This piece was originally published in the April 2017 issue of electroindustry.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL)
Without question, the American economy and our workforce are evolving. Technology is changing at lightning speed, and competition is becoming increasingly global. To keep up with these changes, American workers are constantly seeking new education, certifications, and opportunities to advance. For many, this evolution sometimes creates uncertainty and anxiety, but I believe it also creates huge advantages.
Historically, the United States always has risen to the challenge of bringing the world new inventions, ideas, and better ways of living. This ingenuity is particularly on display in our energy efficiency sector, which grew by six percent and added 133,000 new jobs in 2016, according to the Department of Energy (DOE) in its 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report.
Today, 2.2 million Americans work in energy efficiency jobs including construction, manufacturing, installation, and repair; that is more than a third of the entire U.S. energy workforce. Employers told DOE that they expect this growth to continue, estimating their industry will add another 198,000 jobs by the end of 2017. I am particularly proud that in my home state of Illinois nearly 90,000 people work in energy efficiency, the majority of them at family-owned or small businesses.
Beyond creating jobs for our nation’s engineers, electricians, manufacturers, and construction workers, the energy efficiency industry is helping businesses meet their bottom lines and lowering costs on energy bills for families nationwide. While the individual products may include more efficient lighting or an upgraded HVAC system, the real product the industry creates is the ability for our entire economy to be more productive. Energy efficiency improvements and technologies are creating more comfortable, productive, and efficient homes, schools, and businesses across the country.
Given that the federal government is the single largest consumer of energy in the world, in my work as a member of Congress I focus on writing legislation to improve efficiencies in our federal data centers and to encourage government agencies to take advantage of the energy and money saving benefits of Energy Savings Performance Contracts. Just as a family that upgrades to an ENERGY STAR® dishwasher or invests in a more efficient air conditioning system saves money, the federal government saves taxpayers’ money through energy efficiency.
Energy efficiency jobs are truly jobs for our nation’s future. This industry is improving our economy and environment by allowing us to accomplish more by using fewer natural resources. With this strong industry, and the continuously growing and evolving workforce it supports, our country is ready not only to improve the efficiency of the appliances, electronics, and building systems we use today but also to prepare us for future technologies and ideas that the next generation of American innovators undoubtedly will bring.
We have a lot to look forward to, and it starts here with energy efficiency.
Congressman Adam Kinzinger serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He also serves on the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade; the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology; and the Subcommittee on Energy and Power.