Van Jones & His Green Ideas

9 Sep


by Tara L. Conley

Van Jones recently resigned from his post as Special Advisor for Green Jobs in The White House, but hopefully the ideas he advocated for like green roof technology will remain.

Before coming to The White House, Van Jones had been advocating for what he called “green jobs” – the confluence of two ideas; creating new jobs while at the same time building a more cost and energy efficient environment. Among Jones’ top priorities as Special Advisor for Green Jobs was to promote ‘green roof’ technology. The idea behind this type of technology is to provide energy and cost reducing benefits to residents, business owners, and surrounding neighborhoods by building rooftop ecosystem covered with living plants. The vegetated roofs add insulation, reduce urban “heat island effects” and storm water run off, and improve the overall quality of the buildings. During the summer months, planted roofs remain cooler, reducing the need for energy guzzling air conditioners. More green rooftop projects would provide employment opportunities for urban area contractors and builders, thereby creating an entirely new sector within the green industry.

Urban rooftops become cool gardens (image:

Urban rooftops become cool gardens (image:

During this past year’s Earth Week, Van Jones, along with the non-profit organization DC Green Works, were featured in The White House’s ‘Green Jobs for a Green Future’ video highlighting green roof technology.

See Video: Green Jobs for a Green Future from White House on Vimeo.

Green roofing technology is gaining momentum–particularly in the Northeast. In high density urban areas, where municipal and commercial building are ubiquitous, green roofing technology is being implemented as a cost effective means of reducing the “heat island effect.” Students and researchers are also discovering the benefits of green roofing technology. Cornell University’s Marine Program in the town of Southold on Long Island, NY is dedicated to cleaning up Long Island’s waters and restoring the area’s once vital shellfish industry. Both Cornell and Suffolk County’s Storm Water Management Program are excited about the potential of green roof technology to reduce the harmful effects of runoff on Long Island’s shellfish.

Science Coordinator Peg Dickerson, and her 5th grade science class at Cutchogue East Elementary School meet periodically in the school’s science lab to fill large, shallow planters with potting mix and specially-chosen ground cover plants, like sedum, which are tough enough to withstand the rigors of a rooftop environment. As the green roof areas expand over time, they will help the school save energy and contribute to a cleaner local environment.

Green roofing technology would also mean an average savings of 30% on energy bills. Heating oil consumers could also reap the benefits of this technology, if implemented on a large scale.

So while the country’s green future remains obscure because of the current political climate, the need for more energy efficient ideas remain clear. Perhaps, as Arianna Huffington argues, Van Jones will end up being more effective outside of the White House, unhindered by the constraints of a partisan political environment, than he was inside the White House. Whatever the case may be, the green industry will continue to need leaders and advocates like Van Jones to help to create new jobs that will contribute to energy savings, an improved environment, and economic growth.

Van Jones had been advocating for green ideas long before coming to The White House. Check out Van Jones discussing The Green Collar Economy, along with social media scholar and entrepreneur Chris Rabb, and Huffington Post contributor and environmental correspondent, Simran Sethi on Meet the Bloggers last year.



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