Institutions in the United States are undergoing modifications that present direct challenges for the environment and society and may result in institutional uncertainty and instability. This article explores whether innovation intermediaries can be employed as a key component of a strategy to create a window of opportunity for green job creation, infrastructure changes, and technological innovation in response to these types of institutional modifications. Based on a systematic literature review, this article outlines a framework that combines institutional modifications with technological innovation and infrastructure development as part of an economic development strategy. Important findings are that connections between innovation intermediaries, such as incubator and accelerator centers, niche actors, such as green champions, and regime actors, such as policy entrepreneurs, show potential to contribute to a green economic development strategy but require further examination for the specific roles played by policy entrepreneurs to help create the conditions for scaling niche experiments and simultaneously disrupting the regime. The key contribution is in defining the role of sustainability-oriented innovation intermediaries at linking local, state and business actions in order to scale-up and influence green economic development in a politically feasible manner during times of institutional uncertainty and instability.
Implementing energy conservation initiatives within public schools, including both behavioral changes as well as building retrofits, can generate cost saving and educational benefits. However, the level of energy efficiency improvements that can be achieved may depend on the socio-economic characteristics of the school or the underlying district. The purpose of this research is to identify and examine the factors that have a role in influencing the adoption of energy-saving practices and/or building retrofits within Oklahoma’s public schools. In order to investigate these factors, a survey was administered to public school administrators across the state. The results illustrate different factors that drive schools to make decisions associated with energy conservation and retrofitting efforts. A comparative analysis between different types of schools (e.g., rural vs. urban, low- vs. high-income) was also conducted to discover the combination of characteristics that are associated with energy-saving measures. The findings could help school administrators and teachers understand how they might adopt new behaviors or technologies.
Due to its significant carbon footprint and cost-effectiveness for upgrades, the commercial property sector is important for climate change mitigation. Although barriers to energy system changes, such as funding, financing and information, are well recognized, Energy Star property owners and managers are successfully overcoming these barriers and instigating energy efficiency upgrades, renewable energy installations, and behavior and management programs. To examine the decision-making process that leads to energy performance improvements, a national survey of property owners and management organizations of buildings that earned an Energy Star score of 75 or higher was conducted. The extent to which energy upgrades were considered strategic investments motivated by environmental sustainability or corporate social responsibility, or financial investments motivated by payback period or return-on-investment criteria, was contingent upon the property type and type of energy project. Environmental sustainability was found to be an important motivation for energy projects in office spaces in general, but in the case of smaller office spaces was often combined with motivations for corporate social responsibility. Energy projects on education properties were motivated by financial investment. Building envelope and mechanical efficiency upgrades were considered financial investments, while renewable energy, green roofs, and water conservation technologies were considered environmental sustainability initiatives.
Solar garden, photo courtesy of SunShare Community Solar
Gliedt T, Parker P, 2010, “Dynamic capabilities for strategic green advantage: Green electricity purchasing in North American firms, SMEs, NGOs and agencies” Global Business and Economics Review, 12(3), 171-195
North American businesses, social economy organisations and government agencies are tackling the challenges of declining non-renewable energy resources and climate change by voluntarily purchasing green electricity (GE). This study uses a survey of 213 organisations that voluntarily purchase GE to test the influence of green institutional and green resource-based factors on the purchase decision. Components of green institutional theory and the green resource-based view of the firm were found to have only a secondary or indirect influence on the voluntary decision to purchase GE. In contrast, the overwhelming importance attributed by respondents to the role of champions suggests that internal agency should be incorporated into future studies examining voluntary environmental decisions from an organisational perspective. The dynamic capabilities process, defined as the interaction between champions and environmental structures, can generate strategic green advantage if champions use environmental structures to emphasise: 1) environmental benefits; 2) marketing and green image benefits; 3) the GE purchase as a hedge against fossil-fuel price uncertainty.
Solar farm, photo courtesy of SunShare Community Solar
Gliedt T, Berkhout T, Parker P, Doucet J, 2010, “Voluntary environmental decision-making in firms: Green electricity purchases and the role of champions” International Journal of Business Environment, 3(3), 308-328
This study investigates the corporate decision to voluntarily purchase premium-priced Green Electricity (GE) by examining the internal and external factors which influence environmental decision making. In-depth interviews were conducted with eight paired firms in Alberta, Canada. Firms purchasing GE typically employed a top-down decision-making process, while firms characterised by a participative process did not. An internal driver (environmental champion) was more significant than external factors (regulations, stakeholder pressure) at influencing firms to voluntarily adopt GE purchasing, while organisational culture was found to moderate the effect of drivers. Cost is a common inhibitor to green purchase decisions, but customer (oil industry) perceptions and government regulations were also identified in some cases.
Parker P, Gliedt T, 2010, “Integrated energy resource management”, in Resource and Environmental Management in Canada: Addressing Conflict and Uncertainty Ed B Mitchell 4th Edition (Oxford University Press, London) pp 154-185