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What is a Green Job?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has created a definition of green jobs that is based on economic activity and does not consider job aspects unrelated to the work itself, such as wages, union membership, benefits or career ladders. In specifying green goods and services, BLS has identified whether a good or service has a discernible positive impact on the environment or natural resources conservation. Some goods and services may have both a positive and a negative impact. BLS has not attempted to assess the net impact. Broadly defined, green jobs are jobs involved in economic activities that help protect or restore the environment or conserve natural resources. These economic activities generally fall into the following categories:

  1. Renewable Energy: Research on and development, production, storage, and distribution of energy (electricity, heat and fuel) from renewable sources, including hydropower, wind, biomass, geothermal, solar energy, tidal energy, hydrogen fuel cells, and other renewable sources.

  2. Energy Efficiency: Research on and development and implementation of energy conservation technologies and practices, including production of energy efficient products, cogeneration, and increasing energy efficiency of production processes, distribution, construction, installation, and maintenance.

  3. Greenhouse Gas Reduction: Research on and development and implementation of technologies and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through approaches other than renewable energy generation and energy conservation. Includes generation of electricity from nuclear sources and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in electricity generation from fossil fuels.

  4. Pollution Reduction and Cleanup: Research on and development and implementation of technologies and practices to reduce the emission of pollutants and reduce the emission of pollutants and hazardous waste from the environment.

  5. Recycling and Waste Reduction: Research on and development and implementation of technologies and practices to collect and recycle materials and waste water.

  6. Agricultural and Natural Resources Conservation: Research on and development and implementation of technologies and practices to reduce the environmental impact of agricultural production and improve natural resources conservation, including reducing use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, soil and water conservation, sustainable forestry, land management, and wildlife conservation.

  7. Education, Compliance, Public Awareness and Training: Activities to increase public awareness of environmental issues; activities to develop and enforce environmental regulations; and, providing training in the application of "green" technologies and practices.
These economic activities result in the production of green goods and services. BLS has defined these to include four types:

  1. Direct green goods and services: A good or service that is produced specifically for the purpose of protecting or restoring the environment or conserving natural resources. (Examples include pollution control equipment and weatherizing buildings.)

  2. Indirect green goods and services: Selected goods and services not included in 1 above that are produced for another purpose, but when produced, consumed or scrapped have a favorable impact on protecting the environment or conserving natural resources relative to other goods or services generally used for the same purpose. (Examples include electricity produced from renewable sources, non-polluting dry cleaning services, hybrid vehicles, and mercury-free batteries.) BLS is considering using Federal product ratings or standards, where they exist (such as USDA Certified Organic and Energy Star), to determine which goods and services to include in this category.

  3. Specialized inputs: A good or service that is a specialized input to production of a direct or indirect green good or service included in categories 1 and 2 above. (Examples include USDA-approved fertilizers for organic crops, wind turbine blades, and mass transit rail cars.)

  4. Distribution of green goods: Services that specialize distributing green goods included in categories 1,2 or 3 above, including: Transportation and warehousing services, wholesale and retail trade services, rental and leasing services, and restaurants and food services.