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What Is Green?

With all the talk about green jobs, has anyone stopped to ask for a definition?

There's been a lot of talk about "green jobs" during the past few years, but what exactly is a green job? This website is based on research to discover what green jobs look like in Minnesota. The research findings show that:

Green jobs are those that have a direct or essential impact on a product, service, or process that results in environmental benefits.

Let's break down that definition.

A direct or essential impact means that the job duties are very closely related to the product, service, or process itself.

  • Green workers help make the product, provide the service, market a product, or facilitate a process.
  • Workers who support the business (like an administrative assistant) or "go green" at work (like recycling office paper) aren't included in the definition of a green job.

The second part of the definition means that the duties of that job must provide an environmental benefit. This can come from a product, service, or process that:

  • helps improve energy efficiency
  • creates a renewable fuel or energy
  • reuses or recycles materials
  • prevents or improves the effects of pollution
  • helps protect and conserve the environment

Here are a few examples:

An energy-efficient window is considered a green product because it helps save energy.

Water quality tests are considered green services because they help identify pollution in lakes and streams.

Green processes involve creating more efficient ways of doing things through supply chain analysis or other techniques.




Here is another way to look at it. Think about the people who might work at a wind turbine factory. There are many types of jobs in the factory, but are they all green jobs?

 

Company: Wind Turbine Manufacturer

Green product, service, or process?
YES. Wind turbine blades capture wind to be turned into electricity, a renewable form of energy.
Production Supervisor Direct or essential impact?

YES. The production supervisor has a direct impact on the production of wind turbine blades.
Verdict:

Yes. Green job!
HR manager Direct or essential impact?

NO. The HR manager has an essential role in running the company, but is not directly involved in the actual production of wind turbine blades.
Verdict:

No. This job is not green
Line Worker Direct or essential impact?

YES. The factory line worker helps to build the wind turbine itself.
Verdict:

Yes. Green job!

 

As you dive into the website, you'll find that some green jobs are quite familiar. Others might seem very foreign.

Learn about green jobs from people who are actually in them: