Representatives of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce and Institute for Sustainable Development discussed the Green Plus program with U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Dennis Hightower and 40 U.S. Senate and House staffers Tuesday at the invitation of Partners for Livable Communities and the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE).
The day long program was set up by the two organizations to showcase positive leadership in sustainability by chambers of commerce around the country. Participating chambers included the
- Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce
- Bridgeport (CT) Regional Business Council
- Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Waco (TX) Chamber
- Greater Columbia (SC) Chamber of Commerce
- Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
The day long session, titled “Enterprise at Home for Progress at Large“, illustrated examples of innovative sustainability leadership in economic development, public policy, planning, and small business assistance by local and regional chambers (please see the Partners for Livable Communities summary of innovative sustainability program by chambers around the United States).
Some chambers, including Bridgeport, Columbia, Indianapolis and Waco, set a strong example in their own communities to encourage better environmental stewardship. Waco, for example, is believe to be the first chamber of commerce to build a LEED certified building (Gold).
Others discussed how they utilized their brand as a sustainability – conscious community to attract new companies to their regions. The Chattagnooga Area Chamber presented a very compelling case study of how its sustainability efforts brought Volkswagon and related suppliers to its community.
Finally, others developed scalable programs to help chambers broadly calculate and reduce their carbon footprint – such as the Greater Kansas City Chamber’s Climate Prosperity Project.
Adam Klein, Vice President of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber (CHC) of Commerce, appeared with Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD) director Chris Carmody to discuss CHC’s incubation of the ISD and the development of the Green Plus program – a small business assistance, education and certification program designed to scale across North America. The Green Plus program was titled, “Democratizing Sustainability: Bringing Main Street into a Sustainable Economy.”
Green Plus is the official small and medium sized enterprise sustainability program of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. The ACCE has 1,300 North American Chamber of Commerce members representing 1.2 million businesses. The ACCE also manages the Ford Foundation Fellowship for Regional Sustainable Development that trains chamber of commerce executives and economic development officials in integrating sustainability into regional development strategy.