Research Findings

View, download or print the Executive Summary or Full Report (70 pages) or select the links below to view individual chapters.

  • Green Jobs Definition

    Read the summary below or download the entire Chapter One from the printed report.

    This study defines a green job as one that is  directly related and/or essential to a green product, green service, or green process and at which workers spend at least 50 percent of the time in any of the following activities:

    • Renewable Energy or Alternative Fuels
    • Energy and/or Resource Efficiency
    • Environmental Cleanup (including recycling and pollution prevention/mitigation activities)
    • Sustainable Agriculture or Natural Resource Conservation
    • Environmental Education, Regulation, Compliance, or Research
  • Profile of Minnesota's Green Economy

    Read the summary below or download the entire Chapter Two from the printed report.

    Green job vacancies represented 2.5 percent (3,882 vacancies) of overall hiring demand in Minnesota between fourth quarter 2009 and second quarter 2011 [1]. These vacancies were found in 263 firms, predominantly private companies, across the state with about half in the Twin Cities metro area and half outside of the metro area. Establishments with fewer than nine employees had the highest concentration of green job vacancies (29 percent).

    With its diversified economy, Minnesota has a piece of just about every possible green activity, from reforestation to cutting-edge research on biopolymers. While green vacancies were reported in a wide variety of industries, the greatest numbers were in construction and manufacturing.

    The concentration of green vacancies in the manufacturing sector -- where Minnesota already has a competitive advantage in terms of employment concentration, firm concentration, and locally available workforce -- suggests that the greening of the economy could contribute to strengthening the state’s manufacturing base.

    The following list describes the relative size of Minnesota’s green economy, composition, and distinguishing characteristics of each green category:

    Energy and Resource Efficiency (31 percent) 
    These jobs contribute to designing, manufacturing, installing, maintaining, and/or selling products or services that increase energy and resource efficiency. This sector benefits from Minnesota’s extreme climate, strict building codes, and opportunities for long-term energy savings.

    Recycling and Pollution Prevention (22 percent) 
    These jobs focus on reusing/recovering materials, manufacturing low-impact and non-toxic products, and reducing the carbon footprint of transportation and manufacturing activities. Minnesota has a strong recycling sector that supports local manufacturers by creating a market for industrial byproducts and materials recovered from solid waste.This category also has an important research and development component in Minnesota, specifically in green chemistry and bio-based plastics.

    Natural Resource Conservation (13 percent) 
    These jobs contribute to conserving Minnesota's natural resources and ensuring their most efficient use. Public-sector hiring was the most concentrated in this green category, with government accounting for 80 percent of all openings. [2]

    Environmental Compliance (11 percent) 
    These jobs include corporate headquarters positions such as environmental compliance managers and corporate sustainability specialists. Hiring from nonprofits and government was also strong in this category and included fund raisers for conservation-related activities and scholars engaged in applied research.

    Renewable Energy (11 percent) 
    These jobs involve the generation, storage, and distribution of power from renewable sources or alternative fuels. With good wind potential and abundant agricultural feedstock, Minnesota is investing in renewable energy sources and biomass fuel sources.

    Pollution Control (8 percent) 
    These jobs contribute to pollution control/mitigation and waste treatment. Given myriad pollution sources and problems, businesses face the challenge of identifying viable and effective cleanup options, with solutions coming from a variety of disciplines.

    Water Treatment and Conservation (3 percent) 
    These jobs contribute to cleaning up, conserving, and optimizing the use of water resources. Issues of water quantity and quality are essential for many types of economic development.

    [1] The study period included 4 quarters between fall 2009 and spring 2011: fall 2009, spring 2010, fall 2010, and spring 2011. Moreover, since the survey was constructed to measure job vacancies, not current jobs, the data collected cannot be interpreted to determine the size of the green economy in Minnesota.

    [2] Self-employed farmers were not included in the universe of surveyed establishments.

  • Table: Minnesota Green Economy Sectors

    Download a version of this table from the printed report.

