All those workers installing solar panels on New York City co-ops and condos, or replacing steam radiators with electric heat pumps, or performing other clean-energy retrofits are not only helping the environment. They're helping the economy.
The New York metro area is leading the U.S. in the creation of clean-energy jobs, ahead of Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and other major cities, according to the eighth annual Clean Energy Jobs America report released Thursday. And, Crain's reports, New York State is third behind California and Texas in producing green jobs, according to the report's data, which was published by non-partisan, San Francisco-based business group Environmental Entrepreneurs or E2.
"Because of policy," Uchenna Bright, the northeast advocate with E2, tells Crain’s in an interview," I think, our city and state is up there leading with not just the technology, but the workers to get it done.”
In 2022 New York had 166,014 workers in the clean-energy sector in a variety of fields, including renewable energy, storage and grid, energy efficiency, biofuels and clean vehicles. The figure has steadily grown from 152,789 in 2020. Currently, the bulk of the sector’s workforce in New York is in energy-efficiency, with a whopping 126,008 jobs, the report shows.
The New York metro region far and away makes up the lion's share of the state’s clean energy jobs employment with 157,562 positions in the sector as of 2022. Three of the boroughs — Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn — are among the top 100 counties for green jobs in the U.S., according to the report. That comes as little surprise to Bright, who points to the New York metro region as the nation’s epicenter for building decarbonization.
“Especially in New York City, buildings, particularly existing buildings, are one of our big challenges,” Bright says. “Decarbonization and energy efficiency are still very much a huge market within the city, and there’s still a lot more work to be done there.”
More than two-thirds of New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings. To reduce those emissions, the city passed Local Law 97 in 2019. The law targets carbon emissions in most buildings larger than 25,000 square feet, including co-ops and condos, whose owners must ensure their buildings comply with carbon caps beginning in 2024 — or face hefty fines. Carbon caps will be increasingly strict in 2030 and every five years after until 2050.
Bright also points to green targets set by the state Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019 as setting a model for the rest of the country on renewable energy and working toward a carbon-free economy. More recently, the state Legislature passed the all-electric buildings law that will require most new buildings in New York to use electric heat and appliances, instead of planet-destroying fossil fuels. The benefits of that shift are predicated on an electric grid that becomes increasingly powered by such renewable sources as solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower.
“All of these things are models that help direct the country,” Bright says. “And I feel like New York is really leading the way in terms of planning for the long-term.”
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