By Lisa McCrummen, Center for Sustainable Infrastructure
CSI has long recognized that Washington state is in a unique position to emerge as a leader in the green economy not just nationally, but globally.
Why? We’re home to a range of innovative companies with corporate and business leadership that recognize the economic power of the green economy; the state has a long history of government leaders that champion policies that support a green economy; across the state our citizens have long embraced strong environmental values; and our state is home to world class higher education institutions that are engaged in research and development that help bring innovative ideas and technology out into the world.
The Association of Washington Cities’ Center for Quality Communities has been hard at work creating a framework that will better tap into and foster a ‘thriving green economy’ in our state, which will be particularly important in the face of climate change. They recognize that as climate impacts accelerate, business and governments need help with mitigation and adaptation – and that Washington State could position itself as a national and global leader to offer innovative solutions. They’ve been working with partners including CSI to explore the concept: ‘What would it mean for our cities, region and the world if Washington can develop, nurture and grow the technologies and manufacture the products that address climate change?’
Now their new study “Growing the Green Economy in Washington State” (Eco-Nomics) provides some answers. Eco-Nomics (the report) looks at four sectors that are both likely to emerge as critical in a changing climate and where Washington is well positioned to be a national and global leader: energy, water, agriculture & forestry, and building materials.
Their analysis reviews how ready our State is to capture the economic opportunities that are needed by marrying the sectors with new clean technologies, manufacturing capabilities, research and development, and education and workforce training.
The results are incredibly helpful: the report suggests there are many important opportunities for business expansion and development in all four sectors but that in the areas of water and energy our State has significant national and global leadership potential. The report also points out that in the building materials, and agriculture and forestry sectors the State is ripe for business development and investments.
The report offers 9 key recommendations:
1. Create an Eco-Nomic Center in Washington State to serve as a clearing house.
2. Invest in Educational R&D and Workforce Training.
3. Create a Water Innovation Center in Washington State. 4. Create a Clean Energy Center in Washington State.
5. Integrate ICT Capabilities in all Four Business Groups. (Energy, Water, Agriculture & Forestry, and Building Materials.)
6. Encourage Smart Grid Technologies. 7. Expand Focus on Cross-Laminated Timber. 8. Expand R&D in Agriculture and Food Production. 9. Develop Different Economic Models for Assessing Risk, Managing Assets and Financing and Infrastructure.
This report is timely – as climate impacts accelerate there’s a need to ‘de-silo’ thinking, convene and engage partners to collaborate and move forward on ideas and opportunities for Washington State.