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Building an Inclusive Economy: Green Building Construction Supports Green Jobs for All

Buzz words and hot topics come and go, but "green jobs" are here to stay. In a recovering economy, jobs remain a top priority for our leaders and the Americans they represent. Green building jobs represent a bright light in the recovery process, because these are long-term, high-quality jobs for the future. As the economy rebounds, there are employment needs at all levels of the proverbial "career ladder." Green building fills the billet by supporting jobs at all professional and skill levels. Through the demand for LEED, energy and resource efficient buildings, and healthy, safe schools for our children, we are building an inclusive economy with green jobs for all. The third regional Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference kicks off today in Philadelphia as a diverse group of stakeholders convene in support of good, green jobs.

Green building construction is supports jobs in a range of occupations. Booz Allen Hamilton estimates that from 2009-2013 the green building industry will support 8 million jobs throughout the economy, from "construction managers and carpenters to truck drivers and cost estimators." These jobs will provide $396 billion in labor earnings and will generate an additional $554 billion in GDP. Just as all parts of an ecosystem are indispensible, ALL of the jobs in the green building supply chain are crucial to the functioning of the industry and economy.

In order to meet the growing demand for green building, we need a trained workforce. During my time in Atlanta at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference in February, I learned of the program, "TRADE-UP," which is a pre-apprenticeship and workforce development program. TRADE-UP provides essential training and job placement to prepare individuals for entry into the construction workforce. This is one of countless training programs that support our workforce which, in turn, support the green building industry.  The Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference, organized by the BlueGreen Alliance, is unique in that it brings together two communities—organized labor and environmental movement—around the common theme of high-quality and environmentally conscious jobs. Learn more about my experience at the Atlanta conference in my blog, "Blue is the New Green: Organized Labor and Environmental Sector Rally for Good, Green Jobs."

One day, "green jobs" will be passé, not because the concept has fallen out of favor but because green jobs will be the norm. We will know that we have realized the green economy when we no longer need to call it green. In short, green buildings = jobs (and lots of them). Follow me on twitter (@maggiecomstock) to engage in the green building jobs conversation as I tweet from the Good Jobs, Green Job Conference April 3-4.