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Doug Widener, executive director of the U.S. Green Building Council, Illinois chapter, said that green jobs will be the next boom. Carpenters, HVAC technicians, electricians and plumbers all should look into more training now, to take advantage of green jobs offered in the coming years.
By Pat Barcas
OAK BROOK — Demand for green jobs will rise in the coming years, leaving business opportunities for contractors seeking to find jobs for unemployed members.
Green jobs are defined as those that stress the importance of energy and resource conservation, and according to the U.S. Green Building Council, they are a fast growing segment of the construction industry.
Doug Widener, executive director of the U.S. Green Building Council, Illinois chapter, spoke April 27 at CISCO’s 24th annual luncheon. He said Illinois is a stronghold for green building jobs.
According to Widener, Illinois ranks second per capita in the number of LEED certified buildings in the United States. Chicago is the number one city in the world for green buildings, containing more than 40 city buildings that are LEED certified.
“We are lucky to be in Illinois,” he said. “In the near future, Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to double that figure.”
Creating jobs isn’t the only benefit of green construction. There are many benefits for tenants and owners as well.
“Buildings use a lot of energy. When you build green, there are economic benefits. Bills go down, the return on investment increases,” said Widener. “The occupancy rate increases. The reduced operating costs directly benefit the bottom line.”
It’s not just new construction either, Widener said retrofitting is becoming very popular as businesses try to save more money.
“The down economy gets people thinking about retrofitting,” he said. “In the upcoming years, we’ll be focusing on retrofits, which have opportunities for economic development and jobs.”
So where are the jobs?
Widener said they are coming. Major professions such as carpenters, HVAC technicians, electricians, and plumbers will see the biggest jump in the coming years, according to a McGraw-Hill study.
Another benefit is wages have been found to be 13 percent higher than average in the green field.
“The time is now. Start training. It’s time to prepare your workers to respond to these trends,” said Widener. “We want our union members to be well equipped to deal with this influx.”
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