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Green Collar Jobs Initiative

The Green Collar Jobs Initiative is a cooperative effort among the District of Columbia government, for-profit entities, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions to help prepare District residents and businesses to take advantage of the growing green sector of the economy.

With the leadership of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, the Department of Employment Services, Department of the Environment, Department of Small and Local Business Development, and Office of Planning are the agencies in charge of the effort, working with partner organizations to help residents and local businesses fill the increasing demand for more environmentally sustainable construction and development.

With the passage of the Green Building Act of 2006 and several other upcoming public policy initiatives, there will be a substantial increase in the need for a green labor pool capable of filling the demand. For example, in September 2009, the United States Green Building Council reported that Washington, DC had 70 LEED-certified projects and 522 LEED-registered projects - more than any other city comparable in size in North America. 

The restoration of the Anacostia River and its tributaries, upgrades to the water and sewer system and the modernization of our public school facilities are a few of the major efforts to create a more sustainable city. Together, these and other projects are creating a larger demand for construction, building trades, environmental remediation and operations workers.

What is a green collar job?

Green collar jobs are employment opportunities in emerging environmental industries, as well as conventional businesses and trades, created by a shift to more sustainable practices, materials and performance. Specifically, a green collar job includes both lower and higher skilled employment opportunities that directly result in the restoration of the environment, increased energy efficiency, clean energy generation, the creation of high performing buildings and the conservation of natural resources.

What is the District doing about green collar jobs?

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty established a Green Collar Jobs Advisory Council to provide information, advice, and recommendations on issues related to the development of green collar jobs and enterprises. This advisory body includes private sector entities, non-profits, and government agencies.

A goal of this effort is to link existing small and local businesses with this growing market, meeting the demand for these services through District Certified Business Enterprises and First Source contracting. Additionally, there is an opportunity to provide career ladders for individuals, transforming traditionally low-skilled workers into more highly-skilled employees on a specific career path.

Another important component of the initiative is to re-connect youth to environmental employment opportunities. Working through public-private partnerships, the Green Collar Jobs Initiative will improve access to quality workforce development training and job placement for District residents who face some of the greatest challenges to full, steady employment.

Lastly, the District is setting an example for the entire region by greening its own buildings. The District, through the apprenticeship program of DC Greenworks, recently installed green roofs on two downtown District government office buildings, the Reeves Center and One Judiciary Square. The new roofs, planted with low maintenance, native species, will help reduce energy costs and reduce storm water run-off into the District’s rivers. As a result of this project, twelve young adults received training in horticulture and green roof installation through DC Greenworks.

Green Collar Jobs Demand Analysis

In February 2009, the DC Office of Planning, in conjunction with the Washington DC Economic Partnership and the DC Department of Employment Services, completed a green collar job demand analysis. For a detailed explanation of this report, select the link below.