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METRO TALK HOW GREEN IS SPOKANE?


as well renovate it to make it energy efficient like all buildings the company works on throughout the country. “If we don’t make it energy efficient, the


building won’t be saved,” says Pearman- Gillman. “It doesn’t make sense to go build something new, if you haven’t made what’s already there energy efficient.” McKinstry’s idea of being green, Pearman-


Gillman says, is to simply not waste anything. Pearman-Gillman also strongly believes the


aforementioned film, An Inconvenient Truth, was a big catalyst for behavioral change in our country. “I believe Al Gore’s work was very important in getting people to wake up,” she says. McKinstry built its success on being green


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and promoting green products. Being green and being prosperous is one way those in the clean energy industry like to operate in order to remain in business. It is an interesting, specific way to look at the issue. Greater Spokane Incorporated’s Third


Annual State of the Green Economy event on June 15, 2011,


included a panel that echoed


the prosperity theme. Mayor Verner, who was on the panel, said in


the next one to three years Spokane is poised to solidify the growth of the clean industry. Overby, who was not on the panel, seems to agree. “Look at us,” he says about FlyBack Energy.


“Two years ago there were three founders. A year ago there were six [employees]. Today there are 20. These are all high paying jobs.” Being


the leader in state—can be. Kim Zentz, Executive comes clean energy and


sustainability business practices is something many believe Spokane—and to a larger extent, the


Director at Innovate Washington (formerly Sirti) and another State of the Green Economy panelists, is one of those people. “When it


to clean technology,


we need to be the point guard and lead the nation in assists,” she says, while adding that the Spokane region already has the resources needed to be a leader. Innovate Washington helps innovative


technology companies develop and get off the ground. It assists many companies in the clean energy industry. The City has already designated land in


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34 SPOKANE CDA • July - August • 2011


the West Plains as the West Spokane Energy District. The area was designated with the intention of generating clean energy industry job growth. The Waste to Energy Facility and


Recycling Center are already in the district, and Verner hopes Spokane can attract other energy-efficient businesses to the area. “There’s the energy, the steam, the hot


water and the strategic location to locate there on our footprint or in the immediate vicinity,” she says. So how green and sustainable is Spokane


as a community? We’ve seen what the city government is doing, and we’ve seen how some businesses are creating opportunities in green and energy-efficient products. But does that make Spokane green and sustainable? “I believe that we have a foundation that’s


green at this point,” says Verner. “It’s not a question of whether we need to be green. Our community understands that we must be, and it’s a point of continuous improvement at this time.” Verner’s philosophy comes from her youth


living on a family farm. “My grandfather would never dream of destroying his own source of means of living,” she says. Like Verner, McKinstry’s longtime belief in being green and sustainable comes naturally. That’s why it shares the City’s vision. “I believe Spokane has done a great job of saving its historic buildings, and that’s being green in the first place,” says Pearman- Gillman, before adding that she believes the Spokane community still has a ways to go in sustainable practices. Overby believes Spokane is on the right


path and is optimistic things can only get better. “What I like is that the mayor and the city want to be as green as possible,” he says. “How far we are, I don’t know. From the business side, in our region here, we’re going to have more green energy equipment companies than in most places.” No matter how green and sustainable


Spokane is, the consensus seems to be that sustainable business practices will run the show. Overby is succinct when sharing his thoughts on how Spokane can become the leader. “Innovation is our only hope,” he says.


Kevin Dudley is the Marketing and


Communications Coordinator at Greater Spokane Incorporated. For more information on green and sustainable business opportunities in the area, visit www.cleennw.org.


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