Many people when asked what a “green job” is would most likely reply with something along the lines of solar panel installation or wind turbine technician and while those are certainly green jobs in the truest form, there are far more jobs that fall under the green or clean-tech industry that Vets could excel within.
Of course a vast majority of newly trained Veterans will likely seek employment in these more well-known fields with 3-6 months of hands on technician training, there also exists green employment opportunities for higher trained and more specialized Veterans as well. This article will speak to those opportunities vice the more traditional and well-known routes. Taking a far less restrictive view of “green jobs” quickly illuminates the possibility for consulting work along green building, green transportation and also green process management.
Within the realm of green or clean-tech process management we find an advancing field of LCA or Life Cycle Assessment, which in essence moves to provide for consumers the missing components of information in regard to the impact that a manufactured product and its components and all of the industrial processes necessary to create this product, have on the environment. By stripping a product apart to each component used, the process for accumulating and acquiring the raw materials, the manufacturing of each component and the assembly of these components, the distribution and also the disposal impact of this product, consultants are able to provide for companies and consumers alike a detailed and never before seen look at the true environmental, social and ethical impacts of the products we buy each day.
Many companies since the start of the 2000s have moved to incorporate some form of environmental PR and marketing program, whether it is LEED certifications for their headquarters buildings or Energy Star stickers on products, and this will continue into the foreseeable future. Being able to educate and consult for companies on what certifications are worth the most in terms of cost benefit analysis as well as aligning products with new higher visibility ratings that take into account the impacts that everything from the overseas working conditions for the employees that mine the raw materials to the “cradle to cradle” recyclability of the product will open up numerous opportunities for employment.
Many Veterans come out of the military with at least some exposure to the Lean Six Sigma and Six Sigma thought processes and in general the military is well versed in streamlining processes such as supply chain management, information management and communications and network structure. With this being said I believe there are numerous Veterans leaving the military with adequate training (or could be given the green component to add to their understanding of process management) to provide much-needed consulting in the way of product development process “greening.”
As information in regard to a product’s environmental impact increase, so will the marketability of a more truly environmentally friendly product. The ability for large complex data sets to be simplified down into easy to identify point-of-sale purchase decisions will force innovative companies to take a hard look at the “true” green nature of their products and not hide behind the “green-washing” that dilutes many consumers now from trusting these eco-labels any more than the “no trans-fats” label on a box of donuts.
As market pressures continue to push companies to make their entire product cycle more green and not just a single aspect of it without regard for the remainder of impacts, it will be available for those specialized in process management, green building and green transportation to provide for the public and private sectors the information on the real impact of the products and services that we look to still have without the same level of negative impact on the planet we live.