35 WAYS TO HELP MEMBERS PROSPER FROM CLEAN ENERGY 

There are many ways local chambers across the county have found to help their member businesses profit from energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities. They include educating members about available incentives and financing opportunities; attracting new investments; celebrating success stories; supporting clean energy policies that advance forward-thinking business practices; and leading by example in ways that save chambers money, too. Learn about more than 30 of these strategies below.

Promote Financial Savings

Educate on the Issues

Position Your Chamber as a Clean Energy Hub

Lead by Example

Partner with City Government

Celebrate Successes

Educate Your Legislator

Promote Financial Savings

PROMOTE FINANCIAL SAVINGS

1. Share Information on Incentives and Rebates

Share information about tax incentives, rebates, and grants available at local, state, and federal levels for clean energy and energy efficiency initiatives. Share this information with your members through your website, newsletter, or in-person workshops. Click here to see the database of state, local, utility and federal incentives for renewables and energy efficiency.

Who has already done it? The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, Kansas

 

2. Encourage and Help Members Take Advantage of Existing Incentives

Once you’ve provided your members with information on available incentives and rebates, provide them with the tools and encouragement they need to take advantage of these incentives. Explain that they are likely already paying for clean energy and energy efficiency programs through a system benefits charge, a state-mandated charge added to electric bills to distribute the costs of these programs. And educate them about how exactly they can utilize these incentives, and the potential cost savings for their business.

Who has already done it? The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Massachusetts

 

3. Provide Energy Efficiency Tools

Take advantage of existing tools. Many chambers are already connecting their members with energy efficiency experts, and developing free online tools their members can use to monitor their own energy use and identify areas for improvement, including in lighting, appliances, operations, and transportation.

Who has already done it? The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Missouri

 

4. Help Members Complete a Professional Energy Audit

Help your members take the first step toward long-term energy savings with a professional assessment of their energy use. Identify trusted professionals whom your members can easily connect with to perform an audit of their facilities and operations. Utilize chamber, grant, or utility funding to assist members in completing the audit.

Who has already done it? The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), small business partner of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Ohio and the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, Colorado

 

5. Assist with Retrofits

Utilize grant or utility funding to provide assistance to members that want to implement efficiency improvements. Alternatively, provide member businesses that have already completed retrofits with retroactive funding, to offset some of their installation costs. Funding assistance with retrofits encourages energy awareness among businesses and customers, and helps build demand for local energy efficiency technology companies and service providers.

Who has already done it? The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), small business partner of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Ohio

 

6. Establish Vendor Relationships

Connect members with local vendors that offer clean energy products or services. Secure a reduced price in advance to benefit both members and vendors.

Who has already done it? The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, Colorado

Educate on the Issues

EDUCATE ON THE ISSUES

7. Develop a Speaker Series

Many chambers organize and facilitate a weekly, monthly, or quarterly event in which members can hear lectures or discussions on clean energy ideas, new technologies, clean tech policies, and economic opportunities. Your chamber can bring in local experts from business, research, technology, and government sectors to strengthen the awareness and knowledge of member businesses.

Who has already done it? The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, North Carolina, the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, Colorado, and the Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce, Tennessee

 

8. Monitor and Brief Your Members on Legislation

Monitor legislation related to clean energy and energy efficiency at federal, state, and local levels. Educate member businesses on legislative developments and the business implications, empowering them with the knowledge to plan accordingly or engage in policy advocacy. Many chambers throughout the country currently monitor, educate on, and advocate for energy legislation. 

Who has already done it? The Southwest Michigan Chamber First, Michigan

 

9. Create an Energy Committee with Member Companies

Involve your members in ongoing energy discussions and planning by recruiting them to serve on an energy committee within your chamber. At committee meetings, discuss the energy concerns of committee members, options for clean energy or energy efficiency projects, and policy proposals that the committee can support. Make sure that energy providers, large and small consumers, clean tech companies, and businesses from other sectors in your region are represented.

Who has already done it? The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Massachusetts

 

10. Share Expert Information

Through your website or other communication channels, create or link to a go-to resource for members seeking comprehensive information about clean energy policies, technologies, costs, and benefits. Tailor your information hub to your local businesses by focusing on industries common to your region. Provide links to existing online resources from experts, including the U.S. Department of Energy, research institutions, universities, and utilities.

