The first step toward profiting from the green economy is appreciating its scope and identifying the ways that existing skills, connections, and businesses can dovetail with it. Taylor, for example, didn’t radically depart from his core business. His cost structure, team members, and services remained the same; he simply added the illustration of environmental issues to his existing portfolio of presentations.
There are infinite opportunities for other businesses to get a green tint as well. The clean energy segment of the green economy alone includes 68,200 businesses and 770,000 jobs in all 50 states, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C., that provides grants to improve public policy, inform the public, and support community service. The organization’s 2009 report The Clean Energy Economy counted actual jobs, companies, and investments nationwide within five categories: clean energy, energy efficiency, environmentally friendly production, conservation and pollution mitigation, and training and support. That’s just one-half of 1% of all U.S. jobs, but from 1998 to 2007 the sector grew at more than double the pace of total jobs, and it’s received roughly $12.6 billion in venture capitalist funding in recent years.
Estimates of green job growth indicate broad interest in this sector. IHS Global Insight, a leading forecasting company, predicts 2.5 million new green jobs by 2018 and 4.2 million by 2038, including renewable power generation, residential and commercial retrofitting, renewable transportation fuels, and positions in engineering, legal, research, and consulting. A report from the United Nations Environment Programme (www.unep.org), which works to implement the U.N.’s policies and plans for underdeveloped countries, estimates that job growth in energy alternatives alone could exceed 20 million worldwide by 2030.
The green economy is even larger if one includes not just companies that supply clean energy products and services but also businesses that consume clean energy in an effort to be more environmentally responsible. “I don’t like the term ‘green economy’ because that makes it sound like a fad,” says Carolyn L. Green, co-founder and managing partner of EnerGreen Capital Management, a Radnor, Pennsylvania-based private equity firm. “I’m interested in new technology and existing companies to improve or clean up their operations. We also look for successful companies that we can expand into newer, clean technologies or energy production.”
Unlike the dot-com boom before it, green has staying power. “Individual dot-com companies didn’t last because they didn’t focus on something sustainable—there was a lot of hype,” Green says. Her firm focuses on late venture and growth stage companies
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