Friday, May 29, 2009

Carrotmob funds efficiency in Portland

Portland is starting its pilot Clean Energy Fund project soon to provide on-bill financing for energy efficiency retrofits in certain neighborhoods. But a new, slightly more chaotic version of financing sustainable upgrades will come to Portland in June -- Carrotmob. The movement, which started in San Francisco, is essentially a flash mob or "reverse boycott" that floods chosen businesses with a crowd of customers in support of their sustainability efforts. Carrotmob Portland will have its first event June 21st, at Hotlips Pizza on Hawthorne. All the store's revenue that day will go toward energy efficiency upgrades at Hotlips.

It's more of a social movement to draw attention to sustainable businesses than a doable funding mechanism for the city. But it seems like a model that could work for some businesses, with or without the flash mob. Artichoke Music on Hawthorne, for example, was able to raise enough money through some folk music shows for a full heating, ventilation and air-conditioning upgrade this year. I had the pleasure of attending their first air-conditioned show a few weeks ago. Not all businesses have such a devoted following, however.

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