    Minnesota Green Economy Sectors and Detailed Areas of Specialization 
    Fall 2009-Spring 2011

    Detailed Segments

    Estimated Green Vacancies

    Examples of Products and Services

    1. Renewable Energy and Alternative Fuel

    Renewable Energy Generation & Distribution



    Wind turbine maintenance; geotechnical surveying, design and construction of cement foundations for wind turbines



    R&D, installation, and sale of geothermal technologies

    Solar (thermal and power systems)


    Design and installation of commercial solar systems

    Waste-to-energy (feedstocks include solid, agricultural, and other biowaste materials)


    Solid waste incineration to produce electric and thermal energy, landfill gas methane recovery and use

    Renewable energy services (not source-specific)


    Infrastructure development (storage devices for renewable energy, high-voltage power grid design, construction permitting)

    Alternative Fuel



    Ethanol production, biomass fuel pellets manufacturing, logging operations that harvest waste-wood for biomass, agricultural biomass for power and fuels


    Other clean energy technologies


    Co-generation; fuel cells, nano-materials, and thin film manufacturing

    2. Energy and Resource Efficiency


    Green architecture and construction services


    Sustainable design services, LEED certification services, low-impact development practices

    Energy Efficient Technologies

    Energy-efficient construction services


    Building inspection, plumbing, radiant floor heating, roofing, electrical work

    Energy-efficient HVAC and building control systems manufacturing and installation/repair


    HVAC systems, wireless sensors, energy-efficient building retrofits

    Energy-saving construction supplies, appliances, and consumer goods manufacturing and installation/repair


    Energy-efficient windows, roofs, insulation

    Energy-efficient building operations and professional energy management services


    Energy auditing and commissioning, energy analysis, boiler operations

    Energy storage technologies manufacturing


    Energy storage/harvesting solutions, lithium and other advanced batteries, energy efficient data storage solutions

    Advanced lighting products


    LED lighting, lighting controls

    Efficiency of the electric power grid (manufacturing and services)


    Substation automation, advanced metering and control technologies, Smart Grid applications (software programs, demand response)

    Resource-efficient precision instruments and industrial process automation device manufacturing


    Flow control systems; thermostats, energy measuring systems; smart meters; pumps; instruments for the detection of environmental changes (temperature or humidity, water leakage, power failures)

    Water Conservation & Recovery

    Water conservation practices and technologies


    Grey water recovery, water recycling, water reduction

    3. Pollution Control, Remediation, and Waste Management

    Pollution Control & Remediation

    Remediation services


    Evaluation and remediation of contaminated sites, clean up, brownfield redevelopment, emergency response, asbestos removal

    Professional environmental services (investigation)


    Environmental site assessments, hydrological assessments and wetland delineation, air quality consulting, air and water quality monitoring, infrastructure and facility design for environmental purposes such as stormwater management

    Air pollution control and monitoring equipment manufacturing and operations


    Industrial ventilation systems, dust collectors, industrial air quality and greenhouse gas emissions monitoring, installing and doing feasibility studies for pollution control equipment

    Waste Management

    Waste treatment and end of life disposal


    Hazmat removal services, landfills design, solid and organic (food) wastes composting

    4. Pollution Prevention

    Resource Recovery

    Recycling and reuse, both services and manufacturing


    Recyclables collection and sorting, sale of second-hand and refurbished products

    Recycled-content goods and sustainable packaging manufacturing


    Goods that contain recycled content, packaging that uses less material

    Sustainable Materials

    Sustainable materials manufacturing, including R&D and commercialization


    Green chemistry (biopolymers, biodegradable products, coatings, biocomposites); non-toxic paints, non-toxic cleaning and toiletry products

    Services specializing in the use of low-impact, non-toxic materials


    Construction, industrial and interior design, maintenance, and cleaning services specializing in the use of sustainable materials


    Green transportation technologies manufacturing


    Low-emission vehicles and equipment such as electric and hybrid vehicles, natural gas vehicles; diesel technology; vehicle components/engines, catalytic converters

    Public mass transit


    Bus and rail operations; mass transit planning and engineering


    Waste minimization processes


    Lean manufacturing and supply chain operations

    5. Water Treatment and Conservation


    Wastewater treatment services


    Wastewater process and facility design, filtering and purification operation, plant operations, environmental analysis

    Water treatment and purification products (design, manufacturing, installation, specialized sale)


    Water treatment filters, pumps, and valves

    Management & Conservation

    Stormwater management and conservation design


    Low impact landscaping services; bank stabilization; stream restoration, floodplain analysis, stormwater recovery products

    6. Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Conservation

    Sustainable Agriculture

    Organic food and sustainable farming


    Organic/sustainable nurseries, promoting sustainable farming practices and conservation techniques such as manure management and feedlots

