LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Here’s How Your Chamber Can be a Value Add to Member Businesses
Local chambers across the country are helping their members profit from energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities. Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy is a free, chamber-run information hub that helps you attract and retain members. We do that by helping you take advantage of the growing economic opportunities in the clean energy space. Scroll through the strategies below to find the ones that best suit your members’ needs and feel free to contact us to help you bring these opportunities to life:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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