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Would a Green Job by Any Other Name Still Improve the Planet?

Recently a visitor to our Clean Jobs Index left a comment asking a very good question: Why are companies like oil and gas companies included in our “clean” jobs listing? We wanted to share our answer with everyone:

There are two main divisions of jobs in the sustainability sector – those that are “hard green” and for which you can find listings on GreenBiz, TreeHugger, etc., and those industries that are in the process of “greening” (whether they want to or not). When we compiled our jobs data sources for the Clean Jobs Index, we chose to use the official Bureau of Labor Statistics definition for green jobs in order to align with as established definition rather than creating our own definition that might skew the data. The United States Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics Green Jobs web site has the following definition of Green Jobs:


  1. Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources. Or,
  2. Jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.

(Full PDF explanation available here.)

We recognize that the BLS definition of “green job” encompasses jobs that are “greening” as well as those that are “hard green,” thus many that are listed may not fit your definition of green/clean – or mine.

The bottom line is that all of us—individuals and corporations—have a long way to go toward sustainability. But corporations, some of which now dwarf many countries in both economic power and political reach, are one long lever by which we can move the world. Some of our former Ecotech Institute students are helping clean up some very dirty industries, and that makes us proud.

“Perhaps the time has come to cease calling it the ‘environmentalist’ view, as though it were a lobbying effort outside the mainstream of human activity, and to start calling it the real-world view.”
Edward O. Wilson

Kyle Crider is Program Chair at Ecotech Institute and Education Corporation of America. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree with a double-emphasis in Urban Planning & Policy Analysis. He is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional, Neighborhood Development (LEED AP ND). He is currently in the Interdisciplinary Engineering Ph.D. Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of Ecotech Institute or Education Corporation of America. Email Kyle at