Green jobs for all : a case study of the green building sector in Austin, TX
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The “green jobs for all” movement aims to make “green collar” jobs – those that support families and the environment – accessible to every working man and woman. This report investigates the potential role of the green building sector in this movement in Austin, TX through a literature review and interviews with sixteen green building professionals. The findings suggest that Austin’s green building sector does appear to offer quality green collar jobs with few barriers to entry in the market. As such, it stands to play an important role in the green for all movement locally and nationally. Unlike some other sectors of the green economy, the green building sector, at least in Texas, does not appear to be limited to “eco-elites,” a.k.a., the white, wealthier Americans who tend to dominate mainstream environmental movements. Although it is not clear that the green building sector is growing the environmental movement by involving people whose demographic background is different than most mainstream environmentalists, it does appear that contractors and subcontractors who build “green” take particular pride in their work. New jobs are expanding tin the green building sector and green practices among existing trades often gives firms a competitive edge. There are many potential roles for the city to take in its support of the green building sector. Voluntary programs are the most popular on all fronts, but the case can also be made in some cases for mandates. Rating systems are essential to resolve imperfect information in the market, but rating systems using nationally standardized codes might facilitate the efficiency of real estate markets by giving appraisers and lenders a rating system they can trust.