Are Green Planning Jobs Receiving Federal Funding?

April 15, 2009 at 12:05 am Leave a comment

dsc_1294-1Penned by Nick

This afternoon I received the following question from a reader: “I am an urban and regional planner with over 30 years public and private experience in the industry. I have had my own consulting company since 1986. Many sources are saying this is one job that will flourish in the new green economy. I am seeing a lot of civil and other construction projects receiving stimulus funding but not many so called “front-end” planning type projects. Am I missing something?”

Full disclaimer: I am not a public policy expert. Exactly where federal funding will go is still to be determined. That said, it appears that right now cities are leading the way in pushing green planning projects.

It Starts with Policy

Like most business endeavors, the economics determine the viability of these projects. Green building projects are typically highly dependent on local/federal incentives. Building a green skyscraper? You may be able to receive tax breaks for using local builders/suppliers. Looking to preserve open space in your area–there may be local easements of incentives that make the plan viable.

Indeed, in Los Angeles, a recent push to green all government buildings erected before 1978 is poised to create huge green job growth (http://greenbiz.com/news/2009/04/09/la-building-retrofit-boost-green-jobs).

From Talk to Action

We place a lot of people in jobs. To date, we’ve only helped a couple urban and regional planners into jobs. The reality of the situation is that there are few jobs far between right now for these roles. Despite the focus on sustainable systems design, urban planners are all to rarely consulted on for large-scale developments. The few firms that are bringing them on staff typically do so on a consulting/contract basis at first.

Thoughts on Next Steps

Regional planning projects typically involve local authorities. If you haven’t already sat down with your local representative, schedule a meeting and ask them what’s coming down the pipeline in terms of large-scale development. You might specifically want to ask about new industrial zones that are being created to support emerging green businesses, such as cleantech practices. Water issues are also pressing in the western US–ask about water shed restoration projects, and how those might affect long-term development.

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