Daniel Villao is statewide director of the California Construction Academy, a project of the UCLA Labor Center. The California Construction Academy recently published the book Beyond Green Jobs: Building Lasting Opportunities in Energy Efficiency, which makes the case for why green jobs should provide pathways to good, accessible careers. Download the book.

What It Really Takes to Create a Green Economy

One central challenge to building a green economy is that for many, the inner workings of a key pillar of that economy — the construction industry — are a mystery. Understanding construction helps us move beyond simply creating green “jobs,” which could be temporary or even dangerous, to building a new green economic sector that generates permanent construction careers.

Construction is one of the largest sectors of the U.S. economy, with a dollar value approaching $800 billion and more than 7.2 million workers. It brings together people from all different walks of life. For community members that the economic downturn has hit the hardest — low-income workers, minorities, women, those returning from the military or from prison — construction offers a chance at a middle-class career.