With the Copenhagen Climate Summit monopolizing much of the recent eco news coverage, it is hard to not to be down about the environmental future of the world. However, I don’t think everything always needs to be doom and gloom. Sure, we are in an environmental crisis right now and we absolutely have to act to stave off future catastrophe, but 2009 saw a lot of growth on the green business front and I am optimistic at how 2010 will pan out.
I’ve already proclaimed 2009 to be the Year of the Green Job. Of course I don’t have the power to make an official mandate but in my opinion, green jobs went from being a topic discussed by environmental advocates to a topic being discussed by anyone, anywhere over the course of the year. This warrants a personal proclamation.
I even heard green jobs being discussed while waiting to pick up my children from school. I don’t live in an area known for its great environmental programs and I’m quite certain that my neighbors don’t consider the environmental impact of everything they do, but they were talking about green jobs.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is responsible for funding the Green Jobs Act of 2007. In my opinion, this funding along with additional monies set aside for green jobs by the ARRA, is responsible for most of the interest in the industry. These grants and loans will continue to fund projects well into 2010.
Even after the ARRA money allocated to green jobs is depleted, the country will still benefit. The training that these workers received and the fact that green jobs are now a household conversation topic will continue to support the green jobs movement for years to come.
The ARRA funded more than just green jobs training programs, it has also provided funding for energy efficient projects, increased or extended tax incentives for consumers and businesses, is helping communities expand their broadband infrastructure, and much more. In my opinion, the Recovery Act is the top green finance story of the year and will undoubtedly continue supporting green businesses in the year to come.
Another green finance-related topic that we may see come to fruition in 2010 is cap-and-trade legislation here in the United States. The U.S. is a bit behind the curve on this and according to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C), “you will never become energy independent until you price carbon.” Source: Associated Press
There is even talk that if Congress doesn’t pass cap-and-trade legislation, President Obama may turn to the Environmental Protection Agency to institute carbon regulations. I can only hope that in one year, as 2010 comes to a close, I can write about cap-and-trade legislation being one of the year’s top green finance highlights.
I’m going to age myself a bit with the following metaphor but to me, green building today is like Guess jeans were in the late 1980s. The cool kids already had them but everyone else wanted them. The cool kids, in this case, are LEED-certified buildings. Just take a look at the most recent USGBC LEED statistics, the green building rating system is seeing growth outside of the commercial office realm and is also seeing an increase in global demand.
More and more building owners and developers want this coveted LEED certification. I expect to see continued growth in the green building industry in 2010 including more college degree programs geared towards sustainable design and construction. I also feel that the green building industry will continue to see prominent growth on an international level with more countries developing their own green building councils.
As green jobs, green finance, and green building continue to make headlines in 2010, it is only natural that companies begin to implement more eco-friendly measures into their daily office operations. These changes will come from both the employees and the business owners.
As business owners realize the fiscal and environmental benefits of going green in the office place, they will focus on building a sustainability program. Likewise, as employees see the benefit of going green in their personal lives, this attitude will carry over to the office place. This is a win-win situation and the green office is poised to be the standard in 2010.
Overall, I am very optimistic about 2010 from a green business perspective. I’d love to hear what you think.
Do you think green jobs will continue to make a splash in the coming year? How about the cap-and-trade program, will we see it in 2010?