Inside Rensselaer
* Creating Policies for Green Jobs
Professor David Hess (at right above) and a team of eight graduate students from several U.S. universities have developed the first national study that identifies the best practices and policies for states and cities focused on businesses that create green jobs.
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Creating Policies for Green Jobs
Today, as state and local governments seek to integrate environmental and energy policies with job creation, a first-of-its-kind national study has found that only a few states and cities have policies in place to create green jobs.

Developed by a Rensselaer professor and a team of eight graduate students from several U.S. universities, the full report, Building Clean-Energy Industries and Green Jobs, was released last month.

“Today’s policy-makers are increasingly driven by a new question: how can environmental and energy policies be configured to create new businesses and generate green jobs with maximum impact and minimal expenditure?” said David Hess, professor of science and technology studies.

Hess’ research focuses on the social and policy studies of science, technology, health, and the environment, with an emphasis on the role of civil society and social movements. His interest in localism is prompted by his earlier research on the relationships between social movements and industrial innovation.

“There are many studies of state and local government energy policy that focus on policies that drive ‘demand’ for energy efficiency and renewable energy products,” Hess said. “This research report is different because it looks at the emerging suite of ‘supply’ policies needed to create the businesses that will provide green jobs.”

Hess received a $249,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to support a 10-week graduate training seminar and additional research sponsored by the organization’s Science and Technology Studies Program. Eight graduate student assistants were recruited from around the country to participate in the seminar. Based on a survey of 30 state governments and 25 cities, the study identifies 15 best practices and policies for each of the states and cities.

The study explores the full range of green jobs, from weatherization jobs to manufacturing to research, development, and business start-ups. It also focuses on policies that help to promote five clean-energy industries: bio-fuels, smart-grid and buildings technologies, solar, transportation and energy storage, and wind.

According to the study, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Ohio are among the states with a strong set of policies to support green-business creation.

“We have some of the best students of the next generation of environmental studies and policy that have worked with me to develop this study,” Hess added. “Our research provides successful examples of existing initiatives that may offer other state and city governments potential ideas that they may consider when implementing their strategies in order to connect energy policies with job creation and business development.”

The graduate students involved in the project are: David Banks, Joseph Datko, and Logan Williams from the science and technology studies department at Rensselaer; Bob Darrow from the science and technology studies department at Virginia Tech; Rebecca Gresh from the sociology department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Matthew Hoffman from the sociology department at Loyola University; Jaime Ewalt, Ph.D. candidate in the chemistry and environmental science department at New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Anthony Sarkis from the environmental studies department at Antioch University New England.

Throughout the summer and into the fall, Hess and several of the students will be presenting their findings to state and city governments and at advocacy organizations.

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Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 4, Number 12, August 27, 2010
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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