Who has already done it? The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), small business partner of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Ohio, and the Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce, Tennessee

 

11. Create Best Practice Energy Guides

Survey or speak with your members about how they’ve reduced their energy use or implemented clean energy projects. Identify projects that are cost-effective and replicable, and record what the businesses did, how they did it, and the benefits for their bottom line. Share this valuable information with your other members through your website or a printed publication.

Who has already done it? The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), small business partner of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Ohio

Position Your Chamber as a Clean Energy Hub

POSITION YOUR CHAMBER AS A CLEAN ENERGY HUB

12. Attract New Companies and Capital

Through online and printed materials, promote your region as a potential hub for clean energy products or services. Provide information on local renewable energy use, state or local economic incentives, workforce skill sets, public polling data showing support for clean energy, services provided by your chamber, and growth of the clean energy economy in your region in general. Attend clean energy industry conferences and market your region as a clean tech hub to attract businesses to your community.

Who has already done it? The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Texas, and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Colorado

 

13. Help Establish Business Incubators

Help organize a dedicated space, mentorship program, financing options, and services geared toward jump-starting clean energy entrepreneurs. Partner with local research institutions, universities, and business networks to facilitate information sharing, business development, and networking between entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

Who has already done it? The South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, Colorado, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Texas, the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce, Montana, and the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, New York

 

14. Welcome Technology Demonstration Projects

Identify emerging clean energy technologies that have not yet broken into your local market or spurred much investment. Secure funding from Chamber resources, foundations, or government grants to bring in demonstration versions of these technologies, educating local businesses and investors on the value of building this new market in your region.

Who has already done it? The North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, South Carolina

 

15. Host a Clean Energy Expo

Help existing clean energy companies in your region publicize their goods or services through an expo, hosted exclusively by your chamber, or in partnership with another organization. Offer space for clean energy businesses to set up booths, speak on a discussion panel, or distribute their materials to consumers and investors.

Who has already done it? The Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce, Massachusetts, and the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, Pennsylvania

 

16. Facilitate a Focus Group

Moderate a focus group in which local businesses are prompted to discuss the barriers they face in adopting more energy efficiency or clean energy projects. Alternatively, concentrate your focus group on clean tech businesses, in order to learn how they’ve grown in your region (so you can help other members do the same), or the obstacles they face in being successful within the clean energy space. Use these focus groups to identify ways in which your chamber can provide more assistance, through education, networking, sharing information on financing, etc.

Who has already done it? The Boulder Chamber of Commerce, Colorado

 

17. Develop a Clean Energy Focus by Leveraging Staff, Board, and Utility Partners

Developing a clean energy specialty in your chamber can help your members save money while also enhancing your regional marketing and recruitment efforts. It will also enable you to  provide information on new technologies, industry developments, and relevant policy issues to your members. There are several ways your chamber can accomplish this:

(1) Consider leveraging the talent of a current chamber employee with energy knowledge or interest to work on this.

(2) Replicate what other chambers have done and create a clean energy position funded by member companies or by your local utility. Businesses and utilities can benefit as this energy expert facilitates energy savings for businesses, compliance with new energy policies, and coordination with the utility in its clean energy efforts.

(3) When staff additions or changes are impractical, engage board members in a similar role, utilizing their knowledge and connections to network with clean energy businesses.

Who has already done it? The Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce, Tennessee

 

18. Launch Public-Private Partnerships

Because chambers of commerce are often short on staff and resources, organizing a separate organization that can focus independently on clean energy for the long-term will benefit your members, attract clean energy companies to your region, and stimulate investment. Bring together public and private sector experts, help establish the infrastructure, and identify funding sources to allow the organization to exist even without direct chamber oversight or financial support.

Who has already done it? The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Texas, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce, Michigan, and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, California

 

19. Engage in Economic Development Pilot Projects

Utilizing your connections with the business community, partner with organizations looking to develop regional economic development initiatives centered on clean energy and energy efficiency. Through your pilot project, help develop a long-term plan for jumpstarting clean energy businesses in your region. Offer members opportunities to learn about clean energy technologies and financing, recognize local business leaders in clean energy, and make your chamber a go-to resource for clean energy companies looking to relocate to your region.

