A few words on the economy   Michael C. Lazarchick, PhD  February 10, 2009

Part 1


The new administration clearly is suggesting a dramatic shift in federal policy. We are in uncharted territory and there will be money available for those that best produce jobs and those who show movement into the emerging green economy. The president has been clear that he wants to reduce the dependence upon foreign oil and tend to the needs of the infrastructure of this country.


There are many definitions of what is the green economy. Van Jones in his popular book The Green Collar Economy talks about energy, transportation, water, waste and land management. In a blog, Carl Burkett adds green buildings to the list.


Renewable Energy

Solar Energy

Wind Energy

Geothermal Energy

Wave Energy

Bio-Gas & Fuel Cells


Green Buildings

Residential & Commercial Assessment

Energy Efficiency Retrofits

Water Efficiency Retrofits

Green Products & Materials

LEED Construction


Clean Transportation

Fuels of the Future

Electric & Hybrid Cars

PEV's (personal electronic vehicles)

Public Transportation

Rideshare & Flex Programs


Water Management

Water Recycling

Grey & Rainwater Systems

Low-water Landscaping

Water Purification

Stormwater Planning


Waste Management

Recycling & Municipal Waste

Salvage - 2nd Hand

Toxics Remediation

Brownfield & Superfund Cleanup

Sustainable Products - Packaging


Land Management

Organic Agriculture

Habitat Conservation/Restoration

Urban Forestry & Parks

Reforestation & Afforestation

Soil Stabilization


Geographic Information System (GIS) analyst made the top ten on the Green Jobs List of the Environmental Careers Organization of Canada. I mention it because our local community college is offering a course of study. GIS was not in my vocabulary before a conversation with the college president at a recent WIB meeting. 


I like what the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) Background Paper on Green Jobs stated in 2008. http://www.unep.org/labour_environment/PDFs/Green-Jobs-Background-paper-18-01-08.pdf


  Greater efficiency in the use of energy, water, and materials is a core objective. The critical question is where to draw the line between efficient and inefficient practices. A low threshold will define a greater number of jobs as green, but may yield an illusion of progress. Given technological progress and the urgent need for improvement, the dividing line between efficient and inefficient must rise over time. Hence, “green jobs” is a relative and highly dynamic concept—in other words there will be “shades of green” in employment.”


Indeed, “greenwashing” is a fairly new term applied when marketing comes into play without a substantial set of corresponding actions. And of course there are websites that will measure the sincerity of each claim to being Green and clearly there is a movement to be on the green bandwagon. http://www.greenwashingindex.com/   is one of those sites and implicit is the message I see, “Buyer beware.”


On the good side I place companies like The New Belgium Brewing Company in the Green category and not just because they have been on the bandwagon since 1989. From their website they display values to which I applaud.   

Which brings us to ownership

As this tasty amber named Fat Tire grew in popularity, Jeff and Kim knew they’d need help. Enter Brian Callahan, an aspiring brewer and New Belgium’s first employee-owner. By giving Brian a vested interest in the company, Jeff and Kim did, “what seemed like the right thing to do.”

And all the employee owners today thank them for doing what came naturally.

Ownership is now awarded at one year of employment. And just when you think it can’t get any better, they roll in your very own one-year anniversary cruiser bike. It’s pure bliss.

It’s my company

If it were your company, what would you do? Look for ways to be less wasteful, be more efficient, recycle and reuse? Yep. It’s infectious. Once you start thinking of ways to make your company better, you can’t stop.

In 1998, a unanimous vote by employee owners switched New Belgium to wind power. The first wind powered brewery in the United States, thank you very much.

And, like all responsible business owners, it’s important to know your bottomline, barrels, and books. Meet New Belgium’s practice of open-book management: a policy of fiscal transparency throughout the company that encourages a community of trust and mutual responsibility.

It’s something good. All agreed.        

Of course I have heard the rhetoric from the champions of oil and the call to drill at home. And I have listened to the ethanol debate. Despite “green marketing,” I have heard that the cost is still too high, that we use as much energy to produce ethanol as we get and that gas mileage drops. All this while world hunger is further exacerbated by a corn shortage. It was a joy to my heart to watch the video about Valcent’s closed loop algae growing system that is suggesting a real 21st century alternative.   Companies Making Biodiesel Fuel from Algae

EMSI (Economic Marketing Specialist Inc.) in A Look at “Green Occupations suggests that it is results, not the type of efforts that define work in the new economy.  

 The consensus among those economists who address these issues is that the designation “green” turns not on the specific tasks associated with an occupation, but rather on the specific outcome of an occupational effort.

Accordingly, green jobs result in green investments. Green investments aim to drive households, companies and governments to act in more “environmentally stable” ways (e.g. reduce pollution, increase energy efficiency, curb carbon emissions, improve air, soil and water quality, etc)      http://www.economicmodeling.com/

So the building designer, the accountant who get financing, the electrician and carpenter who do the installation and the helper who does caulking and insulation all get to place “green” in front of their title if the building is solar powered. Obviously many people already have the technical skills necessary to participate in the green economy. It is the shift in consciousness that needs to fully take place.  

Visiting our local One Stop Career Center we have people worried about paying their mortgage and feeding their family. They are scared, looking for answers. I cannot afford to be one of the individuals spreading negativity. I feel the need to understand the changes that are taking place and do the research necessary to help both employers and employees move in the directions necessary to participate in the new economy.  Everyone sees the economic crises. Our environmental issues are glaring.  We have mismanaged dreadfully and the clock is ticking.  Fortunately we have a president who has me believing that he knows the meaning of integrity.