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Breaking into the Market: End of the Green Pipeline

April 22, 2009

One of the biggest challenges for green technologies and products is breaking into the market. Achieving the critical mass that allows production volume to drive down prices is difficult, particularly when the commodity being sold is, at least initially, more expensive to make because more of the actual cost of production is captured in the green company's business model.

Successful state, university and local TBED strategies to grow green(er) companies help fund product demonstrations and early adoption strategies to help with market penetration.  In Toronto, a broad group of CEOs took matters into their own hands. 

Greening Greater Toronto has announced the creation of a working group comprised of more than 25 senior executives who will encourage and lead other organizations to buy products and services that minimize environmental impact and create green jobs. The working group, called the Green Procurement Leadership Council, represents approximately $40 billion in annual buying power.

In addition to creating the Green Procurement Leadership Council, Greening Greater Toronto plans to:

  • Host the Green Procurements Marketplace event designed to present innovative green technologies and services that deliver environmental benefits and positive business returns;
  • Create a green supplier database identifying high potential technologies available;
  • Hold strategy forums convening industry and business leaders to develop strategies to advance the profile and adoption of high potential green technologies;
  • Create a toolbox consolidating demonstrated best practices promoting green procurement principles; and,
  • Develop a procurement portal that would provide an online listing of green suppliers to include economic and performance data for specific products and programs.

Toronto is not alone. Many U.S. states and local governments also are implementing green purchasing initiatives, including California, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Washington. However, there is still room for progress. In July 2008, the National Association of Counties released a survey report on county green programs, which indicates 84 percent of the 147 counties that responded to the questionnaire do not have a green purchasing policy.

As a resource for organizations that are thinking about buying green, the National Association of State Procurement Officials has developed a Green Purchasing Guide to use in navigating the sea of information surrounding the adoption of a responsible purchasing program. The guide is available at: http://www.naspo.org/content.cfm/id/Green_Guide.

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