by Brant Ingalsbe

Have you ever thought of what it means to have a green manufacturing job? Does it mean that you construct solar panels or wind turbines? Does it mean you are a manufacturer’s sustainability manager or recycling coordinator? These are some examples of green jobs in manufacturing plants, but anyone working in a production plant can help make its operations greener.


The BlueGreen Alliance Foundation’s GreenPOWER program teaches incumbent and unemployed manufacturing workers on all levels the skills they need to identify ways to “green up” manufacturing operations. This means that after taking GreenPOWER, every manufacturing worker — whether front line or CEO, sustainability manager, or engineer — has the skills to make suggestions for how to make their daily jobs greener. As one manufacturer explained, “A lot of organizations will have somebody come in and do an energy audit. We'd rather have the ideas come through the grassroots, because a lot of the time an auditor doesn’t see what an operator sees and what they deal with every day.”


GreenPOWER’s six, eight-hour interactive workshops — which can be taken individually or as a “Green Specialist” package — were developed with Purdue University and address a variety of topics, including:


  • Energy management: Learning to manage energy usage and invest in energy efficiency.
  • Pollution solutions: Using innovative methods to improve and reduce air pollution.
  • Green chemistry: Applying green chemistry principles and techniques to all facets of business.
  • Waste management: Examining the importance of considering entire product life cycle and cutting waste by using the leading methods of waste reduction-Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
  • H2O conservation: Demonstrating principles and practices used in the operation and design of water systems.
  • Sustainability into practice: Translating a vision into a continuous and sustainable program.


GreenPOWER’s training efforts — started approximately a year ago — are already paying off. The program has already trained over 1,100 Minnesota workers and has helped hundreds of unemployed or dislocated workers find jobs. In addition, 75 GreenPOWER graduates have received certification as a Green Manufacturing Specialist from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers after they passed SME’s exam.


To learn more about how we are helping manufacturing companies become more profitable, work more efficiently, and help to sustain our environment, watch our video:


Can’t see the video? Watch it on YouTube.


The video includes interviews with people like the director of operations at Pentair Technical Products who explains, “Any training we get from GreenPOWER will more than ten-fold pay for itself. Any small improvement compounds over years and years and years, so anything we can save today will actually enhance our profitability as we progress through the years.”


In partnership with schools, employment service providers, unions, and manufacturers, GreenPOWER hopes to help make every manufacturing job in Minnesota a green job so that we are prepared for the new, green economy.


Brant Ingalsbe is the director of the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation’s GreenPOWER program. Prior to joining the BGAF, Brant led and managed programs focusing on economic development for the low-income and community reinvestment, including serving as the initiative director for Minnesota’s Governor’s Workforce Development Council’s Shifting Gears Grant.