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The Four Greens

There are a wide variety of ways to conceptualize Sustainable Economic Development.  One way that has achieved some acceptance has come to be referred to as The Four Greens – Green Savings, Green Opportunities, Green Talent, and Green Places.  Each of The Four Greens has a set of key elements associated with it that can be used to:

  • Assess the sustainability assets, liabilities, opportunities, and challenges of places.
  • Design Sustainable Economic Development Strategies, composed of Initiatives and Actions, that build on the assets, address the liabilities, take advantage of the opportunities, respond to the challenges, monitor ongoing performance, and measure results/outcomes.

The Four Greens with their Key Elements

1) Green Savings, the Demand Side of Green Markets – encouraging businesses, families, communities, and governments to cut costs and save money by efficiently using renewable resources and by reducing and reusing waste, with the goal of all businesses becoming Green Businesses.

  • Green Businesses, Public Agencies, and Non-Governmental Organizations:  the environmental and financial performance of existing business firms (whether or not they produce an environmental product or service), government agencies, and non-governmental organizations and the potentialities for implementing significant increases in energy conservation, resource efficiency, waste reduction, and financial return.
  •  Green Building Retrofits:  the financial/energy/resource efficiency of existing buildings and building user behavior, and the possibilities for large-scale building retrofits.
  • Large-Scale Behavior Change:  the level of adoption of Green Savings by households and the opportunities for undertaking large scale citizen mobilizations to encourage households to reduce environmental impacts and adopt green buying practices.

2) Green Opportunities, the Supply Side of Green Markets – growing Cleantech companies, jobs, and incomes through business development and expansion of the markets for products and services that conserve resources and prevent pollution.

  • Clean Tech Cluster:  the status and the potentiality for growth of the businesses included in the Clean Tech business cluster that provide a range of environmental products, services, and processes intended to offer superior performance at lower costs, while reducing negative ecological impacts, and improving the wise and responsible use of natural resources.
  • Clean Tech Technology Transfer:  the current situation and the opportunities for strengthening of university and institutional research and development (R&D) leading to technology transfer and intellectual property (IP) commercialization that can be utilized by Clean Ttech companies to produce new Clean Tech products and services.
  • Green and Clean Tech Business Support:  the economic and social infrastructure that is in place and the opportunities for improvement in relation to business incubation, acceleration, retention, and attraction—creating an optimal place for Clean Tech and green businesses to locate, expand, and grow over the long term.
  • Triple Bottom Line Investment:  existing and potential investment vehicles—both debt and equity—pursuing financial, social, and environmental returns through investment in Clean Tech and green businesses and sustainable real estate developments.

3) Green Talent, the Human Resources Side of Green Markets – investing in the fundamental assets of education, research, technological innovation, and modern entrepreneurial and workforce skills, because people are now the world’s most vital green economic resource.

  • Green Workforce:  established systems and new opportunities for green employment development—including education, training, placement with career pathways, and other forms of assistance—to attract and retain a high quality green workforce that provides the employees, entrepreneurs, and management needed by Cleantech and green businesses, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations.
  • Green Community Engagement:  existing and potential programs for the engagement of the talent and creativity of the residents of a place in understanding sustainability, in participating in the process of building a sustainable/green economy, and in making green purchasing decisions.

4) Green Places, the Locations for Green Markets –  promoting Eco-Smart Development that features low-impact, mixed-use, resource-efficient design and utilizes multi-modal transportation, sustainable infrastructure, and green energy to protect and enhance the natural and built environment, leading to communities and regions that are more attractive, livable, healthy, vibrant, prosperous, and productive.

  • Eco-Smart Real Estate Development:  the construction—both infill and Greenfield—of mixed-use, walkable, energy efficient, transit-oriented real estate developments featuring Cleantech and green businesses and the opportunities for new sustainable real estate development projects.
  • Green Physical Infrastructure:  the financial/energy/resource/information efficiency of water, energy, transportation, waste management, and broadband infrastructure as well as the potentialities for significant increases in overall efficiency and financial performance of the physical infrastructure.
  • Sustainable Community Development:  existence of Cleantech and green businesses and sustainable real estate developments led and participated in by minorities, women, and underserved communities and opportunities to connect these businesses and developments with the appropriate financial and business acceleration services; as well as the empowerment of low- and moderate-income employees and residents to save money through resource efficiency.
  • Green Branding and Marketing:  existing and potential branding and marketing of a place as an emerging sustainable economy, seeking to promote the growth of Cleantech and green businesses and sustainable real estate developments, as well as to attract these types of businesses and real estate developments.

Sustainable Economic Development Strategies