Energy + Water Efficiency Jobs

Poverty Reduction Strategy no. 3

Invest in making buildings more efficient while creating jobs. Many efforts of this type are underway in cities around the country, but scaling those efforts up and targeting the jobs toward people currrently living in poverty could create significant benefits.

Make buildings more efficient through a large-scale, one-stop initiative to retrofit homes and businesses

Retrofitting homes and businesses can reduce energy costs by 20 percent or more, enabling cost of living savings in addition to creating jobs.

Action: Cut energy and water use in buildings with efficiency improvements.

Additional Benefits: Lower expenses for businesses and families of all incomes, reduce carbon emissions, create jobs, and prevent the need for more power plants. A 20 percent reduction in energy bills can mean saving hundreds of dollars a year for a household and thousands of dollars a year for a business.

Stakeholders: Workers, city officials, community-based organizations, energy and water utilities, building occupants

Where it’s been done: Elevate Energy's Multifamily Energy Efficiency program provide free energy efficiency upgrades to qualifying properties. As of November 2018, the nonprofit created 668 jobs, retrofitted over 42,000 units, helped many owners save up to 30 percent on utility and maintenance costs, and saved 65,444 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents.

  • Best Practice #1

    Clean Energy Works

    Portland, OR: Portland's Clean Energy Works pilot program aligned renewable energy, energy savings and job creation. The program helped finance up-front costs of energy efficiency upgrades for homeowners through long-term and low-interest loans. To ensure equity for disadvantaged and underrepresented populations in job and economic opportunities through the implementation of the program, the City, with a diverse group of stakeholders, developed a community workforce agreement.

    The program created employment for more than 400 workers, including 48 new hires, at average wages of nearly $20.34 per hour. Also, more than $6 million was paid to contractors, 584 low-interest loans were provided, 20 percent or greater reduction in energy consumption was achieved, and 1,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions are reduced annually.

  • Best Practice #2

    Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

    Los Angeles, CA: In 1992, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) implemented water rate reform that incorporated conservation pricing and tiered water rates. A 2018 white paper found that LADWP avoided roughly $11 billion in costs from 1990 to 2016 resulting in customer bills that are nearly 27% lower today than they would have been without efficient rates and conservation efforts. Customers reduced water use from 189 gallons per capita per day (gpcd) to 106 gpcd from 1990 to 2016.

    Between 2009 and 2011, the City of Los Angeles invested over $1.2 billion in water use efficiency projects. A study by non-profit Economic Roundtable found that the investments stimulated 16,579 total person-years of employment (8,654 direct person-years of employment, 3,016 indirect person-years of employment, 4,909 induced person-years of employment). For every $1 million invested, water-use-efficiency projects create 12.6 to 16.6 jobs with mean annual wages that range from $33,286 to $52,828. The investment stimulated an additional $534 million in indirect sales and $718 million in induced sales.

  • Best Practice #3


    Huntsville, AL: The AlabamaWISE program in Huntsville helps local homeowners reduce their energy costs through energy efficient upgrades. The program targets homeowners of modest means and partners with a Credit Union to offer two-year low-interest loans to pay for the upgrades. The program also includes workforce development, renewable energy, and local economic development components. The pilot program created over 30 direct jobs, over $1 million in energy savings, and over $8.5 million of homeowner investment in energy efficiency upgrades. Overall, the program has upgraded over 5 million square feet of building space, saved over 23 million kWh, and helped over 1700 homeowners save an average of 20% in energy (representing $2.3 million savings in energy costs).

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