APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
Paradigm Nouveau, through the SB2020 commitment, will create new grassroots engagement and economic models that will allow for the transformation of this community to become truly sustainable in 10 years. The commitment makers' role will also be to tell the story in a way so that other communities may take lessons from their experience and do this for themselves.
SB2020 will demonstrate that a community (in this case Boulder County, Colorado) can achieve specific and aggressive measures of sustainability in a timeframe that will ensure meaningful contributions to the county's standing climate change goals. Many actions necessary for a sustainable Boulder have already begun. These actions include: the nation's first carbon tax, development of extensive open space lands for sustainable agricuture, and becoming the first SmartGrid city in the country; and will continue to expand over time. Therefore, Paradigm Nouveau's role is 1) to develop an economic model that allows for these actions to be fully utilized and more effective; 2) to bring together the community in a grassroots way that encourages greater community responsibility around sustainability goals and approaches; 3) to work with existing organizations to achieve their sustainability goals; and 4) to catalog and report on the success of these actions so that the model can be replicated by other communities throughout the world.
An integral part of SB2020 is creating innovation in locally-generated funding, and therefore participation in our sustainable transformation, as well as allowing the PACE program to operate year-round and at lower costs. First, a private equity company will be developed for accredited investors to invest in financing that will be made available to the county for its PACE program.
This investment company will also invest in non-PACE program initiatives to achieve improved sustainability measures. An example in local food production is a distribution company for local growers to sell directly to large retail supermarkets and restaurants in addition to local farmers markets. To engage Boulder County citizens, Paradigm Nouveau will work with local banks to develop innovative banking products that allow for individuals to invest directly in PACE program financing. This combination of the private equity company, individual investments through bank deposits and bank-financed leverage will fund the ClimateSmart Loan program and other vital investment opportunities in food production, water, waste and similar sustainability ventures.
Grassroots engagement is an even more challenging task for SB2020. In addition to community participation through PACE program investments, an awareness strategy will be developed and undertaken to alter the 'worldview' of the community toward a sustainable future. This will involve a comprehensive program through traditional and digital media advertising, social media clustering, web-based media approaches (video, informational, etc.) and volunteerism. Engagement will reach all segments of the community - schools, religious institutions, ethnic neighborhoods, businesses, existing community groups, farmers, land owners, renters, etc. It is clear that only through effective engagement of a community's citizenry can the daunting challenges of sustainability be met.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
SB2020 is a 10-year commitment, which began in 2010. Implementation strategies include website development and social media tools to educate the community; an awareness campaign to create a grassroots action base as well as report on progress; and community-based investment fund strategies designed to create a new economic foundation for sustainability investments within the community and funded by the community.
Based on previous studies commissioned by Boulder County, the SB2020 level of financial investment in sustainability initiatives will generate thousands of new 'green' jobs, with a corresponding ripple effect throughout the local economy. These jobs include contractors, installers, and other technical workers as well as job training activites to meet these increased needs.
A public launch event for SB2020 will took place in Septtember 2010, prior to the CGI Annual Meeting.
The investment fund initiative began immediately and was prepared to accept investment subscriptions later in 2010.
Website, social media tools, awareness campaign, etc. will be completed in 2010.
There will be specific, measurable results and initiatives to come on line during the 10 years of the project. Overall outcomes of this commitment will include reduced carbon footprint, new green jobs, an enhanced local economy, robust local food and water resources, zero waste, sustainable transportation, and a renewed sense of community.
Paradigm Noveau's working definition of sustainable community development is, 'the ability to make development choices which respect the relationship between economy, ecology and equity.' The key elements of this definition are broken down below:
Economy - economic activity should serve the common good, be self-renewing and build local assets and self-reliance.
Ecology - Humans are part of nature, nature has limits and communities are responsible for protecting and building natural assets.
Equity - The opportunity for participation in all activities, benefits and decision-making of a society.
Both the climate and economic crises are global problems that impact and will continue to impact individual communities. Currently, there are no easily replicable models for sustainable communities available. While many cities have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there has been limited success so far. With the global economy facing deep challenges, funding for sustainability initiatives is uncertain.
The City of Boulder has committed itself to reaching aggressive emissions reduction goals (at least a 40 percent reduction from 2005 levels by 2020) but has demonstrated only nominal improvement through 2010. There is no shortage of ideas or programs; in fact, Boulder is an innovative leader in waste management, alternative transportation, extensive bicycle trails, green building codes, and Colorado's first Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, among many others. In addition, businesses have stepped up with corporate sustainability challenges such as 10 for Change, where they agree to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent.
In 2008, Boulder County voters approved (with Paradigm Nouveau's leadership and financial support) an innovative program to allow for sustainable building improvements through low-cost loans repaid through special property tax assessments (these programs are called PACE nationally; in Boulder it is referred to as the ClimateSmart Loan Program). The program has been highly successful but is limited by certain factors (Note: currently all PACE programs have been suspended nationally until a resolution with FHFA has been reached, and this commitment assumes a favorable resolution allowing for resumption of the program). In order for Boulder County to receive an A+ rating from the bond agencies, it must create special reserves that add to the cost of the program. Also, the ClimateSmart Loans cannot be processed year round; they must go in 'open seasons' whereby the loans are bundled and then bonds are issued to pay for these bundles. This is not only inefficient but also costly to the administrative organizations involved in the program.
Currently, there is no vehicle available whereby a citizen can invest directly in their own community knowing that this investment will enhance the local economy, create new 'green' jobs and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while delivering a low-risk, attractive rate of return on investment. This is due in no small part to significant regulatory and financial limitations for traditional mutual funds to operate on a small scale.
The two main obstacles that Boulder faces are 1) the ability to engage its citizenry to implement available programs and adopt a sustainable lifestyle, i.e., to take on future sustainability as its own sense of duty and not merely the responsibility of government; and 2) access to financing mechanisms to provide individuals and businesses the ability to quickly implement appropriate changes, allowing for Boulder citizens to actively participate in the movement toward a sustainable future.
SEEKING: Financial Resources, Best Practice Information, Media/Marketing Opportunities
For any CGI members committed to a replicable model of sustainable communities, Boulder, Colorado ia ideal given its historical commitment to sustainability and the presence of many world leaders in this area. Yet even with all of this, Boulder has been ineffective in meeting its sustainabilty goals. An investment in this project can leverage many existing efforts, and create a successful model that will be made available to comunities around the world.