Group Members:
Theresa Dietrich
Oliver Lamb
Brigida Pirraglia


In her 19th century novel, Rural Hours, Susan Fenimore Cooper observes “it is not surprising, perhaps, that a man whose chief object in life is to make money should turn his timber into bank-notes with all possible speed.” This eminent reflection continues to apply today, elucidating the seemingly obstinate and complex relationship between business and the environment. Though industrial ideologies and practices are deep-rooted, we are finally at a juncture where transformation seems possible, and even probable.

In our research project, we plan to address a deceptively simple question: ‘Why do New York City’s environment and economy need green jobs?’ We plan to take a bilateral approach to this question, examining the simultaneous possibilities of mitigating destruction to the climate and stimulating the economy. At the heart of this question is what former environmental advisor Anthony Van Jones calls “green-collar jobs” in his novel Green Collar Economy: how one solution can fix our two biggest problems. Equally important is the stimulation of the clean energy industry because “building up a domestically produced clean energy supply can provide greater energy independence and security, has notable environmental benefits due to reduced CO2 emissions, and can act as a driver for significant, positive economic growth through continual innovation” (Wei et. al.).

Our project will focus on green collar jobs as “a central strategy for advancing environmental, economic, and climate protection goals” (Van Jones, 196). We would also like to address related issues such as social justice and to examine the ways in which we can build “a green economy that is strong enough to lift people out of poverty” ( In our pursuit of answers to these imperative questions we plan to evaluate the progress of the green industry thus far, examining PlaNYC initiatives and achievements such as “leveraging open space initiatives to create well-paying green jobs.”

In order to address the vast expanse of green jobs we will organize our examination according to three major subsectors of the burgeoning industry. Beginning with Green Product Development and Manufacturing, we will demonstrate how initiatives such as green manufacturing, deconstruction, reuse, and remanufacturing have the potential to revitalize New York City’s rapidly declining manufacturing sector. Next we will explore Urban Forestry and the numerous benefits that vegetation in an urban environment can provide as well as employment opportunities within this subsector. The final subsector of interest is Environmental Monitoring and Remediation, this sector, “makes sure our aging infrastructure, building stock, and vacant land are safe and clean for future greener development by testing and cleaning contaminated land, water, and air,” (Cha and Dafoe 21).

Finally, after defining and exploring the benefits of green jobs both economically and environmentally, we plan on addressing the all-important question: ‘what is next?’ The final portion of our project will be dedicated to outlining the most immediately important and necessary steps to making a full transition to a ‘green economy.’


  • Plan NYC provided the general context to inform the political activities that surround the Green Collar industry, however the Center for American Progress provided an in-depth analysis of the Green collar industry that served as the catalyst for our further research.
  • Although there was much information about the kinds of jobs and who would provide them in the aforementioned case study, we found it was necessary to cross reference the information with sociological studies that affirmed the environmental and health benefits of these new industrial sectors.
  • Additionally, we wanted to more closely examine some specific activities of the Plan NYC initiative, and those working in conjunction with the municipal government to ensure environmental justice.
  • Table of Contents:


    Our BC Science Day Poster

    Table comparing jobs across different green technologies.


    Wei, Max, Shana Patadia, and Daniel M. Kammen.  “Putting renewables and energy efficiency to work: How many jobs can the clean energy industry generate in the US?” Energy Policy 38 (2010): 919–931.  Web.  24 Feb. 2010.

    Green Jobs Photo:

    Elliot, Brenda J. Green Jobs Image. Digital image. 1-1-1-a41.jpg., 3 Mar. 2009. Web. 6 May 2010. <>.

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