Green jobs for sustainable careers

Education, training – important aspects of energy/green industry

IMG_4158According to the Illinois Green Jobs Survey conducted by the State of Illinois’ Department of Employment Security green jobs continue to be on the rise. Businesses and ­organizations are making sure their dealers and employees are well educated and even certified to ensure the appropriate measures are taken to accommodate their customers, whether residential or commercial. Green jobs are increasing energy efficiency, producing renewable energy, preventing pollution and best of all producing sustainable career paths.

The department added a sixth section to the survey to detail the higher education requirements of green employment. In its findings the fol­lowing are the dominating green jobs in Illinois today: agriculture and ­natural resources, architecture and construction, energy utilities and waste management, ­manufacturing, transportation and distribution, and even in university and college education.

Interestingly, some of the key ­findings of the survey revealed that more than 115,000 green jobs existed in Illinois in 2011. In addition, construction was shown to have the ­largest proportion of green jobs at 27.1 ­percent. It comes as no surprise then, that HVAC installers come in at 4.75 percent, carpenters at 4 percent, electricians at 3.6 percent and ­laborers at 3.2 percent for the occupations with the highest number of green jobs.

The survey also noted: “Skills expected to increase in demand over the next two years included those associated with the solar, wind and geothermal industries as well as energy efficiency and LEED ­certification.” Businesses ­associated with the electric cooperative industry strive to provide the necessary ­education and training to keep on top of the trends, regulations and efficiency for their customers. For example, a number of geothermal companies are leading the way in ­education and training.

Geothermal energy training

Enertech Global, based in Greenville, provides training through its Geothermal University. The curriculum is developed from Enertech’s history and current ­position in the ­geothermal heating and ­cooling ­industry.

Brendan Riley, Technical Services Manager with Enertech Global says, “We continuously work to advance our training program to give tech­nicians and sales representatives the edge in the geothermal industry. Any dissatisfaction is taken seriously, and the issue is targeted for improvement. Enertech’s Geothermal University curriculum is constantly being updated with equipment and industry information to help us raise the bar for geothermal training.”

Enertech provides training through classes and also on job sites depending on the need, and they have in–house computer-based education, as well.

For additional information on Geothermal University contact: Chris Smith, Illinois Territory Manager at 618-664-9010 or via e-mail at

Connor Company, with headquarters based in Peoria, is near com­pletion on its new training ­facility and has already offered a number of classes to dealers. The training center opened on Sept. 1, 2012. In November, Nick Lavin, Matt Sheets and Justin Carley gave me a tour of the new 4,000 sq. ft. addition. They were quick to say it was a team effort, but that Jeff Hurst, Connor Company Geothermal Product Manager, was instrumental in ­moving the project forward. Within the ­training area they have everything from tankless water heaters to geothermal units, all working units so dealers can gain real, hands-on training.

Training is delivered in a number of ways ranging from in-house computer labs to hands-on product training. Computer-based classes are offered in Connor’s Smart Classroom complete with 24 computer stations. The trainers are typically vendors or Connor Co. staff, according to Carley, Marketing Manager/Purchasing Agent at Connor.

For additional information, contact General Manager Nick Lavin at 309-681-2424 or via email at

Water Furnace also offers training for dealers, and, in fact, runs a couple of ads that boast the fact. One reads: “WaterFurnace knows that ­training matters.” The other reads “Before our dealers make a commitment to you … They make a commitment to us.” WaterFurnace requires ­ongoing ­training and education for their dealers. It’s an integral part of the business.

For additional information on WaterFurnace contact: Josh Huite at

Habegger Corporation stands firm in investing in continuing ­education of dealers and contractors in its ­communities. A few of the ­training options include Bryant Academy and Carrier University, two of the ­company’s major brands.

Industry-related associations continue to offer programs to members and associates. For example, the Geothermal Alliance of Illinois (GAOI) has its own accreditation ­program. Tests are administered annually at the Illinois Geothermal Conference and by request at other times as need warrants.

GAOI offers testing for dealer-­contractors and mechanical ­contractor, loop installation/drilling ­contractors. GAOI members can find on-line ­training programs through the ­organizaiton’s website at: Geothermal Installer curriculum was debuted at the Illinois Geothermal Conference in 2012. The 2013 conference is slated for March 12-13.

