Clean, Green and Moving Forward

An increasing number of homeowners in Nevada have something to smile about every month – their power bills. This is especially true during the heat of summer, when air-conditioning drives energy use sky high. The number of solar-powered homes is steadily growing, signs that the industry is heating up as the price of renewable energy continues to come down. Overall, interest in green building, energy efficiency and clean power has never been greater. The paradigm shift that was once but a glimmer in the eyes of a few is gaining momentum while transforming our homes, our communities and our lives.

New companies are starting up and many established companies are shifting toward sustainable strategies to remain competitive in the changing economy. Practically any business can benefit from implementing green practices or by providing greener options to customers. Nowhere is this more evident than the greening of the Las Vegas Strip, as more and more major hotels adopt green programs to improve their bottom line.

Many have asked me how to get involved and more specifically, how to get a green job. Even with the shift we’re seeing, there is a delicate balance between economic potential and hard reality. Businesses try to anticipate future trends but may not be ready to hire quite yet. The key is to be ready when the opportunity presents itself. The good news is that there are more educational and training opportunities than ever before.

With so much information available to anyone with a computer, it’s not hard to get started. Organizations like the American Solar Energy Society (ASES), the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), or the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) are just a few of hundreds of quality online sources of good information and ideas. For example, the current issue of Solar Today, published by ASES, features several excellent articles focusing on jobs in the solar industry. Also, ASES maintains a GreenStart Jobs Board.

Degrees and certifications are also available. Online courses are becoming more prevalent. The College of Southern Nevada (CSN) and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) offer various classes, from beginning solar energy concepts, to green building for contractors, and advanced degrees in renewable energy engineering or architectural design. There are also industry-specific training programs available, especially for solar.

Southern Nevada will host the National Clean Energy Summit 3.0 on September 7th at UNLV’s Cox Pavillion. This year’s theme is “Investing in American Jobs” and will include high-level industry leaders, policy experts, investors and public officials. If you want to be involved in the new green economy, this event will provide a big-picture overview of current and future trends. It’s also a great networking event that can help you position your business, plan for future home energy upgrades or map out a new career strategy.

Don’t overlook the many local organizations that focus on sustainability issues. Many offer regular programs and special events designed to educate our community about the benefits of green buildings, solar energy, electric vehicles and more. One of the absolute best ways to kick start the process of finding a green job is to become an active member, attending meetings and volunteering with the organization. You’ll make new friends with similar interests, some with considerable expertise and experience. This type of networking is invaluable.

Local groups that meeting regularly include the Southern Nevada Group of the Sierra Club where next month’s program on September 8th is “Protecting Desert Biodiversity,” with Rob Mrowka, President of The Center for Biodiversity. Rob will discuss how he and his solid team of biologists are protecting a range of species such as Desert Tortoises and their habitat while siting large projects such as the proposed Large Solar Thermal Array south of Las Vegas.

Solar NV is a non-profit that promotes clean, renewable energy in Nevada. They provide educational meetings every month and have some special events that are coming up (see for details). First is their annual Renewable Energy Leadership Award Banquet and Silent Auction on Saturday, August 28. This year’s award recipient is Commissioner Rebecca D. Wagner of the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada. The recognition of her work is well-deserved.

Solar NV also produces the Southern Nevada Solar Home Tour every year. It has become an event that many Southern Nevadans look forward to and is part of the American Solar Energy Society’s National Solar Tour, now in it’s 15th year. This year’s tour will take place on Saturday, October 2nd. Learn how local Nevadans are living green with solar energy.

And that takes us full circle, right back to those fortunate and visionary homeowners who thank the sun every time their power bill arrives in the mail. Green living (and working) can provide a lot to smile about.

Additional Resources:


  1. This is a fantastic article. I’m always looking for valuable resources to show clients and the construction community, and your article is absolutely worth sharing!

  2. Phil Davis says

    Hey Steve, you are right on the money. We got solar two years ago and it was the best investment we’ve made. It’s paying for itself, and adding value to my home unlike my neighbor who put in a swimming pool that he never uses that has become an endless money pit. Hopefully more and more people will recognize solar as being an incredibly wise investment. Thanks for your columns and great advice.