Saving energy creates more new U.S. jobs than generating it, according to a new report that identifies energy efficiency as the largest and fastest-growing segment of the energy sector.
The 2.25 million Americans employed across the energy efficiency industry in 2017 were "twice as many ... as all fossil fuel sectors combined," and energy efficiency accounted for half of the 133,000 energy industry jobs added last year, advocacy groups E4TheFuture and Environmental Entrepreneurs said in the report, published Sept. 6.
Employment figures cited in the research derived from a separate jobs report the National Association of State Energy Officials and Energy Futures Initiative published in May 2018. That report identified 1.9 million U.S. jobs in power generation and fuels in 2017. Of that, 1.1 million were in traditional coal, oil and gas segments, while 800,000 were in renewables, nuclear and "low-emission" natural gas.
More than half of energy efficiency jobs in 2017 were in construction and repairs, while "professional services" such as architecture, engineering and research and development accounted for 20%, and manufacturing provided 14%. On a technology basis, almost half of all energy efficiency jobs in 2017 involved heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment, while efficient appliances and lighting accounted for nearly a quarter.
Consulting firm BW Research Partnership crunched the data for both reports, relying on U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics. The latest report provides more granular detail on energy efficiency jobs, including a state ranking and breakdowns by technology and supply chain. It also includes a call for federal and state policymakers for efficiency funding and incentives.
"We have long known that energy efficiency is a major source of jobs, and by conservative estimates, about one in every hundred U.S. adults now works in energy efficiency," Steve Cowell, president of E4TheFuture said in a news release. "Efficiency is also a key strategy for meeting multiple policy objectives. It saves money, improves health, lowers carbon emissions and creates local jobs that cannot be outsourced."
California is the top state for energy-efficiency employment, with 310,000 jobs in 2017, according to the report, followed by Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois.