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Numbers Don’t Lie: National Solar Employment Growing

It has become increasingly difficult to lump the entire solar industry into the “Solyndra” category since last September.  On Friday, The Solar Foundation’s 2012 Census Press Release announced that the solar industry has added 13, 872 jobs in the last 12 months, amounting to a 13.2% employment growth rate from the preceding year.  Meanwhile, the U.S. economy as a whole saw employment growth of 2.3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.   The Solar Foundation’s findings show that 1 in 230 American jobs created between September 2011 and September 2012 were in the solar industry. Partially due to state and federal efforts to incentivize solar adoption and the decreasing price of PV, solar has emerged as one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, with 119,016 Americans working in the solar industry as of September 2012. “The solar industry has grown at significantly higher rates than most other industries in the past several years, making it one of the foremost creators of new jobs in the United States,” says The Solar Foundation’s Executive Director Andrea Luecke, “Our census findings indicate that these new jobs are highly skilled in nature, including solar installation, sales, marketing and software development. These new solar industry jobs are sustainable, cannot be outsourced and play a critical role in our country’s economic recovery.” Luecke hit the nail on the head.  She uses the term sustainable to describe the jobs within our industry.  The very nature of the work requires discipline, fine-tuned skillsets, accessibility to customers, and the overarching goal of sustainability.  The long-term success of the solar industry in the U.S. rests upon this solid foundation.  The Solar Foundation’s full report is to be released on November 14, 2012 at the Clean Energy Workforce Education Conference in Albany, New York.  The Solar Foundation can then shed some light on the full implications of the data they have collected this past year.  The report will include an analysis of the factors that brought about this industry growth, the jobs created within specific subsectors, and employment growth projections for 2013.  The Solar Foundation 2012 Census Press Release:  ...

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London Olympics: The Greenest Games Ever?

Last Friday kicked off the beginning of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.  Nine years of planning went towards minimizing the carbon output of this event.  An all-encompassing goal of “sustainability” was set for the 2012 Summer Olympics.   The organizers of the event aspired to make this international event socially and environmentally considerate.   Though critics are quick to point out that the event did not meet its renewable energy target of 20%, the 2012 Summer Olympics’ holistic sustainability efforts set new standards for large-scale events to build upon.  With spectators pouring into London’s 2012 Summer Olympic Games by the thousands every day, all efforts to minimize the environmental impact of the Olympics are commendable. All ticket-holders receive a one-day pass for public transportation on the day of their event, and have access to trails in Olympic Park and reduced rates for England’s coach and train services. The goal for the Olympic’s food initiative is to produce “zero waste,” so all food packaging at the events is recyclable. This is an achievement in itself because an expected 14 million meals are to be served at the events.  Overall, the 2012 Summer Olympics aims to recycle 70% of the anticipated 8,000 tons of waste produced at the events. A great deal of planning went into the design and construction of facilities to house the Olympic Games.  Embodied carbon in the construction of buildings was a serious concern for David Stubbs, head of sustainability for London’s Olympic organizing committee. Before they could even begin building, 2 million tons of soil had to be decontaminated, as it was packed with petrol, lead, tar, arsenic, and oil.  London’s Olympic Park is now a lush park with wetlands, trees, and flowers to support biodiversity in the area. Temporary structures were built from materials that will be repurposed after the games.  The baseball arena, for example, is essentially a huge tent with steel frames, covered by PVC fabric.  The materials used for this building will be disassembled and reused after the Olympics. The Copper Box Permanent structures like the Copper Box are designed to be used for many years after the Games.  The Copper Box is home to events like handball, martial arts, and wheelchair rugby.  The structure is equipped with 88 light pipes, filling the inside of the building with natural light during the day.  The outside of this modern building is made from largely recycled copper cladding, which will corrode over time to an inorganic compound called copper patina, accenting the building with shades of earthy turquoise.  The sloped roof of the Copper Box collects rainwater for the toilets, reducing the building’s water...

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