Green power is helping the United States wean itself off fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is also creating jobs.
According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), Washington, D.C., so-called “climate jobs” are a robust part of the U.S. economy. The EESI defines climate jobs as those “that help mitigate and adapt to climate change.” Of the many sectors creating climate jobs, energy efficiency is leading the way.
Drawing on data provided by the Department of Energy's United States Energy and Employment Report, the EESI observes that there were 2.1 million energy-efficiency jobs in the United States in 2020. The sector, along with others, shed many jobs in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is expected to return to a path of growth as the pandemic wanes. The sector lost 11.4% of its jobs last year, but it is expected to grow by about 10.1% in 2021, says the EESI.
The energy efficiency sector encompasses many different job categories. Manufacturing, installing and servicing Energy Star appliances employ the most at approximately 536,000, followed closely by traditional HVAC equipment with 531,000 jobs. Advanced and recycled building materials employ about 397,000, and energy-efficient lighting accounts for roughly 338,000 jobs.
According to the EESI, California had the most energy-efficiency jobs in 2020 with 283,000. In second place, Texas employs about 152,100 in efficiency industries, followed by New York and Florida, with approximately 121,000 and 108,900 jobs, respectively.
Demand for efficiency has created jobs across several traditional employment sectors. Most employees, 54%, worked in the construction industry. Not surprisingly, most of the efficiency job losses in 2020 were also in the construction industry. On the bright side, as efficiency jobs rebound in the wake of the pandemic, the construction industry is also likely to lead the way with a 12% increase, or about 138,000 jobs by the end of this year.