Contributed by Diana Cooper, Green Lead for Economic Development
In a report commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme, green jobs “contribute significantly to preserving or restoring environmental quality and could include, but are not limited to: helping to protect ecosystems and biodiversity; reducing energy, materials, and water consumption through high-efficiency strategies; de-carbonizing the economy; and minimizing or avoiding the production of waste and pollution.”
Yup, we got those jobs in Prince Edward County.
The current growth in the green economy is renewable energy spurred on by Ontario’s Green Energy Act, Feed-In tariff program (FIT) and the new Ontario content requirement. This spans manufacturing, installation, operation and maintenance as well as all the support positions like sales, administration and human resources.
Cleave Energy is a Prince Edward County business that has grown to become a leader in Eastern Ontario when it comes to solar installations. Cleave Energy is an early adapter to the green economic opportunity and the biggest employer locally of green jobs including installers and electricians, but also sales and administration jobs.
A second boom market is in green construction and building. The demand for greener, more sustainable buildings is growing exponentially. The building codes are demanding more efficiency and, more importantly, consumers want healthy, efficient homes and offices. Much of the immediate demand is on cost savings in energy: insulation, windows, lighting, plumbing and alternative energy (geothermal and solar).
We have seen the shift in our local building projects such as the Waring House expansion, the new Hydro Building in the industrial park (LEEDS certified) and countless residential properties. Key is obtaining certifications for building to new standards such as LEEDS or EnergyStar as these are becoming prerequisites for new projects.
This also means the opportunity to design and market new products like Wellington inventor Arnold Hennessy (a success story dating back to the 1970’s in the County!) did with low flush toilets. The provincial and federal governments have grants available for green innovation. In addition, learning or updating skills that incorporate green expands traditional markets.
One big problem in this new green economy is simply that employers can’t find enough trained, green workers to do all the jobs that are available, according to Van Jones, (an American guru of the green economy and widely referenced on this topic).
Many of the green jobs for which community colleges are, or will be, preparing workers span several key economic sectors including renewable energy, buildings and construction (energy efficiency), transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, and forestry. We are fortunate to be near Loyalist and St Lawrence Colleges, both have introduced some great programs and up grading targeted at the new green economy.
And then there is our local agricultural and tourism industry that is a model of how to be green: local producers selling to local business, expanding focus on organics. Fifth Town Cheese continues to win accolades well beyond our County border for walking the talk when it comes to being green, community minded business and creating green jobs.
So, let’s talk about how you can green your job and your business. I would like to hear about more green jobs in Prince Edward County or where you think the opportunities lie. Contact me (Diana Cooper) at email@example.com