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Green Buildings, Green Jobs: A Closer Look at the Clean Energy Economy

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Guest blog by Andrew Bennett, International Trade Specialist and Smart Grid Industry Analyst at Commerce's International Trade Administration in the Office of Energy and Environmental Industries.

With the Department of Commerce focused on winning the future and driving the president’s vision for a growing clean energy economy, it’s good to see early results from these efforts in the form of the green jobs of today. Green Buildings is a key sector where we’re laying the foundations for the green jobs of the future.

Last month, Siemens USA announced 400 new positions across 39 states in its green technologies division, which is focused on helping cities across the country reduce energy costs through the implementation of a host of green building technology systems.

Meanwhile, in Baltimore, MTC Logistics is working with Virginia-based solar energy services provider HelioSage and Southern Energy Management, a green building services company from North Carolina, to build one of the largest roof mounted solar installations in the state of Maryland.

These ambitious green building projects not only create jobs, they also drive innovation, cut costs for businesses and government and help achieve important environmental benefits.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu had these same objectives in mind when he recently announced the private and public sector partners in the Better Building Challenge. The Challenge is part of the Better Building Initiative, led by the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and designed to catalyze private sector investment in commercial building upgrades and make America’s commercial buildings 20 percent more efficient over the next decade.

The Better Building Initiative leverages an efficiency tax credit of as much as $1.80 per square foot for buildings that meet certain energy efficiency levels. An independent analysis of the Initiative by Architecture 2030 estimates that it will create over 300,000 jobs and will lead to a net benefit to the American tax payer of approximately $2.6 billion.

The green building sector represented over 25 percent of all new construction activity in 2010, according to McGraw Hill Construction, and U.S. firms are providing leading technologies and services in key subsectors, including smart lighting, energy data management, energy efficient heating and air systems and residential solar power.

U.S. green building and energy management innovators are also finding success abroad, while creating jobs at home. The home energy data management company Opower recently announced its first export success in the form of a partnership with a major utility in the U.K. and California-based Luxim Corporation has found success in the Chinese market where hundreds of thousands of the firm’s energy efficient bulbs are being installed in street lights. Opower, an International Trade Administration client and representative on the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee, is finding success at home and abroad.

The Department of Commerce will be looking to expand the export opportunities in the green building sector next month when Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale travels to Brazil to lead the Export Green Trade Mission and attend the Green Building Brazil Conference and Expo.

All of these efforts are helping to build the foundations for a clean energy economy that will support and sustain American job growth for generations to come. In the green building sector, they’re already hiring.

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Fantastic article. Glad to

Fantastic article. Glad to see that green architecture and the green economy is on the rise especially here in the United States.