Updated: Monday, 18 Oct 2010, 6:52 PM CDT
Published : Monday, 18 Oct 2010, 4:43 PM CDT
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Thanks to the sunshine, 904 West near downtown has taken on a new life. A former apartment complex was reconstructed and "grown" into a multi-use building using solar power - and workers in the burgeoning industry of solar labor.
The first ever US Solar Jobs Census Report was released Monday by the non-profit environmental advocacy group Environemental Texas . The report predicts a 26% rise in solar job employment by next year.
"And that rate of growth is higher than the rate at which fossil fuel jobs are being lost, and is much faster that the general economy," said Robert Ressler of Environment Texas.
Developers who specialize in environmentally sound buildings used local rebates and incentives to fund a new condo and office building downtown. And they also used money from the Obama administration's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus bill.
Some argue that stimulus money isn't working for the American economy. But the developers here disagree, saying the current administration has opened the doors for more awareness about green jobs - making it easier to collect on special incentives and grants.
"Obama's raising the awareness of solar. Bringing it back to the table. In itself, that has a beneficial effect." said panel installer and Austin small business owner Stan Pipkin .
The Solar Foundation said the state of Texas has over 64-hundred solar related jobs, and Texas is the 3rd top state for job creation so that puts Austin in the perfect position to make solar opportunities into solar realities.
Another reality is that small businesses benefit the most from solar job creation. Putting up solar panels often takes the know-how that only small local businesses possess.
"How's the design of the building? How it's supposed to be angled? What's the best as far as the utility company? And things like that, that are involved. Local is always better and Austin's great about being local." Ressler said.
Environment Texas said the forecast for solar job growth is sunny, and they said the fact that a national census is needed to look at the numbers critically for the first time shows that solar power is indeed taking the green the industry by storm.
The multi-use building is slated to open next week.