Economic Development: Environmental Challenges
Economic development strategies and sustainability historically have not commonly complemented one another. The traditionally divergent goals of the two principles often lead to conflicting priorities and even policies. The following environmental issues can be a challenge when moving to sustainable economic development strategies.
Reducing energy consumption
Reducing total energy consumption, as well as increasing the percentage of commercial energy consumption derived from renewable sources (wind, solar, bio-fuel, etc.) will be critical for reaching local carbon emission goals. However, promoting conservation can sometimes be unpopular and politically controversial, especially if the electric utility is a source of revenue for the jurisdiction. Also, in some areas there is very limited access to renewable power options.
Limiting supply and distribution-chains
The global supply and distribution chains increase the transportation-driven carbon footprint of individual businesses. Reducing the length of supply and distribution chains will be critical for allowing businesses to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Controlling extraction and use of natural resources
The commercial sector is a significant consumer of water, timber, minerals, metals, and other natural resources. This consumption poses sustainability challenges in terms of eco-system protection, and the environmental consequences of extraction (clear-cut forests, strip and mountaintop mining, etc.).
The reduction and proper disposal of waste generated in both the production and consumption cycles will be a key measure of success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and landfill usage. This may necessitate redesigning manufacturing processes, product packaging, and disposal practices, as well as educating both producers and consumers.
Creating a unified workforce development system
Green-collar training efforts should be developed in concert with existing workforce/economic development initiatives, and not as stand-alone initiatives. However, the current workforce development system has historically been fragmented, funded by multiple sources, and lacking a strategic focus. Green-collar job training initiatives can be a vehicle for increasing the integration and strategic coherence of your workforce programs, but it may take considerable effort to enact this reform.
Creating industry-recognized standards for green-collar jobs
With the rush to create more green jobs and train more people, it is critical that individuals receive industry-approved skill training. Because the sector is young and growing rapidly, many of these standards are still evolving.
Financing of small-scale building retrofits
Green retrofits of existing buildings are a critical element for building a green-collar sector. While Energy Service Companies (ESCO’s) are used successfully to fund retrofits of larger buildings (public, multifamily and commercial), they are not an appropriate model for smaller structures. Financing remains a significant challenge in this area.
Rethinking the goals of business recruitment
Traditionally, local economic development has placed a heavy emphasis on the recruitment of large companies. However, many of the businesses in the green sector tend to be small or mid-size. In addition, locally owned businesses have been shown to put more dollars back into the local economy. Yet traditional economic development efforts can often overlook these smaller but equally important firms.Any change to an existing facility, such as the adjustment, connection, or disconnection of equipment.The related carbon generated from any given activity. For example: one mile of driving an average compact vehicle generates .6 pounds of carbon from the burning of gas. This does not count the embodied energy of the manufacture, maintenance and disposal of the car and nor the construction of the road and its maintenance.Greenhouse gases are a part of the Earth's atmosphere and are both naturally occurring and the result of human chemical processes. The most common greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and chlorofluourocarbons. These gases trap heat and thus contribute to the warming of the planet. See also CFCS and GREENHOUSE EFFECT.The ability or potential of a physical body to do work. The most common forms of energy are heat, light, mechanical (moving parts), and electrical.