Friday, January 13, 2012
What is a ‘ Green Job’?
What is a ‘ Green Job’?
I read about it in the paper, see it on the news and hear it on the radio…but what exactly is it? It sounds great, politically correct, good for the environment, and it is the ever more elusive ‘job’ that 9% of Americans are currently unable to locate. But how come no one can ever see one? What are they? Where are they? They are easier to find than you may think.
My company, Energy Independent Solutions, EIS, is a ‘Green Job’ company. Our primary work is to design and build solar arrays but we also build wind turbines, provide energy audits and consult on a wide variety of alternative energy and energy efficiency projects.
Some of the jobs our small business creates are as obviously ‘Green’ as they come. We have solar designers, solar sales people, solar site assessors, Energy Auditors and administrative personnel who coordinate with the utilities, register the arrays on the PJM grid, and complete the mountain of solar specific paperwork necessary to complete this type of project.
Beyond the obvious job titles and the uniform that says ‘Harvest the Sun’ imprinted on it, our ‘Green’ job becomes more difficult to pick out from afar. The bulk of our staff are construction workers. A solar array is simply a high end construction project that involves solar panels. So our ‘Green’ jobs look like any other job but have an additional skillset that is solar related. They are electricians, plumbers, roofers, excavators, carpenters, truck drivers, and warehouse workers. These are just direct EIS employees. When the Pennsylvania solar industry releases job creation number like the 6700 direct jobs created in PA by solar, roughly 15 of which are EIS employees, these are the jobs they are talking about. Just Direct and somewhat easily identifiable solar related jobs.
Let’s look a little further.
Where do our primary components come from? At EIS we use 100% American Made solar panels. Our preferred panel is manufactured from 100% American made materials with 100% American located labor. This means every piece of silicon that makes up the solar cell is mined, cooked and cut in the USA; every piece of aluminum is mined or recycled and extruded in the USA; every piece of wire, transistor, solder and other minor components are 100% American manufactured products. Our preferred inverter is largely manufactured in Denver although many of the sub-components actually are manufactured in Europe. Due to the cost of shipping metal, most racking is American Made. Much of it comes right out of Western PA and Eastern OH and is made from 100% American steel and aluminum. The old Warner ladder extrusion plant just north of Pittsburgh extrudes aluminum for solar racking companies as one example. Wire, conduit, switchgear and copper pipe are the next largest components. Most of which are made by local companies. All of these companies, whether they know it or not are providing ‘Green Jobs’.
We buy materials from these above mentioned locations and in order to get it to us, it must be shipped by truck or train and then it must be warehoused by our distributors and staged before sending directly to our warehouse or jobsite. This requires distribution companies to provide warehouse workers, truck drivers, train engineers, gas station attendants, maintenance mechanics, tires, etc. More ‘Green Jobs’.
Our crews need to move tools and personnel to jobsites which require vehicles purchased in Pittsburgh, gas, tires, maintenance, tolls etc. all paid into our local economy. More ‘Green Jobs’.
We buy all miscellaneous components from local hardware stores, Home Depots, Lowes, electrical and plumbing supply houses, concrete companies, steel pipe distributors etc. More ‘Green Jobs’.
Each project requires an engineer to create and stamp a drawing, a permit application and fee to your township, an inspection and fee to your township. More ‘Green Jobs’.
We market our product using a local advertising firm, a website, print and various forms of media…designers, printers, advertising reps, web designers, SEO optimizations specialists, printer repairmen…More ‘Green Jobs’.
I could go on but the point is that ‘Green Jobs’ are not clearly labeled and therefore hard to see and easy to deny the existence of. The impact of these jobs is undeniable. What America needs most right now is jobs and solar and other ‘Green’ industries create these jobs. Sometimes you can see them but the vast majority are right in front of you and you don’t even realize you are looking at them.