Building Performance Institute training is also offered at varying times through GAOI, and is led by Brian Kumer of Thermal Imaging Services. For additional information on ­training opportunities through GAOI, ­contact: Kristin Banks at 217-241-7924 or via email at or Executive Director John Freitag at 217-241-7973 or via email at

Electric co-op training

The Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives (AIEC) hosts a plethora of training and education in all areas of the business. From leadership to board of director training and ­management skills, Certified Key Account Executive (CKAE) ­certification, ­cooperative financial professional certificate ­programs to personal time ­management, CPR/AED and first aid training.

“One of the seven cooperative principles is ‘Education, Training and Information,’ says AIEC’s Safety/Education Services Coordinator, Mary Zitek. “Cooperative board ­members, CEOs and their staff need to be kept current on Federal and State ­regulations, and issues ­affecting their membership so that they can perform their job duties to the best of their ­abilities and also keep up with the fast pace of technology. The importance of safety training is at the top of the list, not only for the safety of the ­cooperative employees, but their members and the general public.”

Besides training for cooperatives and employees, the AIEC offers ­training and safety education for linemen. Lineman schools have been offered through the AIEC since the early 1970s. Training is led by Roger Larkin, Manager of Lineworker & Apprentice Development. Safety training is offered by Larkin, Zitek, Ken Macken, Manager of Safety & Loss Control and Safety Instructor Jim Miles.

If you are interested in ­learning more about the courses and cer­tification opportunities offered through the AIEC, contact: Mary Zitek at 217-241-7934 or via email at

Illinois Green Economy Network – a community ­college partnership

If you are looking for green job education options a good place to start is with the Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN), a consortium of Illinois community ­colleges. IGEN was created to establish and share sustainable best practices, ­promote energy efficiency and clean energy and drive growth in the green economy in Illinois.

In April 2008, IGEN (formerly known as the Illinois Community College Sustainability Network, or ICCSN) received a $490,000 start-up grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). With six centers successfully underway and a growing vision for centers on all 48 campuses in the Illinois Community College system, the IGEN founding presidents pressed for both state and federal funding to increase the number of Sustainability Centers across the state.

In October 2011, IGEN obtained a three-year, $19.4 million U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCT) grant to fund the IGEN Career Pathways Initiative. Now a group of 17 Illinois com­munity colleges are developing, ­sharing and implementing more than 30 online-hybrid associate degrees and ­certificates, which will combine classroom instruction, interactive online training, and hands-on exercises.

For more information on the IGEN community college partnership go to

 Many training programs are offered through colleges and ­universities, both degree and certificate ­programs. In ­calling your local higher ­education institution, ask about its Green Programs, which could include ­education and training on sustainability, green business, water and energy conservation, waste reduction and recycling and local and organic foods. They might offer more trades oriented courses, such as HVAC, as well. No matter what professional or ­vocational field you choose, ­education and ­training can help provide the resources and knowledge you need to succeed.

Results from 2011 Illinois Green Jobs Survey

State of Illinois, Pat Quinn, Governor
Department of Employment Security, Jay Rowell, Director

The definition of green job for the purpose of the survey is a job in which the work is essential to products or services that improve energy efficiency, expand the use of renewable energy or support environmental sustainability.

Top five skills expected to increase in demand:

1. Energy efficiency skills (3.0%)
2. Computer skills (2.9%)
3. Engineering (1.6%)
4. LEED certification (1.5%)
5. Environmental skills (1.2%)

Notable differences from the skills required for current green jobs are the additions of solar, wind, and geothermal skills and the higher placement of energy efficiency skills. LEED certification also moved up on the increasing in demand list.

Green jobs in Illinois:

115,208 green jobs existed in Illinois at the beginning of 2011
13.4 percent is the projected annual growth rate over the next two years for green jobs in Illinois
75 percent of all green jobs in Illinois fall into two categories: “Preventing and Reducing Environmental Pollution” and “Increasing Energy Efficiency”

To view the entire survey, visit We have a link to the pdf.