Boston’s Government Center program is a great example of both local government action and federal support in sustainable matters. This type of interaction can also have a productive role outside of renewing government property, into individual communities. On a more local level, the Sustainable Chinatown project is characteristic of Boston’s private/public partnership approach to green efforts. Granted $100,000 by the Barr Foundation, the project represents cooperation between the Boston Redevelopment Authority, City of Boston, Asian American Civic Association, utilities and community businesses in Chinatown. According to our friends at the BRA,
The goals of the project are to help Chinatown businesses address the issues of rising energy, water, and solid waste management costs by providing practical and affordable solutions to help business owners save money and reduce environmental impacts, while building long term sustainable business expertise capacity in the community.
Sustainable Chinatown also demonstrates how sustainable changes aren’t just good for the environment, but very much good for business as well. Building efficiency is a natural starting point for efficiency gains both environmental and economical, so Sustainable Chinatown will offer energy efficiency upgrades, waste management and renewable energy solutions. Already, Chinatown businesses have undergone over 50 audits and 25 upgrades, indicating positive local buy-in.
The process starts with Sustainable Chinatown Program Director Emily Damiano (who herself has worked in Chinatown for over 11 years) approaching a local firm with the proposal to perform an energy audit. Then, a written agreement is signed, and the audit takes place to determine what the building’s upgrade needs are. Needed materials like light bulbs are then delivered to the site for installation.
The ultimate goal is to help local business manage costs in an efficient, sustainable way that also contributes to their continued economic success. While it can be difficult for local businesses to know where to start, organizations like Sustainable Chinatown serve a important role in both informing and assisting these communities in their sustainability efforts.