(Energy) efficiency pays: Industry is growing as N.J. employer, study finds

By Alex Wolmart
New Jersey | Sep 18, 2019 at 6:00 am

Energy efficiency is taking over the energy sector, both in New Jersey and across the country.

A Massachusetts-based environmental organization, E4TheFuture, in collaboration with the Washington, D.C-based national nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs, released a report titled “Energy Efficiency Jobs in America,” which showed energy efficiency job growth in the various states, including New Jersey.

The report said energy efficiency is the fastest-growing segment of energy-sector employment in the country, currently employing over 2.3 million Americans, including 32,206 in New Jersey.

With 25% of the state’s energy workers now employed by energy efficiency businesses, New Jersey is one of 41 states that employ more workers in energy efficiency than fossil fuels. Energy efficiency workers account for about 28% of all energy workers nationally.

Job growth in energy efficiency was more than double the national rate last year, while, in New Jersey, employers added over 2,300 jobs at a 7.1% growth rate.

The report was released Monday at the annual meeting of the National Association of State Energy Officials in Manhattan Beach, California.

“While politicians argue over the direction of our energy transition, the economic benefits of improving energy efficiency continue to unite America’s business and environmental interests,” said Pat Stanton, director of policy at E4TheFuture. “Not only is expanding America’s energy efficiency key to solving multiple climate policy goals, it is now integral to businesses’ expansion plans — saving money and creating local jobs that cannot be outsourced.”

There are now 4,500 energy efficiency businesses operating in the state and over 360,000 nationwide. About 3% of the firms in the state have more than 100 employees, 21% have 20 to 99 employees, 41% have 6 to 19 employees and 35% have 1 to 5 employees.

“We all know energy efficiency saves consumers and businesses money with every month’s power bill,” said Bob Keefe, executive director of E2. “We should also remember that energy efficiency is creating jobs and driving economic growth in every state — and doing so while also helping our environment, not hurting it.”

Energy efficiency jobs include manufacturing positions, construction jobs and professional services. According to the report, heating, ventilation and air conditioning jobs account for the most energy efficiency jobs in the state, at 18,237. Next is building Energy Star appliances, efficient windows and doors and LED lighting systems, which accounts for 7,707 jobs in the state, followed by building materials & insulation, at 2,811 jobs.

The report also claims energy efficiency jobs comprise 13% of all construction jobs in the state.

The New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island metropolitan area greatly leads the pack by accounting for 27,209 of the energy efficiency jobs in the state. The Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington area comes in next, with 5,013 of the jobs, then the Trenton-Ewing area at 1,677 jobs.

Eleven out of the 12 congressional districts in New Jersey have at least 2,000 energy efficiency jobs, while 12 out of the 40 state Senate districts and 15 General Assembly districts hold more than 1,000 energy efficiency jobs.

“State energy officials understand that energy efficiency and the jobs that come with it is an integral and important part of the overall economy,” said David Terry, executive director at NASEO. ““Policymakers at the state and federal levels will hopefully keep the size and reach of energy efficiency employment in mind as they plan for the future.”

Other notable findings from the report include that 5% of New Jersey residents employed in energy efficiency are veterans, over 3,000 energy efficiency businesses in the state are involved in construction or manufacturing and 76% of New Jersey workers are employed by businesses with fewer than 20 total workers.