Who has already done it? The St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, Missouri

 

20. Address Air Quality Issues with Clean Energy Solutions

Poor air quality days can negatively affect your economic development opportunities, as businesses consider quality of life for their workers in deciding where to relocate. Provide your members with educative tools to reduce their transportation-related fuel use, and in turn, help improve local air quality. Focus on efficiency and potential cost savings in your messaging, and share best practices of businesses that have already reduced their fuel use. From transitioning fleets to cleaner burning fuels, to replacing regional meetings with teleconferencing, share feasible options for businesses of all sizes.

Who has already done it? The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, Utah

Lead by Example

LEAD BY EXAMPLE

21. Retrofit Your Chamber Building

Set an example of efficient energy use in buildings and operations by following the guidelines of major building certification programs. The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program provides a framework for implementing practical and measurable solutions for building design, construction, operations, and maintenance that will reduce wasted energy and save your chamber money on electricity bills.

The Green Building Initiative (GBI) addresses building efficiency in many different sectors, including corporate offices, grocery stores, retail buildings, industrial facilities, and healthcare facilities, among others. GBI provides a third-party certification through its Green Globes system. Both GBI and LEED certification are nationally recognized stamps of approval for your efficient buildings, and can be used as a positive example and teaching tool for local businesses as they attempt to reduce their own energy use and costs.

Who has already done it?  The Cape Code Chamber of Commerce, Massachusetts, The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, Texas

 

22. Reduce Your Chamber’s Energy Use

Bring in experts to perform an energy audit of your chamber’s headquarters and operations. Identify cost-effective retrofits and changes in internal operations that will save your chamber in energy bills, while serving as a teaching tool for local businesses. Improvements might include replacing inefficient lighting and appliances, altering settings on computers and other technologies, installing rooftop solar panels, or purchasing renewable energy credits, among countless other projects.

Who has already done it? The Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, North Carolina

 

23. Adopt New Technologies at Your Chamber

Partner with local clean energy companies or utilities promoting state-of-the-art technologies to use your chamber headquarters as an installation and demonstration site. Share information about new technologies with your members, encourage them to visit your headquarters to see cutting-edge devices in action, and promote further early adoption among your members.

Who has already done it? The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, North Carolina

Partner with City Government

PARTNER WITH CITY GOVERNMENT

24. Implement Clean Energy Transportation Solutions

Several new clean energy transportation technologies offer reduced traffic congestion, increased business for local suppliers, and a more enjoyable daily commute for employees. Working with city officials, identify clean energy options that are practical and cost-effective for your region, and will help identify your area as a clean energy leader, therefore leading to greater economic development down the line. Options include bike-sharing, electric vehicle infrastructure, electric trains, and high-speed rail, among many others.

Who has already done it? The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, Utah

 

25. Help Your City Replace Inefficient Technologies

Encourage your city government to be a clean energy leader by installing readily available, more efficient technologies at the city-wide level. Work with city partners and energy experts to study the economic benefits of replacing certain technologies, such as public lighting. Use this data to design a city-wide implementation plan, utilizing the products and services of local suppliers and installers. Once implemented, educate your members on the energy savings of these new technologies, and how they might adopt similar cost-saving measures in their businesses.

Who has already done it? The Greater Washington Board of Trade, Washington, D.C.

 

26. Set Energy Efficiency Goals for your City

Setting energy efficiency goals will help your region save money, while sending a clear signal to investors and clean tech companies that demand will be greater for more efficient technologies and clean energy services. Partner with your city government to establish bold goals for reducing the energy use of your city, including that of residents and local businesses. Work with local businesses to help them meet these goals, by sharing existing resources on how to make energy efficiency retrofits, connecting them with energy experts, and promoting the services of clean energy companies in your region.

Who has already done it? The Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce, Massachusetts

Celebrate Successes

CELEBRATE SUCCESSES

27. Promote a Certification Program

Offer guidance and tools to help member businesses reduce their energy use, make energy efficient retrofits, or adopt new renewable energy technologies. Follow an existing certification program, such as Green Plus, or work with experts to create your own. Provide businesses that complete the program with certification that demonstrates they are a local leader in clean energy.

