Growing a Green Local Economy

“Green” economic activities are flourishing not only in the global scale but also in the local scene. Opportunities are becoming more available for counties to participate in the green economy.

green economy


What is Green Economy?

Basically, the concept of “Green Economy” is still young, and industry leaders do not still agree in one single definition. Some say that this refers simply to clean energy; while some define it is the greening of every single economic input. Despite the disparity on the conceptual definition, most think tanks agree that green economy represents the economic convergence of environmental stewardship, economic development, worldwide brands and workforce development.

Meanwhile, a published analysis of several studies on green economy, entitled Defining the Green Economy: A Primer on Green Economic Development, offers a clear definition of the concept. It defines green economy as the clean energy economy composed of four primary sectors: green building and energy efficiency technology, recycling and waste-to-energy, renewable energy, and energy-efficient infrastructure and transportation.

Sectors of Growing a Green Economy

In April of 2012, the U.S. Government made one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history. It announced a bold goal to deploy three gigawatts of total renewable energy on U.S. military installations by 2025.  The $7 billion spending plan is for the purchase of energy over a period of 30 years from renewable energy plants.

The Army’s long-term goal is energy neutrality—to generate as much energy as it uses worldwide. It’s made the most progress at U.S. army bases. A new 4.5-megawatt solar farm at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico supplies 10 percent of the site’s power. Fort Bliss, in Texas, has a 1.4-megawatt solar plant. By 2025 officials expect the Army will draw 25 percent of its power in the U.S. from renewables, up from 5.5 percent now.

The confluence of environmentalism and economics lead to the creation of new sectors, which needs the re-assessment of numerous production processes. The green economy sectors could vary depending on the conceptual definition of stakeholders.

These sectors include:

Green Economic Development

Resource Efficiency and Green Purchasing

Local Production
Waste Management
Green Infrastructure

Before discussing the five strategies that can work with the above sectors, it must be noted that there are three embracing themes that run across these five sectors. These are:

1. Retrofit

The cost-efficient way to go green is to retrofit current processes and systems to use existing resources efficiently.

2. Grow “Green”

Natural growth offers an important opportunity to apply green technology. Existing and future productions systems and technology can be assessed and changed to conform to green economic standards.

3. Consume “Green”

The consumption of products, foor, and services has many environmental and economic impacts. In the process of purchasing, consumers can make changes to make certain that products will be produced efficiently with minimal effects to the environment.

Five County Strategies for Economic, Workforce and Environmental Innovation

1. Green Economic Development

Conventional economic development concentrates on increasing production, which is important for generating local profits. Therefore, creating export bases may dominate much of conventional economic development strategies. In the concept of green economy, conventional economic development strategies are used in building businesses that enhances environmental outcomes.

Key targets for green economic development include business establishments that produce parts for generation of clean energy, technological research for production of clean energy and development strategies. Enticing new businesses adopting green economy is regarded as to be the most important strategy for environmental-friendly economic development. However, the expensive cost for research, development, site relocation, and marketing of products and services could hinder businesses from expansion.

2. Resource Efficiency and Green Purchasing

Aside from green economic development strategies used in increasing production and supply, there are also methods for creating local green economies. This includes resource efficiency and green purchasing, which are primarily used to address the consumer-side of the green economy – increasing the purchasing power of communities alongside the demand for water, energy, and green products.

With effective use of resources, local government can reduce their operational costs, the cost of business for current green economies, lower barriers of entry for businesses who want to go green, minimize the utility expenses for residents, improving quality of life and enticing a more robust workforce. It can also minimize the negative effects on the environment caused by overuse of resources.

3. Local Production and Utilization

Local production and consumption creates local wealth that could increase self-dependency and economic prosperity. These strategies also reduce the environmental effects linked with long-distance transportation of products. Because of the multiplier effect, the positive effects of local expenses could ripple throughout the whole local economy. The economic chain of counties could work by creating jobs by production of goods locally while on-site jobs and profits are also established by distribution of goods, and added jobs and economic activities are also created by supplying products and services to people in the main green economy.

4. Waste Stream Management

By minimizing the expenses and adverse externalities linked with waste disposal, local economies can create jobs and reduce the costs of doing business. Counties must understand the value of sustainable waste management. Numerous local government units also adopted aggressive programs for solid waste management. For example, the state of Hawaii has launched its zero waste program. Reaching the results will need innovative technologies to increase recycling rates and minimize waste stream, and also convert waste to energy without the need to depend on incineration.

5.  Green Policy and Planning

Local governments also excel as organizers, thought leaders and conveners. Also, all the strategies described in the report require the development of effective planning and policies that should be carefully implemented. Comprehensive plans provide local counties the chance to take advantage of the many positive points of green economy, while reducing the adverse effects of economic development and resource use.

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