Energy efficiency employed 2.25 million Americans in 2017 who manufactured, designed or installed energy-efficient products certified by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program or installed according to Energy Star guidelines, according to the recently released U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER). That includes manufacturers of glass and windows, as well as glaziers and installers of other fenestration products.
The report, which was produced by the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) in partnership with the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), examined employment trends in four sectors: energy efficiency; electric power generation and fuels production; transmission, distribution and storage; and motor vehicles.
About 1.3 million jobs are in the construction industry, a decline from 2016. However, energy efficiency jobs in manufacturing, trade and professional services all increased. Advanced and recycled building materials and insulation technologies, which includes glass, windows and doors, also supported a significant amount of employment in construction and manufacturing — about 350,000 jobs. Roughly 200,000 are in construction and about 75,000 are in manufacturing.
Energy efficiency employment was projected to have a growth rate of nine percent through 2018, the highest of the four sectors studied. Construction employers expect energy efficiency job growth of 11 percent by the end of 2018, while manufacturing will grow 9.9 percent. In all, the energy efficiency sector added 67,000 net jobs in 2017.
According to the report, construction firms in the energy efficiency sector saw an increase in the number of workers who spend at least 50 percent of their time on energy efficiency-related work, rising from approximately 797,500 in 2015 to nearly 1.024 million in 2017. Energy efficiency professional services, such as architects or product designers, added 63,000 jobs. Manufacturing jobs producing Energy Star-certified building materials and other products rose by 9 percent, or roughly 27,000 jobs.
Finding qualified labor remains a major problem. In the energy efficiency sector, 60 percent or more of employers reported at least some difficulty in hiring.
In all, about 6.5 million Americans worked in the energy and energy efficiency sectors in 2017, according to the USEER. That’s an increase of about 2 percent or 133,000 jobs, and it represented nearly 7 percent of all new jobs added across the country in all employment sectors.