Days before yesterday’s inauguration, the hoopla here in Washington, D.C., had reached a frenzied pitch. News reports told of the crush of crowds expected for the historic event and warned local residents like me of road blocks, school and medical center closings, and security measures for public transportation. The round-the-clock hype was enough to scare thousands of people away from the event.
In the days leading up to Jan. 20, there also was a lot of hype about the new president’s commitment to environmental issues. Earlier this month, Obama asked Congress "to act without delay" to pass legislation that included doubling alternative energy production in the next three years and building a new electricity "smart grid." He said he also plans to modernize 75% of federal buildings and improve energy efficiency in 2 million homes to save consumers billions of dollars on energy bills.
This all sounds great, but what exactly does it mean for the home building industry, especially green builders? Most pros and industry experts I talk with have no idea.
“Sounds like a good idea,” they tell me. “Let me know when you find out.”
Even my 9-year-old daughter sports a “Let’s All Help President Obama Make the World Green” pin on her backpack. She thinks it sounds like a good idea, too.
A recent New York Times blog provided the most specific insight so far as to what this plan might entail. It called attention to a study last year by researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst that lists job opportunities in a variety of clean-tech fields.
In the building arena, the opportunities include electricians, heating/air-conditioning installers, carpenters, construction equipment operators, roofers, insulation workers, carpenter helpers, construction managers, and building inspectors. Other possible candidates for green job initiatives noted in the study are project managers and energy auditors as well as a variety of manufacturing jobs aimed at making more efficient appliances, the blog said.
So it would seem that green building pros, especially remodelers, will be on the front lines of Obama’s plan for economic recovery. Now that he is finally ensconced in the White House, let’s hope that the new president’s commitment to green jobs turns out to be more than just a catch phrase. Green builders—and all Americans—are eagerly awaiting his leadership.
Jennifer Goodman is Senior Editor, Online for EcoHome.