Issue: December 2009
Cleveland’s new chief of sustainability says building businesses on eco-friendly ideals is the way to a brighter economic future for the region.
Andrew Watterson was first asked to create a more energy-efficient City Hall. Now, four years after joining Mayor Frank Jackson’s administration, the 32-year-old has been charged with finding ways to make Greater Cleveland’s entire economy greener.
This August, Watterson organized Jackson’s Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit, a secular revival meeting for businesspeople and civic activists looking to develop thriving commerce around environmental principles. About 700 people gathered in the city’s convention center for three days of brainstorming guided by Case Western Reserve University management professor David Cooperrider. Watterson’s promotion to Cleveland’s new cabinet-level chief of sustainability post came soon after.
Twenty groups that formed at the summit are now gathering to bring ideas from the meeting to life — a new power plant, an energy lab and incubator, a rail system powered by advanced energy are a few. We recently talked to Watterson about the eco-friendly economy he hopes to help build for Cleveland. — Erick Trickey
You’ve been in charge of sustainability at City Hall for 4 1/2 years. What are your biggest accomplishments so far?
Mayor Jackson passed an advanced energy portfolio standard that requires Cleveland Public Power to purchase from advanced and renewable energy resources. We have big targets: by 2015, 15 percent; by 2020, 20 percent; by 2025, 25 percent.
What are the most important things that happened at the summit?
I think the most important thing was that it happened, and it was successful, that it got a whole bunch of people from all spectrums of life in our community to talk about this topic. It wasn’t just the choir that was in that room.
What are some of the outcome groups?
What will a sustainable local economy look like? How will we know when it’s here?
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