    Natural Resource Conservation

    Resource conservation and habitat/wildlife restoration


    Forestry management/reforestation, wetland and prairie restoration, wildlife protection, nature park maintenance

    Land management and environmental planning


    Soil management to prevent stream water pollution, land acquisition, environmental surveying and planning

    7. Environmental Regulation, Compliance, Research, Advocacy, Education, and Other Support Services

    Business Support Services

    Regulation and compliance


    Air quality permitting, greenhouse gas emissions inventories, Environmental Health and Safety compliance, sustainable products certification

    Market research, business development, and corporate planning


    Analysis of market demand for green products for commercialization, sustainability planning

    Advocacy & Education

    Research, advocacy, public awareness, education and training


    Academic research on environmental topics, advocacy and fundraising for conservation-related issues, deliver vocational training in “green” skilled trades, educate the public on energy conservation measures

  • Green Vacancies by Region

    Read the summary below or download the entire Chapter Three from the printed report.

    Green job vacancies were fairly equally distributed between the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area and Greater Minnesota. The pie chart below shows the number of green vacancies by planning region.

    Chart: Regional Distribution of Green Vacancies 

    As a percent of total vacancies, central, southwest and northeast Minnesota have the greatest concentration of green vacancies. The breakouts below illustrate each region's green activities.

    Twin Cities 
    Remediation and environmental services firms are concentrated here, as well as mass transit planning authorities and major recycling operations, all classified in pollution prevention. Energy efficiency was the second most in-demand area, driven by the high concentration of buildings (new and existing) and architectural firms.

    Research and development, environmental consulting, IT, environmental advocacy organizations, academic research institutions, and administration of government programs regarding air, water, and waste are uniquely located in the Twin Cities. Moreover, linkages between metro and Greater Minnesota markets include software companies that are developing and selling “smart grid” and other IT solutions for energy efficiency to utilities located in rural areas of the state and green construction services with supply chain relationships to Greater Minnesota.

    Central Minnesota
    Construction and manufacturing in this region contribute to energy efficiency. The region also generated openings in renewable energy, especially geothermal.

    Southwest Minnesota
    This region leads the state in renewable energy and alternative fuels with wind turbines and the local ethanol industry.

    Northeast Minnesota
    Government-regulated industries like mining and utilities helped to make this region stand out in the environmental compliance category of green activities. Other green sectors like pollution prevention and natural resource conservation were also well represented, driven by the need to protect the region’s abundant natural resources.

    Northwest Minnesota
    The region’s main contribution came from natural resource conservation, primarily represented by forest service jobs. Water treatment and conservation activities were also concentrated in this region.

    Southeast Minnesota
    Manufacturers of energy-efficient products are concentrated here. The region also hosts organic farms that contribute to natural resource conservation.

  • Green Vacancies by Industry, Firm Ownership and Firm Size

    Read the summary below or download the entire Chapter Four from the printed report.

    Chart: Green vacancies by broad industry group 

    Minnesota’s green economy mirrors the diversity of the state’s industry mix. Green vacancies were spread across 120 industries. The pie chart illustrates the percent of green vacancies by industry group. Green activities in Minnesota for each industry follow.

    Installation and servicing of furnaces, air conditioners, electrical building control systems, and geothermal heat pumps as well as roofing and insulation services.

    Electrical building control systems and programmable thermostats for demand response; industrial precision instruments to measure air pollution, treat water, and control water flow for conservation purposes; process variable instruments to achieve resource efficiency in industrial processes; development and manufacturing of recycled-content plastic products, pipes for radiant floor heating, fuel cells, and semiconductors; energy-efficient windows manufacturing; and manufacturing, installation, and repair of energy-efficient HVAC and geothermal heat units.

    Wholesale Trade
    Recycling of post-consumer goods and wholesale trade of water treatment and purification products.

    Other Services Except Public Administration
    This diverse, catch-all industry group includes public education and advocacy on conservation and environmental protection and wind turbine installation and repair.

    Professional and Technical Services
    Air quality permitting, environmental compliance, environmental testing services, sustainable architectural design and construction, environment assessment services, and building commissioning services. 

    Job Vacancies by Firm Size

    Firm Size Class

    Total Vacancies

    Green Vacancies

    Green Share of Total

    1-9 employees (very small)




    10-49 employees (small)




    50-249 employees (medium)




    250 or more employees (large)




    Total, all size classes




    Ownership and Firm Size
    The distribution of green vacancies by ownership very closely resembles the distribution of all vacancies by ownership in Minnesota. Ownership categories are as follows: private corporation (75 percent of all green vacancies); private nonprofit (12 percent of all green vacancies) and government (13 percent of green vacancies).

