Developed by Seabourne Consulting, experts in Policy Series: Creating Jobs by Increasing Building Efficiency

Policy Series: Creating Jobs by Increasing Building Efficiency

Creating Jobs by Increasing Building Efficiency is part of the Equitable Economies Policy Series, a multi-part policy series developed by Well-being and Equity in the World (WE in the World), and brought to you in partnership with the Well Being In the Nation Network (WIN Network). The policy series explores priority policies within the Advancing Equitable Economies Policy Library that can be leveraged to create more equitable, well-being economies in the U.S.

Advancing More Equitable Economies in the U.S.

There are racial, place, and class-based wealth and health gaps in our economy. Racism and other discrimination cause inequalities in opportunities for people of color, women, and others. Where you live affects your access to education, jobs, and other factors that support your well-being. These inequities play a role in shaping the economy, society, and opportunity.  A more equitable economy will improve health and well-being for all. It will ensure that all people have just opportunities for fulfilling life over generations. 

Creating Jobs by Increasing Building Efficiency

explains how green jobs can advance more equitable economies, producing meaningful work that promotes health and well-being. It outlines the policy, explains why it is an important solution and how it would work. It also navigates to resources that support policymakers who want to create more equitable, well-being economies in the U.S.

Jobs That Improve Energy Efficiency Contribute to a Well-Being Economy

Energy efficiency is an important driver of job creation. When coupled with living wages and well-being principles, energy efficiency jobs can help us counter the harms of climate change, promote equity in meaningful work and community wealth and deliver environmental justice.

Projects that help the environment can create more jobs. One example is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). LEED is known worldwide for its green building certification. Getting LEED certification on every building in the United States would create green jobs. These jobs would employ people while protecting the environment. To promote a well-being economy, these jobs must be quality jobs that pay a living wage with opportunities for career growth and development.

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LEED Rating System
Resource - Website/webpage
Brought to you by USGBC

Energy Efficiency Jobs Can Promote Equity and Justice

Communities experiencing inequality now and, in the past, are regularly excluded from quality employment opportunities, while also being the most threatened by the harms of climate change. Investments in jobs in sustainability and combating climate change must center these communities’ economic empowerment. Now is the time to ensure that a well-being economy is built with equity in mind, putting people on a pathway out of poverty and into prosperity, ensuring all people and all places thrive.

  • People from all backgrounds in communities across the country can benefit from energy efficiency jobs.
  • Currently, the energy efficiency workforce does not reflect our communities with about 31% people of color and 24% women, compared to about 35% people of color and 47% women for the entire U.S. workforce.
  • The 14% unionization rate in energy efficiency jobs is higher than the 11% rate for the entire U.S. workforce, but the vast majority of energy efficiency workers are not unionized. Energy efficiency jobs could do so much more to advance equity.
  • Energy efficiency jobs are a potent multi-solver – with a growing number of advocates and supporters across many non-partisan issue areas.

Energy Efficiency Jobs Policy

To deliver on equitable health and well-being, support the creation and expansion of quality jobs by improving the efficiency of every U.S. building. 

Economic development and community development are ways to build better places to live. It is equitable when community members can decide on and take action together. Economic development only focuses on the community’s economy. It is usually led by the government or business community. Community development’s goal is broader. The goal is to build a healthier community with more opportunities for low-income, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. It’s a way to support and empower communities. Both economic and community development can include building affordable housing and creating good jobs. But community development puts more focus on getting the community involved. 

Building on the Future Energy Jobs Act

A key lesson from the campaign to win the Future Energy Jobs Act in Illinois was that the early involvement of environmental justice, community organizing, and other grassroots groups in the campaign led to legislation that achieved not just greenhouse gas reduction and other positive environmental outcomes, but also greater racial and economic equity, including a focus on jobs for marginalized populations. Energy efficiency advocates in states can benefit from this insight by making equity a core objective, on the same level as energy use reduction and associated environmental benefits, rather than just an incidental added benefit.

A Well-Being Economy Can Also Improve the Environment

Energy efficiency jobs can contribute to a well-being economy. An equitable well-being economy is a living system. It rests on the basic goal of all people and places thriving together--with no exceptions. It is an economy that is just, regenerative, multiracial. It values all stakeholder interests. An equitable economy rebalances power. It provides what everyone needs to participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. A well-being economy provides opportunity for freedom, voice, power, and ownership. It leads to a fulfilling life over generations for everyone. An economy that addresses inequities due to racism, colonialism and other discrimination creates the conditions for everyone to thrive together. These jobs aim to serve people and communities first and foremost and offer a promising path toward greater social well-being and environmental health.

Actions: Increasing Access to Good Jobs by Improving the Efficiency of Every U.S. Building

  • Join an environmental caucus.
  • Meet with environmental advocacy groups and labor unions.
  • Use local data to inform your advocacy efforts.
  • Use model legislation like the Future Energy Jobs Act
  • Support worker cooperatives, labor unions, social enterprises, and other models of economic democracy that aim to promote energy efficiency in building.
  • Work with local businesses and anchor institutions to pursue LEED certification on building in your community and to create more energy efficiency jobs.

From the Equitable Economies Library

This Equitable Economies policy brief by the WIN Network draws on the Advancing Equitable Economies Policy Library to help drive action around important policy themes.

Visit the Advancing Equitable Economies Policy Library for more policy briefs and to explore hundreds of policy strategies that have the potential to bring us closer to an equitable, well-being economy for all.

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Environmental and Economic Justice Policy Guide
Resource - Guide/handbook
Brought to you by WIN Network
Published on 10/17/2022
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Access to Good Jobs Policy Guide
Resource - Guide/handbook
Brought to you by WIN Network
Published on 04/20/2021
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Advancing Equitable Economies Policy Library
Brought to you by WIN Network
Published on 04/20/2021
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Create Jobs by Replacing or Upgrading the Efficiency of Every U.S. Building
Resource - Policy Brief
Brought to you by WIN Network
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Using the Equitable Economies Library to Make Lasting Change
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons

More Resources

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Energy Efficiency Jobs Fact Sheet
Resource - Fact Sheet
Brought to you by EESI
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Energy Efficiency and Economic Opportunity
Resource - Fact Sheet
Brought to you by ACEEE
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The Center for Law and Social Policy: Environmental Justice
Resource - Website/webpage
Brought to you by CLASP
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Redefining Green Jobs for a Sustainable Economy
Resource - Report
Brought to you by TCF

 Related Topics

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