Greener Reality: Jobs, Skills, and Equity in a Cleaner U.S. Economy

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September 27, 2012
By: Sarah White, with Laura Dresser and Joel Rogers

Greener Reality takes stock of the green economy, looking at what works (and doesn’t) in related skill and credentialing initiatives and placing them in a broader context of human capital development, community resilience, and climate change. Defining equity, sustainability, and greater democratization as critical elements of a truly greener future, the paper considers the practical and political challenges to achieving these in the United States.


This report builds on our earlier work in Greener Pathways and Greener Skills. Below is a quick guide to its contents. If you would like a printed copy of Greener Reality, please email us.



Reality: A Brief Tour

Greener Reality pulls aside the curtains of hype and derision to show a very real, very possible, very promising greener economy, hindered in its development (and job-creation capacity) by political myopia and economic malaise. It is not a defense of green jobs, but a frank assessment of the human capital required to build a greener and more generous America.


If you only have time for a glimpse, read the Executive Summary.


For an overview of the politics of green (it’s the economy, brothers and sisters) and a wee primer on climate change, economic inequality, and accountable democracy, see the Introduction.


After a somewhat dispiriting excursion through those realities, we outline the possibility of A Greener Economy and the skills required to build it across all sectors—energy, food, water, and beyond.


To learn what’s working in the field, go right to The Cases, which explore greener jobs training experiments across five sectors: Construction, Manufacturing, Health, Power, and Water.


These are part of a chapter on Greening Human Capital, which describes the challenging political moment and the very real difficulties of workforce innovation in a period of epic economic decline. Here we offer a suite of lessons learned, together with a longer-term greener skills agenda and policy framework.


Finally, the Conclusion is a meditation on education and training for sustainability, equity, and democracy—the kind of world we’d like our children to inhabit.

Executive Summary (0.5MB)