    By firm size, green job vacancies were most highly concentrated in small establishments (67 percent) and least concentrated in large establishments (11 percent). This differs markedly from total vacancies, which were most concentrated in medium-sized establishments.

    Two-thirds of all green vacancies reported in establishments with fewer than 10 employees were newly created positions [1] (66 percent). Overall, green workforce expansion is more prevalent in small and medium size establishments than in larger establishments.

    [1] Newly created positions are defined as positions new to the company, not replacement openings to fill positions recently left vacant.

  • Green Vacancies by Occupation

    Read the summary below or download the entire Chapter Five from the printed report.

    Chart: Green vacancies by occupation group 

    The greening of Minnesota’s economy is most clearly observable at the occupational level, where new green tasks are being added to traditional occupational tasks. While green jobs are distributed across many occupations (see pie chart), nearly half of all green job vacancies are concentrated in three major occupational groups: Installation, Maintenance, and Repair; Architecture and Engineering; and Construction. A snapshot of each of the green occupational groups follows.

    Installation, Maintenance, and Repair 
    Repair and maintenance services are needed throughout the green economy, but predominantly they contribute to energy efficiency by operating, installing, replacing, and fixing systems such as furnaces, boilers, HVAC systems, and factory equipment to optimize their use.

    Architecture and Engineering 
    Engineers are the backbone of the green economy. Their range of activities includes developing new technology and incorporating it into products while ensuring quality and performance; identifying solutions to one-of-a-kind technical problems; and educating customers about the long-term environmental benefits of green solutions.

    Construction occupations are involved in everything from building new and retrofitting existing structures to improve energy efficiency, to light rail and other transit projects, to erecting the towers and electric lines that connect wind turbines to the power grid.

    Management and Business Specialists 
    These occupations are critically important to the future of the green economy because of the role they play in market creation, customer education, organizational development, and regulatory compliance. Business operations specialists have the highest concentration of new green job titles in Minnesota, reflecting the emergence of new green subspecialties such as regulatory affairs and environmental compliance managers, lean supply chain managers, logistics analysts and green marketers.

    Life and Physical Scientists 
    These occupations not only conduct laboratory research, but they help get products from the research and development stage into production. They also assist engineers, architects and construction managers to incorporate ecological concepts into buildings, landscape and remediation design. An emerging area of activity for life scientists is green product certification.

    Green Production 
    In general, green production jobs involve the performance of traditional production tasks that happen to be essential to the production of a green product. In Minnesota these workers: separate recyclable from non-recyclable material in recycling plants; operate and troubleshoot machines predominantly used to make green products (e.g. water filtration membranes); monitor and operate machinery and pumps in municipal wastewater treatment facilities; and operate and ensure efficient use of boilers.

    Sales and Related 
    The sale of many green products often requires specialized knowledge in order to demonstrate the product’s benefits to the customer and to obtain constant feedback on product uses and areas of improvement. Green sales and related jobs are most often technical sales representatives.

    Green Transportation 
    Green transportation jobs in Minnesota involve collecting recyclable goods and driving public buses or passenger trains.

    Other Occupations 
    Other occupations where green jobs are found typically include agricultural, forestry, & conservation and building & grounds maintenance jobs.

  • Wages of Green Vacancies

    Read the summary below or download the entire Chapter Six from the printed report.

    Wage offers for green vacancies are higher than for all vacancies, even when considering only full-time positions. The only exception is the top 10 percent of the distribution, where green vacancies offer $34 per hour compared to $40 for all vacancies. These results illustrate the high quality of green jobs.

    These higher wages are driven primarily by differences in occupational mix rather than a “wage premium” for green jobs. Green jobs tend to fall in occupations that have higher education and skill requirements than average (see graph).

    Chart: Median hourly wages for full-time vacancies, selected occupational groups 

    Exceptions are due to the specific occupation or skill being hired for or the type of firm doing the hiring. Examples of occupations where emerging green specialties appeared to be better paid than others within the same occupation are business operations specialties, compliance officers, cost estimators, and marketing specialists. These are also the positions that employers reported difficulties filling. On the other hand, wages in management occupations tend to be lower paid, largely because many of these positions are in small firms in the nonprofit sector.

