Some ideas are so elegant their very name is the only argument one needs. Take “green jobs.” Everyone likes job creation. And many people support taking steps to protect or improve the environment. Green Jobs. What’s not to like?
No wonder, then, that back in the mid-2000s, the promise of green jobs drove policies at the national, state and local level. The proposals all looked great on paper. One of them was the Green Jobs/Green New York program, which aimed to make homes—including those of low-income New Yorkers—more energy-efficient while at the same time training residents to join the green workforce.
As our 2016 report “Green Jobs Gone Missing” made clear, that program deserves credit for testing out some important ideas about how to finance sustainability projects. But it neither trained as many people nor retrofit as many houses as predicted, largely because the state was unwilling to spend any real money on the initiative, forcing the program to rely on projected savings on utility bills. That introduced all kinds of underwriting challenges that the effort never fully surmounted.
Our report on the topic was produced by an investigative journalism class at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, and last night, CUNY and City Limits won the award for best environmental reporting from the Society of the Silurians.
Congratulations to Jack D’Isidoro, Patrick Donachie, Maura Ewing, Rose Itzcovitz, Olivia Leach, Samuel Lieberman, Jessica Bal, Annamarya Scaccia and Brooke Williams.