Special Report: Going Green
For Job Market, Green Means Growth
This field is so new, it’s tough to label those who practice it. Bio-mimicry is a new branch of scientific research that uses Mother Nature as a guide to solve engineering problems. For example, Australian company Biosignal uses seaweed as a model to develop technologies that repel bacteria rather than kill them.
Renewable Fuels Engineer/Biologist
The financial rewards associated with the development of renewable fuels are driving much of the business community’s investment in the environment. As long as this money keeps coming in, there will be a need for engineers who can develop more efficient wind turbines and solar panels, and biologists who can develop cleaner–and cheaper–biofuels.
In 1999, as the dot-com boom reached new heights, environmental journalist Joel Makower launched an online publication covering business and environmental interests: two areas he believed would become more connected.
Smart bet. The tech bubble burst, but Makower’s publication, GreenBiz.com, boomed. Providing news and analysis, it’s the flagship publication for Greener World Media, a for-profit company he created last year with associate Pete May. “As the greening of business expands, it is filtering into every aspect of business,” from procurement to marketing to human resources, says Makower.
According to Kevin Doyle, president of Green Economy, a Boston-based firm that promotes an environmentally healthy workforce, the green industry in the United States in 2005 was about $265 billion employing 1.6 million people in an estimated 118,000 jobs. This information was adapted from the Environmental Business Journal, he says, and does not include the organic industry.
Green businesses have also been growing at a rate of about 5% annually during the last three years, Doyle says. Two particularly hot areas are global carbon credit trading, which doubled to $28 billion from 2005 to 2006, and construction and services associated with ”green buildings” that meet industry standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council. Today, the green building industry is worth $12 billion; 10 years ago, it was unquantifiable.
The greening of industry is creating a constellation of new careers, and they’re not your everyday forestry professions. Many of them are environmental twists on old professions, like law, or in Makower’s case, journalism. Others are engineering careers tied to research in renewable technologies like wind energy and ethanol production. For instance:
— Emissions brokers: In a market economy, credits to emit greenhouse gases can be traded on an exchange, and brokers facilitate the deal. If the U.S. ever moves to a mandatory trading system, expect this field to boom.
— Bio-mimicry engineers: This new branch of science uses Mother Nature as a model for solving engineering problems. For example, Atlanta’s Sto Corp. created a self-cleaning paint that repels dirt whenever it gets wet, just like the lotus leaf does.
— Sustainability coordinators: Corporations from AstraZeneca to Wal-Mart are now employing managers to oversee the economic and environmental components of company efforts.
— Green architects: With an increasing focus on energy-efficient buildings, a growing number of architects and developers are getting certified to become specialists in green design.
Corporations assume that at some point in the future, governments will put a price on waste, says Doyle. So it’s better to invest now in clean technologies than to lose money if new regulations come into play. “People want to get ahead of the game,” he says.
Conversely, companies see new revenue streams in green technologies and social responsibility. Goldman Sachs, for example, has invested heavily in the wind industry. Earlier this year, Tyson Foods and ConocoPhillips jointly announced plans to make diesel fuel from chicken fat. And Silicon Valley venture capital firms, like Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, are shoveling money into the development of clean technologies.
Universities–particularly business schools–also see opportunity. Schools such as Stanford, the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina and the University of Michigan offer joint M.B.A./environmental science masters degrees. Derrick Bolton, director of admissions at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, says many students are taking positions with corporations that have a commitment to the environment.
“They’re what I call the ‘and’ generation,” he says. “They don’t want to make money or support the environment. They want to do both.”
Students in Michigan’s dual degree program are encouraged to intern with both a non-governmental organization and a business while in graduate school. “Students coming in are very aware of the sustainability program,” says Rosina Bierbaum, dean of the School of Natural Resources and Environment at Michigan. “It’s really just a matter of time before we’re going to start valuing carbon and valuing pollution.”
Makower’s advice to students pursuing a green job is to learn all they can about business. The most exciting things are happening in product design, research and development, manufacturing, and buildings and grounds. “If you go into the environmental part of a company, you become ghettoized,” he says.
But what if you’re no longer in school? Where do you find a green job?
The Web site of Business for Social Responsibility (bsr.org), a group that helps companies navigate sustainability issues, is a good place to start. GreenBiz.com also contains a job board. Others are ecojobs.com, which includes a broad array of positions from conservation to engineering to international opportunities. Greenjobs.com focuses on the renewable fuel industry.
Makower, who survived the dot-com implosion, says the green boom is no bubble. There’s a proven market, government backing and corporate buy-in. His take: Expect green business to grow even more over the next decade, and a new generation of green careers to blossom with it.
The discovery of RNA interference, has revolutionized the field of 1) ___ biology and is leading to powerful genetic medicines. It is a fundamental mechanism for controlling the flow of 2) ___ information and has led to a whole new area of biology with great medical application. The Fire-Mello research team [won Nobel prizes for this] discovered that they were able to 3) ___ certain genes in a cell’s DNA by using two strands of RNA molecules. This prevented the genes from being 4) ___. Dubbed RNA interference (RNAi), the finding has become an extremely useful research tool, because it allows genetic researchers to “knock-out” specific genes, observe the consequent disruptions, and so determine exactly what the gene does. It is being used as a genome-wide tool, to search thousands of genes in a cell and screen for their 5) ___. The technique has already revealed genes responsible for muscle problems and 6) ___. A byproduct of the discovery of RNAi was the finding that although cells in the human body only contain one strand of RNA, they do have micro-RNA, which are tiny sections of RNA that can act a little like double-stranded RNA and also silence the activity of certain genes. Experts believe the body uses micro-RNA in its 7) ___ response. It has been discovered that a mutation in one of these micro-RNAs caused diabetes. Researchers are using RNAi and micro-RNA in 8) ___ development, hoping that by shutting down genes that cause disease they will be able to cure diseases such as cancer and HIV.
ANSWERS: 1) molecular; 2) genetic; 3) silence; 4) expressed; 5) function; 6) diabetes; 7) immune; 8) drug