The Seattle area is home to a $1 billion (in gross revenues) clean technology industry with over 300 companies. These firms employ over 8,000 people at an average wage $60,000, for a total of nearly $500 million in wages. There is a 64% greater concentration of clean technology, or “green”, jobs in the Seattle area than the U.S. average .
By continuing to invest in improving the performance of our energy systems and developing new buildings that incorporate sustainable design, we can create a substantial number of good jobs in clean technology.
Seattle has an established green building sector and is recognized as a national leader in green building. Green building practices have now become mainstream building techniques, supported by both public policy and private sector investment.
Seattle has the highest concentration of architects and designers who are experts in sustainable design and possess LEED certification. Over 45 Seattle architectural firms are focused on sustainable design, including Mithun architects who have been incorporating green and sustainable practices into its designs for more than a decade for clients around the world.
In addition to job growth in the building design community, the increasing demand for energy efficient buildings has created growing employment opportunities in the construction and building maintenance industries. These jobs include the traditional building trades, energy auditing, and systems installation and maintenance to meet the increased demand for energy efficient appliances and building systems. Seattle-based McKinstry, the leading mechanical construction and engineering firm in the Pacific Northwest, recently noted that green building represents the largest revenue and employment growth area for the company.
The City of Seattle is working with the South Seattle Community College to develop a clean technology program, which includes green building and energy auditing training, to prepare the next generation of skilled workers to support green building in Seattle.
Seattle enjoys the lowest electricity rates of comparatively sized cities in the nation and has one of the lowest carbon emissions per capita in the U.S. However, as Seattle and the region continue to grow, there will be increased demand for energy and that new demand must be met with either additional resources or more aggressive conservation efforts.
Seattle City Light is already committed to new renewables in its energy portfolio, and has lead the way as a major consumer of the Stateline wind project and its Green-Up program that enables companies large and small to green their power sources.
Increased investment in new renewable energy has the potential to support a substantial number of new jobs in manufacturing and the construction trades. According to the Apollo Alliance, investing in new renewable energy could provide four times as many jobs as natural gas and 40% more jobs than coal. The addition of more than 70,000 megawatts of wind power that is expected to come online in U.S. over the next decade, alone, would generate $75 billion in new investment.
Seattle is also recognized as a leader in the use, production, and distribution of biodiesel. The City itself has one of the leading big-city green fleets, with 46 percent of its more than 3,000 vehicles running on 20 percent biodiesel, electricity, hybrid, or low-sulfur technologies. Seattle and Washington are also home to Seattle Biodiesel and Imperium Renewables, the largest biodiesel producer in the world, and Propel Biofuels, which is rapidly developing a network of biodiesel fueling sites throughout the Seattle area.
New job opportunities in clean energy offer a wide range of job opportunities, including utility linemen and electricians, utility planners, engineers, and biodiesel engine mechanics. These new and advanced energy technologies demand extensive training for a new workforce.
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