by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The “clean-energy economy” grew 9.1 percent between 1998 and 2007 to 777,000 jobs. While that is just half a percent of all U.S. jobs, the clean-energy economy is poised to grow significantly with financial support from the public and private sectors, the Pew report concludes.
“The nation’s clean-energy economy is poised for explosive growth,” said Lori Grange, the Pew Center on the States’ interim deputy director. “The trends include surging venture capital investment … a critical growth rate in clean-energy generation, energy efficiency and environmentally friendly products.”
About 80 percent of venture capital investments in 2008 were in the clean energy and energy efficiency sector, broadly known as “cleantech.” And while cleantech slumped with overall venture capital in the first quarter of 2009, the sector outperformed telecommunications, media and other sectors, according to an analysis of Thompson Reuters data by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.
“[Cleantech] is faring better than the rest of the venture capital sectors — that’s driven by the sense that the government policy thinking has changed radically with the new administration,” said David Prend, a NVCA director and managing general partner at the venture capital firm RockPort Capital Partners.
Indeed, the Pew report cites the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which President Obama signed in February, as a significant force driving the clean-energy economy. The stimulus includes nearly $85 billion in direct spending and tax incentives for energy- and transportation-related programs.
The report finds that job growth in the clean-energy economy outperformed total job growth in 38 states and the District of Columbia between 1998 and 2007, the most recent year for which data are available. The total number of jobs grew 3.7 percent during that period, which included the dot-com boom and bust and the beginning of the current recession.
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March 9th, 2009
Got a green business — or thinking about starting one — in this crazy economy? Then you’re likely busy doing a whole bunch of research on green businesses and the green market — and you’ll be happy to know that State of Green Business 2009, a FREE 62-page report, came out just last month!
Published by green business guru Joel Mackower and the editors of GreenBiz.com, State of Green Business 2009 lets you in on the 10 trends of 2008 — and the 20 indicators that “in aggregate, provide a picture of U.S. companies’ environmental achievements,” according to the authors.
The details are eye-opening — though if you’re looking for specific how-tos on making your green business successful, you’ll be disappointed. State of Green Business 2009 is less about how you can make your green business succeed and more about how green business is (or isn’t) helping the environment. The report’s muted vibe is this: “Ask not what your green business can do for you, but your green biz can do for the environment.”
That’s not to say that the report won’t be helpful at all for your green biz endeavors. After all, we need to take a good solid look at what’s happened to get a glimpse at what may be ahead. This studying the past aspect is where the report’s most helpful. State of Green Business labels each of its indicators with swim, tread, or sink icons, letting us know at a glance what’s going well and what isn’t.
What’s hot? In 2008, clean tech investments got twice the investments they did in 2007, among other good news. What’s not? Greenhouse gas emissions are still going up, though Obama might turn this sad trend around in the coming years.
But if you’re a green business owner or owner-to-be, what you’re interested in is probably less what happened last year as what will happen this year and the next. Unfortunately, the report’s rather low on conclusions. Makower takes the easy way out, ending his introduction to the report with a serious of yes-no questions:
“Are we moving far enough, fast enough? Does the ever-growing green activity in the business world represent a true transformation, one capable of adequately addressing pressing issues like climate change, air quality, the loss of species, and the looming water crisis? Or is it merely nibbling at the edges of the problems?”
These pressing questions are answered only with a vague statement: “Reasonable minds can justifiably argue both sides. The coming year will be a critical one for the future of green business and, by extension, the future of the planet.” Makower’s bloggy summary of the report’s highlights offers an even vaguer “We find ourselves in uncharted waters” — though Makower does say he fears “Optimistic as I am most days, I fear that the answer tends more toward the latter” of the options in his series of questions.
Read the full report to find out how the State of Green Business is today, on everything from employee telecommuting to packaging intensity. If that’s not enough, watch the videos from the State of Green Business Forum, an event held in conjunction with the debut of the report, to hear green business experts elaborate on these pressing eco issues. Best of luck with your eco-entrepreneurial endeavors!
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