In 2008, the Greater Waco Chamber, deep in the heart of Texas oil country, became the first local chamber of commerce to receive Gold level certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its new headquarters. The chamber proudly hailed its accomplishment as the first building in Central Texas to win Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (or LEED) certification in recognition of its best-in-class building strategies and practices.
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce chose the city’s famed zoo and botanical garden as host of its recent 2014 Energy Summit, recognizing and highlighting the zoo’s decisions in the last several years to make energy efficiency and innovation a central part of its facilities and structures planning.
Michael Pahutski, the chairman of the chamber’s Energy and Environment Committee, praised the zoo’s work in energy innovation and said that it was in many ways a model for how businesses large and small can save money on energy.
The Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce in Michigan has scored a rare triple victory: it helped launch and grow a new business that educates its community on an important economic development project while generating new tourism spending. And it has done so on the topic of energy generation, typically not a topic that draws crowds.
The Metro South Chamber of Commerce in Brockton, Massachusetts, is housed in the building where Thomas Edison first perfected one of his greatest lighting innovations. Today, the Metro South Chamber is extending that history of energy innovation by pioneering a new national program designed to help local chambers of commerce and their member businesses take advantage of cost savings from installing solar energy.
In 2010, the North Myrtle Beach Chamber helped build a coalition of local wind energy champions with a plan to bring clean energy investment, jobs, innovation, and statewide recognition to the town. The effort paid off: North Myrtle Beach became the first place in South Carolina to host a grid-connected wind turbine.
Working hand-in-hand with Saginaw Future, the economic development agency for Saginaw County, the two organizations decided to try to increase demand for solar in Michigan by working with local governments to streamline permitting processes for companies interested in installing renewables. They launched four “Solar Ready Community” pilot projects using the streamlined permitting processes and helped develop the infrastructure necessary for local businesses to install solar panels.
Steve Brody, the Executive Director of Galesburg Area Chamber of Commerce in Illinois, did not need much convincing when he was approached by Ameren Illinois to help promote an energy efficiency retrofit program for area businesses. He was, however, adamant that Ameren identify local contractors to do the required energy audits.
“If you want our chamber to participate in this,” Brody said, “you need to get a Galesburg business involved. We want to have Galesburg businesses helping Galesburg businesses.”
Early last year, the New Bedford Economic Development Council established a special wind energy center to boost efforts to develop the offshore wind industry in this southeastern Massachusetts town. Last weekend, the Mayor of New Bedford told a roomful of local chamber of commerce executives that wind energy will transform his city’s economy.