There are many such positions right here in Southern
Maryland: Heating and air-conditioning technicians who
install geothermal systems in homes and businesses;
electrical engineers and electricians who install solar
panels; and plumbers who help connect energy-efficient
wells and pumps to homes.
Jumping on the bandwagon for environmentally friendly
technologies could not only position many laid-off new
home construction workers to jump on a new boom, but
could allow businesses to convert their focuses and find
niches that accommodate current trends and new
environmental regulations, local businesspeople and
"We hear so much about green jobs these days but many
don't know what that means. These jobs already exist in
Southern Maryland. It is our contention that many don't
realize that these are basic construction jobs," said
Pete Johnson, field organizer of the Maryland League of
Conservation Voters Education Fund. "Clean energy jobs
are both blue collar and white collar jobs — steel
workers and engineers, electricians and designers."
The federal Energy Independence and Security Act,
signed into law in December 2007, authorizes $125
million annually for "green-collar" jobs training for
positions such as engineers and hazardous materials
cleanup, for example.
Clean energy technologies like wind, solar,
geothermal and biofuels are among America's fastest
growing sectors and building and retrofitting for energy
efficiency is another area of green job employment for
an estimated 800,000 construction jobs if homeowners,
school boards and businesses invest in renovating their
buildings to become environmentally friendly, Johnson
Buildings are responsible for 48 percent of all
greenhouse gas emissions annually, according to the U.S.
Energy Information Administration. Seventy-six percent
of all electricity generated by U.S. power plants goes
to supply buildings.
Take Jim Deal of Huntingtown, who is a general
contractor and electrician. After new home construction
fell apart this year, Deal decided to convert his
business focus to renewable and alternate energy for
homes and businesses and is banking on public and
private investment in such initiatives to pay the bills.
"Since new construction in Calvert County is gone, I
decided that with the green energy solar and wind wave,
they needed electricians," he said. "I wanted to study
what part of that I could get involved in and find a
niche and bid on some work. It's just a matter of time
before the governments provide funding and grants so
there'll be more buying. Hopefully, that trickle-down
effect will eventually reach me."
"While there are many specialized lines of work that
take special training and skills based on environmental
knowledge, most green jobs are jobs American workers
already do," Johnson said.
For example, machinists and sheet metal workers
construct and make parts for windmills and then truck
drivers transport the parts.
"Currently, we import 70 percent of our windmills and
parts. We could be making those here at home with
blue-collar manufacturers who desperately need the
work," Johnson said.
Electrical engineer Richard Schmidt decided nearly 10
years ago he wanted to jump on new, environmentally
friendly technologies, his daughter and employee,
Shannon, said. He started Solar Tech Inc. in Hollywood
and around 2003 the business focused on installing
solar-powered electrical systems in homes and commercial
properties. The company employs five people on a job,
including master electricians and plumbers.
"He really wanted to do it because he wanted to do
something better for the environment and not have to pay
annually and monthly for an electric bill," he said.
"People are getting concerned about their electric rates
rising. Most people are really concerned about the
environment. They want to do something different."
Schmidt said more interest in green products means a
market will be created for new technologies that could
be built into homes and energy benefits would actually
make resale homes more marketable and valuable. Such a
movement could help employ many more in green-collar
Great Mills resident Debbie Dunlap said her $20,000
investment in a geothermal heating and air system
recently, which uses warmer temperatures underground in
the winter and cooler temperatures underground in the
summer to make heat pumps more efficient, is already
paying off and she's spending the hundreds of dollars
she saves each month to purchase other things. She
didn't wait on state grant money, which had already run
out for the year, to do so.
"I wish there was more out there to encourage people
to invest; that's good for the economy and lessens our
dependence on foreign oil. I had no clue what geothermal
was a year ago," she said.
Dunlap said she called half a dozen contractors and
found it wasn't hard to find a servicer for the
geothermal system. She considers herself and the
"If you ask 10 people what a green job is you'll get
10 different answers," said Andy Moser, assistant
secretary for workforce development in the Maryland
State Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation at a
conference recently, emphasizing the need for the state
and local counties to build things that are
energy-efficient with environmentally friendly
For some companies, going green is more about job and
business retention, rather than finding a new niche or
Chaney Enterprises, a concrete company based in
Waldorf, recently introduced Drain-Crete, a type of
concrete mix that allows water to pass through, in part
to accommodate a new way of thinking about building
The Storm Water Management Act of 2007 will take
effect in 2009 with regulations that require developers
to use practices that allow a certain amount of land to
remain pervious, meaning that rainwater can penetrate
through to the ground and prevent runoff, reduce stream
channel erosion, pollution, siltation and sedimentation
and local flooding. "It changes the way we look at
stormwater management in new construction and
modifications to existing sites. All of a sudden, the
old way of doing things is the bottom of the list. We
really feel that we've been laying the groundwork so
we're ready for when those regulations kick in," said
Steven Tripp, a Chaney spokesman. "As engineers start to
work with the new regulations, it will really take off.
For us green isn't really job creation, it's job
retention. If we're not moving this, we're not going to
be in the business very much longer. It is a full-on
tidal wave now. You're either surfing on top of the wave
or under it. Green has got to be a part of the way we do
"Green means renewable, plain and simple," said Budd
Gray, CEO of Bio-Mass Stoves in Callaway, which features
stove models that allow home owners to heat their homes
by burning wood pellets and other renewable sources.
"Anything that's renewable and reusable, low-carbon
footprint and does not contribute to global warming is
Gray said he is unsure of the number of people his
industry employs but said it's growing. In St. Mary's
County, he employs up to 12 people to help install the
biomass stoves and perform service work.