The first comprehensive survey of Illinois’ clean energy industry found that 96,875 people currently work in the clean energy sector of the state’s economy, a figure that surpasses the state’s combined total of real estate professionals and accountants (according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security). A new interactive website showcases the survey results and will serve as an educational resource about clean energy jobs in Illinois:

The Clean Jobs Illinois survey was conducted by BW Research Partnership, a national leader in workforce and economic development research. It was commissioned and developed by Clean Energy Trust in partnership with Environmental Entrepreneurs, The Environmental Law & Policy Center and The Natural Resources Defense Council.

The study defines clean energy jobs as those pertaining to energy efficiency, renewable energy, electric or hybrid vehicles and greenhouse gas management. The survey’s employment statistics are supported by profiles of Illinois professionals working in areas including building efficiency, advanced battery manufacturing, wind energy, smart grid meters and biofuels. The survey and supporting materials are available at

The report paints a clear picture of the growing economic impact of clean energy in Illinois. The state’s clean energy workforce is large enough to fill Soldier Field one and a half times over and employs more people than many Fortune 100 companies including Apple Inc. (81,000 total employees) and Royal Dutch Shell (87,000 total employees).

While the renewable energy sector of the clean energy industry contracted in 2013 in part due to policy challenges, all clean energy sub-sectors predict strong growth in the coming year. Forty percent of Illinois clean energy businesses surveyed also reported that they plan to hire more workers in 2014, at a pace that equates to a job growth rate of 9 percent.

Key finding of the study include:

  • At projected growth rates, the Illinois clean energy industry will add its 100,000th worker in 2014.
  • Sixty-two percent of clean energy businesses in Illinois are primarily focused on energy efficiency, which includes low-energy lighting, heating and cooling controls, energy automation systems and smart grid technology.
  • Companies working in renewable energy – including wind, solar and geothermal energy – made up 21 percent of the clean energy businesses in Illinois.
  • Firms working on hybrid and electric vehicles are the fastest growing sector of Illinois’ clean energy economy. While these businesses currently make up only 5 percent of Illinois clean energy companies, the sub-sector expects to grow by 10.5 percent in 2014.
  • Illinois’ clean energy sector offers opportunity for qualified workers. The top job categories of clean energy jobs are engineering and research (21 percent), installation and maintenance (30 percent) and professional services (21 percent). Companies reported that they have difficulty hiring qualified engineers (software and mechanical), welders and installers.
  • Businesses reported that Illinois’ public policies affect their ability to grow. Maintaining a strong Renewable Portfolio Standard was a top concern for Illinois clean energy firms.

Survey Methodology:

Clean Jobs Illinois is the most comprehensive study to date of Illinois’ clean energy industry. The survey methodology is closely aligned with the methods used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to generate employment estimates. Information was collected from 1,599 Illinois firms. The survey has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.38 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval.

Rather than rely on economic models or accounting estimates, researchers at BW Research Partnership placed more than 27,000 phone calls and sent 9,000 emails to collect the survey data. The results count only those workers who have clean energy-related jobs and work at organizations that are directly connected to the clean energy industry. This narrow definition was critical to prevent over-counting jobs that are only marginally connected to the industry.

About the Survey Partners:

Clean Energy Trust (CET) fuels clean energy innovation in the Midwest. A Chicago-based non-profit, CET helps launch, fund and grow Midwest clean energy companies to ensure a more prosperous, sustainable future for generations to come. It does this through direct investment, commercialization assistance, mentorship, access to its broad partner network and the promotion of a supportive clean energy community and business climate.

Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is a national community of business leaders who promote sound environmental policy that builds economic prosperity. It is an independent, nonpartisan resource for understanding the business perspective on environmental issues.

The Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) is among the nation’s leading public interest environmental law advocacy organizations, with a focus on the Midwest. ELPC develops and leads advocacy campaigns to improve environmental quality and protect natural resources.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment.


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