The Goodwill Clean Tech Accelerator is a partnership between Goodwill and Accenture that will equip participants with employability and technical skills for entry-level jobs across the energy transition. Photo via Getty Images

A major nonprofit and a worldwide corporate leader have teamed up to advance clean tech jobs.

The Goodwill Clean Tech Accelerator is a partnership between Goodwill and Accenture that will equip participants with employability and technical skills for entry-level jobs across solar and storage, electric vehicles, heat pumps, and energy efficiency, according to a news release from the organizations.

The program launch next year in Houston, as well as in Atlanta, Nashville, and Detroit, as the two organizations announced in at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Talent Forward event. According to Accenture and Goodwill, the plan is to grow the program to 20 cities in the next seven years and train an estimated 7,000 job seekers.

"As our labor market transitions, we see important opportunities for people to move into more promising roles with better pay. It is essential that we provide the training and other support needed to ensure people capture these opportunities," Steve Preston, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International, says in the release. "The Goodwill Clean Tech Accelerator will open doors for people in an expanding industry and provide support to employers who are helping us transition to a more sustainable world."

The accelerator is targeting a specific set of advanced energy jobs — the 40 percent that don't require college degrees and and pay more than the median salary in the United States.

"The clean energy transition is demanding new sources of talent who understand clean tech and can apply that knowledge to achieve decarbonization," Manish Sharma, CEO of Accenture North America, shares in the statement. "Through the Goodwill Clean Tech Accelerator, we're proud to unlock skilling opportunities that are accessible to everyone, benefitting workers, industry and our local communities."

The program, which was co-designed by Accenture, will be run by Goodwill. Participants identified as under and unemployed individuals and accepted into the program will be compensated as they undergo the training and career placement services.

Beginning through an Accenture Corporate Citizenship investment, the accelerator is based on experience from Skills to Succeed. GRID Alternatives, ChargerHelp! and BlocPower are additional training partners for the program, with more to be announced as the initiative is scaled.

According to the facts, Houston's energy transition is moving in the right direction. Photo via Getty Images

Report: Houston's energy transition economy sees momentum, including $6.1B in financing in 2022

Houston facts

In Houston, the energy transition movement is in full effect — at least, according to the facts and figures from a recently released report.

The Greater Houston Partnership released its 2023 Houston Facts report, which analyzes the business community across sectors. The report highlights the fact that last year Houston's energy transition brought in $6.1 billion in financing from private market investments, which represents a 61.9 percent increase compared to 2021.

"Over the last five years, Houston has seen constant growth in annual energy transition investments, with a notable surge observed from 2020 onwards," reads the report.

Corporate and strategic merger and acquisition investments are what dominated the five deal types, according to the report, representing 68.8 percent of the total investment in 2022. Additionally, private equity accounted for 19.3 percent of all deals, with venture capital comprising 9.5 percent.

Source: GHP analysis of data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP)

According to Houston Facts, there are 550 Houston-based energy transition companies working in battery/energy storage, biofuels, carbon capture, use, and storage, circular economy, and other energy value chains.

The report also looked at clean energy job growth, which increased from 66,047 professionals in the Houston metro area in 2021 to projected increase to 71,305 jobs in 2022. The fastest growing type of clean energy job is within energy efficiency, a section that accounts for 68.1 percent of total clean energy employment last year, which increased 28.2 percent from 2021. Additionally, clean vehicle employment also saw a 14.7 percent increase while job counts in grid and storage and clean fuel applications declined notably in 2022, per the report.

Compared nationally, personal finance website SmartAsset recently ranked the Houston metro area as the fifth best place in the U.S. for green jobs, which pay an average of 21 percent more than other jobs. The SmartAsset study found that 2.23 percent of workers in the Houston area hold down jobs classified as “green.”

Source: GHP analysis and estimates of data from the U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) and The Energy Futures Initiative (EFI), the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), BW Research Partnership (BWRP) and E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs)

The report also analyzed Houston's progress when it comes to emissions. Here are some of the Houston Facts on emission data from the U.S. Environment Protection Agency and the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program:

  • Houston's power plant sector was as the largest greenhouse gas emitter with 43.2 percent of the region's total industrial emissions, and the sector has had an overall increasing trend over the past few years.
  • With 27.5 percent of industrial emissions, the chemicals sector came in No. 2, but the sector peaked in 2018, slightly declined in 2019, and have remained relatively constant through 2021.
  • Refineries ranked third, with for 21.2 percent of emissions, and have remained stable without notable increase over the past few years.
  • Petroleum and natural gas sector emissions have consistently increased since 2012, except for 2017. That year, Houston's overall emission rate reached its lowest point in the past decade at 225.1 mtCO2e.
  • Currently, Houston's emission rate is slightly below the highest point of the past ten years, which was 243.2 mtCO2e recorded in 2012.
Houston Facts, as well as other reports and resources, is available on GHP's website.
Houston ranks in the top five cities for green jobs, which pay on average 21 percent more than other jobs. Photo via Getty Images

Report: Houston recognized in the top 5 cities for green jobs

clean tech biz

Green jobs are generating more green — aka money — for workers in the Houston area.

