Green-collar jobs—jobs dedicated to saving energy, producing renewable energy, or reducing pollution—offer a 3-for-1 solution: they provide economic stability, move our economy away from expensive fossil fuels, and reduce our climate-warming pollution.

But what do green jobs look like? And how do we get more of them? Sightline’s primer, Green-Collar Jobs: Realizing the Promise , answers those questions. Below are excerpts from four profiles in the primer, describing people working to make a green-collar workforce a reality in the Northwest.

Greg Jordan working in basementGreg Jordan: A stimulus success story. Federal spending is providing a massive boost to clean energy projects–a short-term investment for long-term job creation. Out of a dozen program graduates, Greg is only one of two who were able to quickly land a job in a tough economy. It wouldn’t have happened without a renewed attention and commitment to energy efficiency. “Without the stimulus and the funding, I don’t think I would have been given this chance.”

Deb Conklin of the SustainableWorks programDeb Conklin: Spreading the gospel of energy efficiency. Energy efficiency upgrades face several challenges: upfront investments, trusted contractors, and lack of information among building owners. Deb is part of a Spokane organization called SustainableWorks–a coalition of churches, unions, and nonprofit organizations interested in boosting energy efficiency in local neighborhoods and commercial buildings.

Michael McCormick working on an old windowMichael McCormick: Stoking demand for green jobs. Supplying workers and stoking demand are two needed ingredients for building a green-collar workforce. Michael recognized the energy inefficiencies throughout our communities and went back to get trained in energy auditing. He’s eager to start retrofitting homes and businesses to save energy, improve their performance and make them healthier.

Ben Uskoski replacing a light fixtureBen Uskoski: Rental retrofits pay off for electricians. Innovative strategies like green leases help unite the interests tenants and landlords. As the Northwest develops financing solutions for energy efficiency retrofits, the demand for green-collar works will grow. Michael was in a right-time, right-place moment. Not only did the 30-year-old find a job for himself, but he landed work for eight other laid-off electricians he knew from Clark County, WA.

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October 1, 2009