Cluster bucks

Creating regional clusters of green industries can boost an area’s clean energy economy as a whole, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization.

The “clean economy,” as the institute refers to it, employs 2.7 million workers in the United States. This includes workers in renewable energy, as well as waste management, green building, sustainable food production and other environmentally friendly manufacturers and services.

In Nevada, 16,578 jobs in 2010 were in the clean economy, up from 11,167 in 2003. However, that’s only 1.5 percent of all the state’s jobs. Las Vegas was one of 100 metro areas assessed in the report, “Sizing the Clean Economy,” and it was ranked 54 for the size of its green economy, with green architecture and construction providing the greatest number—2,507—of green jobs.

Regarding the clustering concept, the report said, “Establishments located in counties containing a significant number of jobs from other establishments in the same segment grew much faster than more isolated establishments from 2003 to 2010. … Examples include professional environmental services in Houston, solar photovoltaic in Los Angeles, fuel cells in Boston and wind in Chicago.”

The report also noted that, while the clean economy is relatively small, it employs “more workers than the fossil fuel industry and bulks larger than bioscience, but remains smaller than the IT-producing sectors.” It also grew more slowly than the national economy between 2003 and 2010, but job gains in newer, cleantech segments like solar PV and wind energy, were described as “explosive.”

Green jobs are also manufacturing and export intensive, according to the report. “The electric vehicles (EV), green chemical products and lighting segments are all especially manufacturing intensive, while the biofuels, green chemicals and EV industries are highly export intensive.”

These jobs represent an opportunity for low- to middle-skilled workers, as well. The average annual wage for a green job in Nevada is about $45,000, with about 60 percent of those jobs requiring little formal education.

And while the South has the largest number of clean economy jobs in the nation, the West has the largest share relative to its population.

Read the full report at