I envision this to be a space where policy, business and innovation can be discussed in terms of sustainability. We’ve talked about some creative eco-business moves, but still haven’t gotten around to discussing environmental policy. Legislation can be a double-edged sword for green business. On one hand governments can subsidize green technologies, which can aid a fledging business. But–just as easily–governments can choose to back one kind of eco-friendly practice over another, damaging early adopters. How these politics play out can greatly affect the environmental and business landscape.
I was recently able to see how this process occurs in San Diego as a project lead for the 2009 San Diego Environmental Quality Report Card. The report card is a mechanism used in San Diego to hold city officials accountable for their votes on environmental quality. We analyzed nearly one hundred City Council votes and twenty-six Mayoral public statements. We also examined twenty-seven individual budget items. This data was weighted according to its environmental impacts, and then the city officials were given grades.
For those of you who might be interested in some of the big issues in the San Diego environmental policy landscape, I’d like to provide a brief summary below:
- Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR), which would result in the first water reclamation project of its kind in San Diego County.
- Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant: As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the city of San Diego received $12.5 million dollars. A spending plan was developed that determined the money would be spent on a water conservation and energy efficiency program for the economically disadvantaged, water and energy audits and education, street light retrofits, upgrades for city owned buildings, and the development of a climate protection action plan for the City of San Diego.
- In 2009 the Mayor executed a twenty year Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) with Sun Edison for the installation and operation of a solar photovoltaic system at the Otay-Water Treatment Plant. One of the stated Mayoral goals is to continue to pursue solar energy options in San Diego.
Businesses operating in San Diego need to be aware of these shifts in water and energy resource management. For businesses not operating in San Diego, I would suggest doing a quick search to find a local report card like ours. In addition to the requisite grades, there should be a detailed listing of the environmental legislation affecting your area. It pays to see the external threats and opportunities to your business, and often these come in the form of policy.