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A Win for Metro Business Planning in the Puget Sound

Yesterday the U.S. Economic Development Administration announced the winners of its i6 Green Challenge grant, awarding $12 million to six regions to accelerate clean technology commercialization.  

Of particular note is an energy efficiency gambit being developed in the Puget Sound region.

In that case, a portion of the $1.3 million of federal support that will now flow to Washington’s state’s Clean Energy Partnership will be dedicated towards the building out of BETI, the Building Efficiency Testing and Integration (BETI) Center and Demonstration Network. BETI is of more than passing interest to us  because the testing net work was developed by a steering committee of industry experts and community stakeholders as part of the region’s metropolitan business planning effort, spearheaded by the Puget Sound Regional Council in conjunction with the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.  BETI will be a physical living laboratory space for innovators in the energy efficiency field to test their products, designs, and services prior to launching them into the marketplace. When built out, the concept will be an example of a U.S. metropolitan region examining its economic position, assessing needs and gaps, and moving assertively to challenge governments, philanthropists, and private sector to invest in potentially game-changing interventions.    

In that sense, with the prospect of a state match and copious follow-on private investment down the road, the i6 Green win demonstrates the potential power of bottom-up intentional economic development strategies.