Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Planners and the Green Economy

Green economic development is center-stage this afternoon on a White House blog post. The post is promoting the coalition organization, Green the Block, which aims "to educate and mobilize low-income, traditionally under-served communities to ensure they have the resources and platforms needed to access the benefits and opportunities of the growing clean-energy economy." It also mentions that "through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we've already invested more than $60 billion toward the green jobs of tomorrow."

An article in the Winter 2009 EDD News and Views, "Economic Development and the Green Economy" by Isabelle Xu and Shana Johnson noted that while the "green economy" has become a buzz word, an explicit definition of the nature and potential of green industries is only now developing. APA's Green Communities Research Center currently offers links to two articles on planning for green jobs, but clearly our knowledge on planning for green jobs is still in its infancy. A February 2009 Planning magazine article, "Blue Collar, Green Collar" argued that planners should think ahead and preserve some industrial space threatened by redevelopment for future green industries. (EDD membership is required to view the News and Views article, APA membership is required to view the Planning magazine article).

Today, the division wants to hear your thoughts on the future of green jobs and industries.

How should economic development planners prepare our communities for the green economy?

Has your community been impacted by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's funds for green jobs training, home weatherization or other renewable energy projects? Are green jobs in demand in where you live? Would you consider targeting green industries or jobs in your economic development plan?


  1. We need a better definition of green jobs to begin with. At this point people seem to be focusing on renewable energy and energy conservation as the sole source for green jobs. That leaves out a large market segment which includes such areas as professional services which assist businesses to green their operations; design for the environment (the retooling of manufacturing processes to make them more harmonious with the environment); green chemistry (the replacement of toxic chemicals with others which have less of an environmental imprint); the management of eco-industrial parks and creation of networks which improve the efficiency of industrial operations and which reuse materials and by-products; as well as areas such as the green roof industry. We also need better data on multipliers for green jobs and sources to cite for that data. All of these items will better inform our discussion of the topic as planners and economic development professionals.

  2. I agree with Pedro that green jobs are not well defined, that they extend beyond renewable energy and energy conservation work, and that the data in this field is lacking.

    I believe that planners can help prepare our communities for the green economy by identifiying relevant local assets and then engaging with firms, NGOs and other stakeholders to implement a green economic development strategy that makes sense for individual localities. A green economy strategy will look quite different in an older industrial area that has suffered disinvestment than it would in a location that is well endowed with knowledge economy assets.