Personal finance website SmartAsset recently ranked the Houston metro area as the fifth best place in the U.S. for green jobs, which pay an average of 21 percent more than other jobs. The SmartAsset study found that 2.23 percent of workers in the Houston area hold down jobs classified as “green.”

“Houston is known as being an energy hub, especially for oil. So this metro area ranking fifth may surprise some people. However, the green industry is pretty big around Houston, too,” says SmartAsset.

Topping the SmartAsset list is Dallas, followed by Denver; Newark, New Jersey; Oakland, California; and Houston.

The release of the SmartAsset study preceded a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy showing Texas added slightly more than 5,100 jobs in clean energy from 2021 to 2022. That’s a gain of 3.5 percent. Last year, Texas boasted a little over 396,000 jobs in the clean energy sector, the report says.

In the energy sector as a whole, Texas added the most jobs (nearly 51,000) of any state from 2021 to 2022, followed by California (almost 21,200), and Pennsylvania (nearly 15,200), according to the DOE report.

To determine the best places for green jobs, SmartAsset crunched data for the 50 largest U.S. metro areas that included the percentage of workers holding down green jobs, the average earnings for green jobs, and the average green worker’s earnings compared with the average worker’s earnings.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics supplies two definitions for green jobs:

  • Jobs in businesses that provide goods or provide services benefiting the environment or conserving natural resources.
  • Jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their employers’ processes more environmentally friendly.

The bureau lists these as the 10 highest-paying green jobs (followed by the median annual pay in 2021):

  • Biochemist or biophysicist, $102,270
  • Materials scientist, $100,090
  • Environmental engineer, $96,820
  • Atmospheric scientist, $94,570
  • Hydrologist, $84,030
  • Geoscientist, $83,680
  • Chemist, $79,430
  • Microbiologist, $79,260
  • Environmental scientist, $76,530
  • Conversation scientist, $63,750

Even though many green jobs in the U.S. are in renewable energy, that sector remains smaller than the traditional oil and gas industry, according to a recent report from career website LinkedIn. However, the growth of U.S. job postings in renewable energy (69 percent) surpassed the growth of job postings in the oil and gas industry (57) during the first three months of 2023 compared with the same period in 2022.

Globally, the growing demand for green-job skills is “outpacing the increase in supply, raising the prospect of an imminent green skills shortage,” the LinkedIn report says.

Among the sectors seeking workers with those skills are solar and wind power. Texas tallied almost 11,800 solar energy jobs and nearly 25,500 wind energy jobs in 2021, according to a DOE report.

Some observers believe Texas is positioned to become the world’s clean energy capital — and home to thousands more green jobs — with Houston poised to lead the way.

“Industry leaders believe the [Houston] region’s relatively high concentration of engineering talent, a solid base of support services for complex, large-scale offshore and onshore drilling projects, and legacy oil and gas infrastructure can be leveraged to assist in the energy transition and decarbonization,” the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says in a 2022 report.

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Houston organization celebrates zero waste goal

earth day win

Discovery Green celebrated Earth Day with a major milestone this year — achieving it’s Zero Waste goal.

The nonprofit, along with Citizens’ Environmental Coalition and Houston Public Works, are announced that the 2024 Green Mountain Energy Earth Day, which generated more than 3,800 pounds of garbage, diverted the majority of that waste from landfills. "Zero Waste," as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, is successfully diverting at least 90 percent of waste from the landfill.

On Earth Day, Discovery Green composted 2,200 pounds of waste and recycled 1,300 pounds of trash.

“Part of Discovery Green Conservancy’s mission is to serve as a village green for our city and be a source of health and happiness for all. Our goal is to sustain an exceptional environment for nature and people,” Discover Green President Kathryn Lott says in a news release. “We are beyond thrilled to have achieved Zero Waste certification.”

The achievement was made possible by volunteers from the University of Houston – Downtown.

Steve Stelzer, president of Citizens’ Environmental Coalition’s board of directors, acknowledged how rare the achievement is in a public space in a major city like Houston.

“Discovery Green Conservancy stepped up and made a commitment to weigh, measure and record everything. They should be congratulated to have done this at this scale,” Stelzer adds. “The Conservancy said they were going to do it and they did. It’s an amazing accomplishment.”

The 2024 event included:

  • 31,000 visitors in attendance
  • 60 + exhibitors
  • 100 + volunteers
  • 12 artists
    • 9 chalk artists
    • Donkeeboy and Donkeemom
    • Mark Bradford
  • 25 Mark Bradford artworks made of scrap presented in partnership with Houston First
  • 4 short films shown
  • 3,836.7 pounds of waste collected during Green Mountain Energy Earth Day

Texas hydrogen research hub opens to support statewide, DOE-backed initiative

hi to hydrogen

A Texas school has cut the ribbon on a new hydrogen-focused research facility that will play a role in a statewide, Department of Energy-funded energy transition initiative.

