It’s a bit old now, but this report (pdf link) by researchers at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and the World Resources Institute offers some nice supporting evidence for the role of green jobs in the economic recovery. 

They found that every $1 billion invested in “green recovery” projects, such as mass transit, weatherizing homes, and greening schools…

  • …Creates 30,100 job-years.  In contrast, traditional infrastructure investments such as roads create only 25,200 job-years per $1 billion in spending. (A job-year, by the way, is a measure that incorporates both the number of jobs created and how long those jobs last. I wish that all job-creation metrics were so clear; we need good apples-to-apples comparisons for long-term vs. short-term employment effects.)
  • …Saves $450 million per year in energy costs—meaning that the initial investments pay for themselves very quickly.  In the author’s words:  “These future savings can serve as a sort of ‘efficiency pay-go’ for government outlays today,” suggesting that if they’re done right, energy saving investments can be largely self-financing.

And in case you hadn’t heard of the Peterson Institute before, it was founded by former Nixon administration commerce secretary Peter G. Peterson—a mainstream, old-school fiscal conservative.  And the report, in my view, takes a hype-free view of the economics of saving energy.  The fact that the authors found such clear job-creation benefits from saving energy makes me optimistic that, despite recent controversy, green jobs may be an issue that can bridge ideological divides.