    Other important dimensions of these jobs include:

    • Almost nine out of 10 green vacancies were for full-time work. In contrast, only 6 out of 10 total vacancies were for full-time work.
    • 64 percent of green jobs offered health insurance benefits, similar to that offered by all vacancies.

    Green vacancies did not differ at all from the total population of vacancies with regard to seasonality: 80 percent of all reported positions were permanent.

  • Education Characteristics of Green Vacancies

    Read the summary below or download entire Chapter Seven from the printed report.

    Degrees in engineering (chemical, mechanical, civil or environmental), chemistry, environmental science, and vocational training in HVAC repair and maintenance were among the credentials preferred by employers.

    Educational Requirements

    Diploma or Degree

    Total Vacancies

    Green Vacancies

    H.S./GED or less















    No response



    Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are foundational areas of study and expertise for green jobs, not only because STEM occupations are relatively more likely to be impacted by greening trends [1], but because green jobs overall tend to require a higher degree of technical and quantitative skill.

    Green jobs in Minnesota also require slightly more experience than the overall population of vacancies. Areas where employers were looking for work-related experience included project management, HVAC and refrigeration, EHS (management of the environmental health and safety functions), product development, and product commercialization.

    Eleven percent of green vacancies required a license. The types of licenses most commonly required included commercial driver's license, professional engineer license, and boiler operator license. Fifteen percent of green vacancies required a certification including wastewater operator certification, CFC [2] refrigerant transition and recovery certification, NATE (North American Technician Excellence) HVACR certification, OSHA hazardous materials training certification, EIT (engineer In training) certification, and project management professional (PMP) certification.

    [1] Almost one-third of green vacancies were in STEM occupations. 
    [2] HVAC technicians need to take chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerant recycling training to limit release of ozone-depleting substances. The course is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency according to the requirements of Section 608 of the Clean Air Act. 

  • Skills, Knowledge Requirements, and Workforce Gaps for Green Vacancies

    Read the summary below or download the entire Chapter Eight from the printed report.

    Skills and Knowledge
    Green positions were most likely to require technical skills (66 percent of green jobs) followed by math skills (65 percent). Supervising (20 percent) and project management (21 percent) skills were also important.

    Technical skills cover a wide spectrum of activities, including operating, monitoring, repairing, troubleshooting, quality control analysis and product design. Technology design (cited as important for 13 percent of green vacancies) is essential for developing new green products and for finding gaps in performance between green and non-green products.

    Although not all green job vacancies required advanced math, most required at least basic quantitative skills to perform analytical or operational tasks, including recording expenditures, preparing drawings and specifications, operating programmable logic control tools, and collecting and analyzing data. Advanced math skills were needed for statistical analysis or scientific and engineering calculations.

    Soft skills that green employers are looking for include the following:

    • Learning: Since green technologies evolve rapidly, employers are seeking motivated, life-long learners capable of continuously acquiring and applying new knowledge.
    • Communication: Most frequently cited skills are the ability to collaborate effectively with others, the ability to communicate within multidisciplinary and multi-functional teams, and the ability to develop strong relationships with both internal and external customers.
    • Problem Solving: Examples of green activities requiring high degrees of problem solving are lean process improvements, remediation work, and all R&D activities.
    • Persuasion: The ability to influence change and handle conflict effectively as well as coordination and negotiating skills.

    While skills are not inherently green, some types of knowledge are, for example, a chemist versus a green chemist. About 44 percent of all estimated green vacancies required mechanical knowledge and/or skills, followed by science knowledge (29 percent), especially important for environmental conservation jobs.

    Legal knowledge (27 percent) encompasses knowledge of environmental policies, regulations, and permitting processes.

    Sales knowledge in green jobs is often based on technical knowledge of the product and the development of long-term relationships with the customer to identify new market opportunities and customized solutions.

    Construction knowledge was most often required for work in energy efficiency, including roofing, building inspection, plumbing, and installation of geothermal heat systems.

    Workforce Gaps 
    Despite the lingering effects of the recession on the job market, more than a quarter of the green vacancies were reported as hard to fill by employers. Nine out of 10 cases of hiring difficulty were caused, entirely or in part, by lack of experience.

    The second most frequently reported hiring difficulty was lack of skills, knowledge, or abilities. A shortage of applicants with the required formal degrees, certifications, or licenses accounted for 28 percent of hard-to-fill cases.