The Center for Electromechanics at The University of Texas, Frontier Energy, Inc., and GTI Energy celebrated the grand opening of a hydrogen research and demonstration facility in Austin as part of the “Demonstration and Framework for H2@Scale in Texas and Beyond” project, which is supported by the DOE's Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office.

The hydrogen proto-hub is first-of-its-kind and part of Texas-wide initiative for a cleaner hydrogen economy and will feature contributions from organizations throughout the state. The facility will generate zero-carbon hydrogen by using water electrolysis powered by solar and wind energy, and steam methane reformation of renewable natural gas from a Texas landfill.

The hydrogen will be used to power a stationary fuel cell for power for the Texas Advanced Computing Center, and it will also supply zero-emission fuel to cell drones and a fleet of Toyota Mirai fuel cell electric vehicles. This method will mark the first time that multiple renewable hydrogen supplies and uses have been networked at one location to show an economical hydrogen ecosystem that is scalable.

“The H2@Scale in Texas project builds on nearly two decades of UT leadership in hydrogen research and development” Michael Lewis, Research Scientist, UT Austin Center for Electromechanics, say in a news release. “With this facility, we aim to provide the educated workforce and the engineering data needed for success. Beyond the current project, the hydrogen research facility is well-positioned for growth and impact in the emerging clean hydrogen industry.”

Over 20 sponsors and industry stakeholders are involved and include Houston-based partners in Center for Houston’s Future and Rice University Baker Institute for Public Policy. Industry heavyweights like Chevron, Toyota, ConocoPhillips, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality are also part of the effort.

Texas hydrogen infrastructure and wind and solar resources position the state for clean hydrogen production, as evident in the recently released study, “A Framework for Hydrogen in Texas.” The study was part of a larger effort that started in 2020 with the H2@Scale project, which aims to develop clearer paths to renewable hydrogen as a “clean and cost-effective fuel” according to a news release. The facility will serve as an academic research center, and a model for future large-scale hydrogen deployments.

Participants in the DOE-funded HyVelocity Gulf Coast Hydrogen Hub will aim to gain insights from the H2@Scale project at UT Austin. The project will build towards a development of a comprehensive hydrogen network across the region. HyVelocity is a hub that includes AES Corporation, Air Liquide, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Mitsubishi Power Americas, Orsted, and Sempra Infrastructure. The GTI Energy administered HyVelocity involves The University of Texas at Austin, the Center for Houston’s Future, and Houston Advanced Research Center.

“H2@Scale isn't just about producing low-carbon energy, it's about creating clean energy growth opportunities for communities throughout Texas and the nation,” Adam Walburger, president of Frontier Energy, says in a news release. “By harnessing renewable energy resources to create zero-carbon hydrogen, we can power homes, businesses, transportation, and agriculture – all while creating jobs and reducing emissions.”

Houston organization rolls out new accelerator to support companies tackling 'pressing global challenges'


A Houston organization — freshly funded by a $700,000 U.S. Economic Development Administration’s “Build to Scale” grant — is seeking its first accelerator cohort of industrial biology startups.

Founded by Houston-based First Bight Ventures, the BioWell has launched a virtual accelerator program that will provide programming, networking, mentorship, and financial resources to its inaugural cohort of 10 bioindustrial startups. The selected companies will also have access to specialized pilot bioproduction infrastructure throughout the nine-month program.

“BioWell equips startups with more than just capital. We provide a foundation for breakthrough innovations by combining access to cutting-edge bioproduction facilities with expertise that nurtures scalability. This comprehensive support is crucial for transforming pioneering ideas into market-ready solutions that can address pressing global challenges,” Carlos Estrada, head of venture acceleration at BioWell, says in a news release.

Applications for the program are open until May 15, and the cohort will be announced in June. Specifically, BioWell is seeking seed or pre-seed startup applicants that have a technology readiness level of 3 to 5, focusing on areas including low-cost and sustainable feedstocks, commercially viable yields, and purpose fit microbes.

“During our selection process, we'll prioritize startups that demonstrate a commitment to not only hitting milestones but also to building sustainable revenue streams for long-term survival. This phase necessitates keen awareness of market dynamics, customer demands, and sound financial management,” adds First Bight Ventures and BioWell Founder Veronica Wu.

In December, BioWell secured $741,925 of the $53 million doled out as a part of the "Build to Scale" Grant program that the U.S. Economic Development Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, has established. First Bight was one of 60 organizations to receive funding.

Ex-Apple exec Wu founded First Bight Ventures in Houston in 2022 after relocating from Silicon Valley and seeing the region's potential for biotech.


This article originally ran on InnovationMap.