Who has already done it? The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, North Carolina and the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, Arkansas

 

28. Recognize Existing Leaders

Even if a certification program is beyond your chamber’s resources, provide online recognition and publicity for members that have adopted clean energy or energy efficient practices. Incentivize other businesses to share their clean energy practices by offering listings on your website, inclusion in chamber publications, and badges and logos that businesses can display on their own materials.

Who has already done it? The Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce, Michigan, the Dekalb County Chamber of Commerce, Georgia, and the Greater Indianapolis Chamber, Indiana

 

29. Sponsor Clean Energy Awards

Recognize local business, community, or government leaders who have made a difference in clean energy developments that favor your business community and the clean energy economy as a whole. Publicize your award winners on your website, in chamber publications, and through media channels. If an entire new award series seems too cumbersome, consider adding a clean energy award to an existing event your chamber already hosts.

Who has already done it? The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the Central Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

 

30. Host a Competition

Challenge member businesses to compete for awards from your chamber or funding for clean energy retrofits. Give awards to businesses that have shown leadership in taking on renewable energy or energy efficiency projects in the past year. In your publicity of the awards, use winners’ stories to demonstrate how clean energy initiatives can help cut expenses, increase revenue, and position businesses to succeed in the long-term.

Who has already done it? The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), small business partner of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Ohio, the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association (RCGA), and the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, Virginia

Educate Your Legislator

EDUCATE YOUR LEGISLATOR

31. PACE Legislation

PACE legislation makes it easier and less expensive for businesses to make renewable energy or energy efficiency improvements to their buildings, which reduce energy use and improve the overall value of the property. Under PACE programs, property owners voluntarily opt in to receive financing from cities or counties for clean energy projects, such as weather sealing, insulation, energy efficient boilers and cooling systems, new windows and solar installations. They then pay off this financing through an addition to their property taxes for up to 20 years, with the repayment obligation transferring automatically to the next property owner if the property is sold.

Who has already done it? The Bridgeport Regional Business Council, The Los Angeles Chamber, Prince William Chamber, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber, Cambridge Chamber, San Francisco Chamber, and many more

 

32. Smart Grid Legislation

The smart grid incorporates digital technologies to sense and respond to electricity demand in real-time, greatly improving efficiency and reliability. With businesses and commerce increasingly reliant on reliable electricity, bringing our electric grid up to the 21st century is key in ensuring our local economies continue to grow. Build a strong coalition of supporters for smart grid legislation, including businesses, consumer groups, technology experts, environmental groups, and others. Educate legislators and the public on the economic benefits of a modernized electric grid, and support legislative efforts to pass smart grid policies.

Who has already done it? The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Illinois

 

33. Tax Credits

Encourage state legislators to enact tax credits for businesses that adopt clean energy projects. Emphasize energy savings and improved bottom lines for businesses in your region, as well as a spark for clean energy technology and service providers that would come with increased demand. Visit the U.S. Department of Energy for a comprehensive overview of incentives available in your state.

As part of its 2012 Business Growth Agenda, one local chamber in Massachusetts sponsored legislation to increase the tax credit for energy efficiency from 3 to 5 percent. The chamber worked with member companies and legislators to address the cost concerns associated with this legislation, and revised it to place a cap on the amount a business could claim (i.e., $5,000 per year for upgrades or 20% of the project’s cost). The chamber also helped to further define the size of businesses that would be eligible to receive the credit. Ultimately, it was determined that the credit should be available for small-to-mid-size companies with 50 or fewer employees.

 

34. Clean Energy Transit Policies

Utilize chamber networks, economic growth studies, and business voices in advocating for policies that would expand existing clean energy transit projects in your region, or bring about the development of new projects. These might include electrically-powered light rail, high-speed rail, alternative-fuel public bus lines, and others. Such projects can usher in construction, maintenance, and operations jobs, and further your region’s reputation for clean energy leadership.

Who has already done it? The Minneapolis Regional Chamber, the TwinWest Chamber, and the Saint Paul Area Chamber

 

35. State Policies to Encourage Clean Energy Investment

Bring forward business voices and economic arguments in favor of large-scale state legislation that provides investors with the certainty they need to back new and growing clean energy businesses in your state.

Who has already done it? The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, California