    Employers reported the most hiring difficulties in the following occupational groups:

    • Engineering (40 percent hard to fill)
    • Business and financial operations (40 percent)
    • Life and physical scientists (33 percent)
    • Maintenance and repair (33 percent)
  • Green and Green-Enabling Technologies

    Read the summary below or download the entire Chapter Nine from the printed report.

    Minnesota has firms that possess technological strengths in areas with broad potential applicability to green purposes, including:

    • Biochemistry 
      Biopolymers, plastics made of biomass, and green chemistry products including personal care and cleaning products.
    • Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology 
      Coatings, nano-materials for photovoltaic solar panels, thin films and adhesives for semiconductor applications.
    • Renewable Energy 
      ind, biodiesel, geothermal and solar. Combined with renewable sources, distributed generation (on-site, decentralized energy generation) has the potential to heavily supplement larger utility scale energy production in the future.
    • Waste Treatment and Recovery 
      Composting, fermentation, methane digestion, gasification, and pyrolysis of biomass as well as incineration. Outputs include electric and thermal energy, biofuels, and syngas. Significant new applications for waste recovery systems show potential for growth in Minnesota.
    • Energy Generation, Storage, and Distribution 
      Advanced batteries, energy conversion, power management, and data storage solutions. Work on the smart grid is also happening in Minnesota although implementation could be decades away.
    • Wireless and Control Technologies 
      Green-enabling technologies that are embedded in a wide variety of green products from control instruments for monitoring greenhouse gas emissions to smart meters that allow utilities and consumers to track energy consumption in real time and make more educated decisions about energy use.
    • Transportation Technologies 
      Manufacture of exhaust filters manufacturing, alternative fuel vehicles, and emissions-reduction engine technologies.

    Occupations most likely to need an upgrade in skills and knowledge to keep up with evolving green and green-enabling technologies are scientists, engineers, maintenance and repair technicians, technical sales representatives, and business operations specialists.

    For example, a training development specialist might be responsible for training the sales force in the energy-efficiency technologies embedded in an HVAC system, while an engineer might evaluate the feasibility of new waste conversion technologies to help a local municipality prevent waste from going into landfills. On-the-job training in new technologies is the tool preferred by employers to train their workforce in the specific green component of the job.

    Innovative green companies face the same set of hurdles that hold back any new technology.

    • Capitalization is difficult especially for startups caught in the double crunch of financing a manufacturing facility and moving to large-scale commercialization.
    • Investing in green product performance improvements can be risky and costly, especially when newer technologies do not yet have the consumer support that more conventional technologies have.
    • Proving the effectiveness of green product features is difficult in the absence of broadly recognized, objective, and reliable metrics that customers can understand and use to compare products.

    Throughout the 2009 recession and its aftermath, private sector firms reported green job openings in industries like scientific research and development and manufacturing, sectors that were particularly hard hit by the recession. This stands as remarkable evidence of the source of economic resilience and renewal green activities can represent for Minnesota.

  • The Future of Green

    Read the summary below or download the entire Chapter 10 from the printed report.

    Over the study period, October 2009 to June 2011, green vacancies grew an average of 30 percent, compared to 31 percent for all vacancies. Fifty-four percent of green vacancies were newly created positions rather than replacement openings, an indicator of the emerging nature of the green economy. In contrast, only 28 percent of future projected openings in Minnesota from 2009 to 2019 will be newly created positions resulting from economic expansion.

    Following is a discussion of the growth potential in Minnesota for each green sector based on employer responses to interview questions, in depth interviews and secondary research.

    Energy and Resource Efficiency 
    This sector is the most promising in terms of job creation. Investments in energy efficiency save money over the long term. As consumers become more educated about the benefits of energy efficiency, either through marketing efforts of companies or other sources, demand will continue to increase.

    Because the pool of existing houses and facilities needing insulation and other energy-efficiency upgrades is large -- and retrofitting work is labor intensive and often locally sourced -- there is strong potential for sustained job growth, even while construction of new homes remains depressed. Moreover, building energy codes in Minnesota are relatively more stringent than those in other states.

    Recycling and Pollution Prevention
    The shift in emphasis from end-of-pipe treatment methods to prevention of environmental problems, as well as increasing raw material costs, are likely to increase demand for workers in this sector. LEAN production methods is another potential source of job growth. Finally, the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances has growth potential in Minnesota.

