PART 1: Saving Money, Expanding Markets, and Building a Talented Workforce
- The “Climate Prosperity” model is an economic development strategy with environmental benefits, rather than an environmental strategy with economic benefits.
- The “clean energy economy” encompasses businesses that directly manufacture or provide products and services related to renewable energy and energy efficiency, companies that produce low carbon and environmentally-friendly products as their primary business, and other companies that are working to make their existing operations more sustainable. This “market” can ultimately include the entire economy.
- The clean energy economy is growing fast and creating jobs at three times the rate of the rest of the economy (nine percent annual job growth compared to three percent). By conservative measures, the clean energy economy was estimated at $116 billion in 2008 and is projected triple to $350 billion with the next few years.
- Communities aiming to capture emerging opportunities in the clean energy economy need to look where the economy is going, not where it is. Venture capitalists are more interested in investments that have a 10 percent chance of making 100 times their money rather than 80 percent chance of doubling their money. Communities need to think in terms of fostering such low percentage, high reward projects.
- The key benefits of an economic strategy based on sustainability and clean energy are 1) cutting costs for businesses and households; 2) driving innovation that creates new business markets; and 3) building an educated and skilled workforce that remains an asset even as jobs come and go.
- San Antonio's “Mission Verde” is a leading example of one region's commitment to build a 21st century economy based on sustainability and clean energy, and create new jobs and industries, even in a time of broader economic downturn. It includes specific regional initiatives regarding energy infrastructure, a “double bottom line” venture capital fund, a green jobs program, a microlending fund, a green building code for new construction and green retrofit program for existing buildings, multimodal transportation plans, sustainable real estate development practices, and a green business certification standard.
- The San Antonio government’s leadership by example has helped stimulate new markets for private businesses.
- San Antonio and other cities conducted “opportunity analyses” to evaluate the assets that make a given community competitive or a potential growth center in specific industries and innovation clusters. San Antonio focused on five industries: energy storage, energy sector cyber security, solar hot water/thermal energy, solar photovoltaics (PV), and electric vehicles.