(Photo credit: dunktanktechnician / Flickr)

From small business owners to factory workers, many people in the Midwest are finding work in energy efficiency.

Over the past two decades, regional investments in efficiency have soared from about $1.5 million to more than $1.5 billion per year.

That’s according to a report by the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance. Executive director Stacey Paradis says that the industry’s growth has created new opportunities for local entrepreneurs.

“Those are the people that are starting small businesses that are in their community, and they’re doing retrofits,” she says. “They’re doing weatherization. They’re doing insulation work or windows work and all that. So they’re in those local communities, and they are a lot of growing new small businesses.”

Some new jobs are also in manufacturing. Paradis says efficiency projects often require insulation, windows, or other new products.

“A number of those are produced here in the Midwest,” she says. “There are corporations all across Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota. These are blue collar jobs that are continuing to grow in the 21st century, and those are important parts of the economy that can’t be under appreciated.”

So improving energy efficiency can grow the local economy and new jobs, as well as protect the climate.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.