    Natural Resource Conservation
    Growth in this sector will be driven primarily by deepened public awareness of the connections between human and ecosystem health. This will lead to job growth in conservation planning, land and forestry management, spatial inventory and the monitoring of natural resources.

    Environmental Compliance
    As national and global environmental challenges become more complex, new regulations may be introduced, prompting companies that compete nationally and internationally to integrate localized regulatory regimes.

    At the same time, market-based approaches that reward higher performance and penalize pollution and waste will grow, creating a need for centralized business functions dedicated to sustainability planning, corporate social responsibility reporting, and green supply-chain operations.

    Renewable Energy
    Regulatory and policy framework will continue to play an important role in the future development of this sector.

    Minnesota’s stringent renewable energy standard continues to push the state toward wind and other renewable sources of electricity. However, the intricacy of the permitting process for the installation of wind farms has not facilitated growth in this sector. Moreover, further infrastructure and technology development is necessary to make electricity from renewable sources price-competitive.

    Pollution Control
    Rather than net job growth, this sector is likely to experience an increase in workforce skills (and inevitably wages) as remediation work becomes more challenging and licensing and certification requirements become stricter.

    New environmental regulations, especially greenhouse gas emissions policies, could create demand for experts to oversee pollution monitoring programs and install pollution monitoring equipment.

    Cleanup and remediation work, in turn, can stimulate demand for specialized products and technologies for detecting, controlling, and testing pollution in water, air, and soil. Since some of these products are already manufactured locally, new employment opportunities in manufacturing could arise as the sector expands.

    Water Treatment and Conservation
    Minnesota appears to lag behind in this green activity area, making future growth likely. Some workforce shortages are expected in wastewater treatment operations and facility engineering design as both the workforce and the infrastructures are aging.

    Further, any land use activity must now take into consideration water resources both above and below the surface. The implementation of best practices can employ, among others, engineers, project managers, and land surveying professionals.

    A Final Point 
    A discussion of growth in the green economy cannot be complete without acknowledging the dynamic and diffuse nature of the sector. The greening of the world of work is unfolding quietly but steadily.

  • Conclusion

    Read the summary or download the entire Chapter 11 from the printed report.

    Like every research project, this study offers a static picture, a snapshot in time, that is subject to change. This is even more true in the context of the green economy, where the concept being measured – high environmental performance – continues to evolve as technologies improve. When today’s best environmental solutions are surpassed by cleaner ones, some of today’s green jobs may not be quite so green. 

  • Research Methodology

    Read the summary below or download the entire Chapter One from the printed report.

    The green jobs research used Minnesota’s ongoing statewide Job Vacancy Survey (JVS), follow-up telephone survey, in-depth interviews, and secondary research to study green jobs throughout the state.

    Research Timeline
    Data was collected over four JVS survey rounds: October to December 2009; April to June 2010; October to December 2010; and April to June 2011.

    Job Vacancy Survey 
    The JVS sample was increased to 12,000 for each of the four rounds, with an over-sample in pre-identified potentially green industries. The survey instrument was changed to include the five green categories. Each position that was identified as potentially green either by the employer on the survey or because it fell into a potentially green industry, was selected for follow-up.

    Follow-up Phone Survey
    Analysts conducted follow-up telephone interviews with employers to confirm the environmental activities of each position and to gather qualitative information on education level, skill and knowledge requirements, and to learn whether employers faced difficulties finding qualified candidates for the position. The response rate for the follow-up interviews was 76 percent.

    In-Depth Employer Interviews
    These were used to fill out areas where the information from the phone survey was determined to be insufficiently detailed or complete. Key employers who were willing to be interviewed were identified through the phone survey and other means.

    Determining the Greenness of Particular Positions 
    To determine the degree to which jobs were directly or essentially related to a green product, green service, or green process, the following factors were considered:

    • Job title
    • Job duties
    • Degree to which duties fell within green subcategories
    • Percentage of time spent in green activities
    • Employer perspective
    • Organizational context

    Data Analysis
    Data from each survey round were aggregated and scaled to produce estimates representative of Minnesota's labor market by planning region. Interview data were passed through a series of quality reviews and coded according to categories that emerged from field data collection in an ongoing iterative process. Finally, qualitative survey data were linked to corresponding quantitative survey data and comprehensively analyzed.