Former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has launched The Sustainability Exchange, a partnership for municipalities to efficiently study, design and implement clean and sustainable technology projects in collaboration with technical, legal and financial experts. Mayors of cities like New Orleans and Phoenix have announced their support for the initiative.
Daley’s idea was that since cities across the country face the same challenges, they need not face it alone. The exchange aims to unite cities in an innovative partnership for the adoption of best practices in sustainability, and the delivery of measurable, data-driven results.
He launched it in June with his investment firm Tur Partners and has begun discussions with several cities on signing up.
It will focus on four areas – energy efficiency, water and wastewater treatment, waste management, and public transportation. By sharing information among participating cities and leveraging guidance from academic institutions, think tanks and technology experts, the exchange plans to help cities identify and implement best practices in these areas.
After analyzing the data and operations for different cities, potential projects will be identified. The exchange will help with local procurement processes by providing cities better information for adopting solutions, and enabling cities to tell vendors what they need, rather than asking vendors what they can provide.
It will help raise awareness among potential project vendors and financing partners across the nation, which it says will increase competition among technology and service providers and financial institutions, creating a more efficient, less expensive procurement process.
Cities that invest in smart-grid technology and infrastructure, called “connected cities,” experience an annual GDP growth rate that is 0.7 percent higher, an unemployment rate that is a full percentage point lower, and office occupancy rates 2.5 percent higher than less advanced cities, according to a 2012 study by Jones Lang LaSalle.
The financial services firm says this correlation between smart grid applications and cities’ economic performance underlines the strong relationships between public sector infrastructure custodians and power suppliers.