Research & Development

Green Economy

Green Economy Working Group

The Green Economy Working Group was established to provide a forum for members to align and coordinate efforts in the green economy, identify emerging areas of opportunity in the field, and drive an agenda that promotes economic growth in low-income communities. Across the fields of energy efficiency, green stormwater infrastructure, and food, the Working Group supports access to opportunity for low-income people through energy savings, greater quality employment, and healthier communities.

Current Investments and Initiatives

Green Stormwater Infrastructure Portfolio

In early 2012, the Working Group began to explore opportunities within the nascent green stormwater infrastructure field. Cities like Philadelphia are increasingly adopting green stormwater infrastructure as a cost-effective solution to meeting Clear Water Act mandates. To ensure that these new investments benefit low-income people, ELP Advisors is identifying policy and practice recommendations to leverage green stormwater investments to create career pathways for low-income workers.

Jobs in Food Businesses Portfolio

In 2012, the Working Group developed a grant portfolio to address the poor quality of jobs in the food systems. To achieve these, we are partnering with Inner City Advisors and UpLift Solutions to elevate successful models of food retail and manufacturing businesses that embed quality job creation for low-income people. In particular, we are interested in learning about how to grow small- and mid-sized business while creating jobs for local low-income residents.

Energy Efficiency Multifamily Housing Finance Portfolio

In 2011, the Working Group approved a grant portfolio to support innovative models of multifamily building retrofit programs. The portfolio was selected to learn about the critical components needed to create an enabling environment for a multifamily retrofit market to achieve scale, with a focus on utility partnerships, demand generation, data collection, and private financing.

New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation (New York, NY). The purpose of this grant is to support the establishment of a data-driven financing model for retrofits of multifamily housing stock in New York City.

Green For All’s MPower Model (Portland, OR). The purpose of this grant is to support the establishment of a tariff-based financing model for retrofits of affordable multifamily housing. The MPower Model also incorporates a High Road Agreement to ensure quality job creation occurs as a result of the retrofits.

CNT Energy Savers (Chicago, IL). The purpose of this grant is to support the expansion of the existing multi-family Energy Savers program to reach a larger share of the affordable housing market in the Chicago area. A close partner in this work includes Community Investment Corporation.

Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future –SAHF (Southern CA). The purpose of this grant to support the development of SAHF’s Ratepayer Integrated On-bill Payment Pilot (RIOPP), a pioneering on-bill financing program with two utilities. RIOPP also offers a package of financing tools tailored to multifamily housing projects. A main partner in this work is California Housing Partnership Corporation.

Past Investments and Initiatives

Catalytic Convening on Energy Efficiency

In collaboration with the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the MacArthur Foundation, Living Cities convened over 100 leaders from federal agencies, cities, philanthropy, and the private sector (lenders, utilities, building owners, and investors) to discuss how to advance the energy efficiency industry. The goal of the meeting was to lay the groundwork for overcoming barriers to advancing energy efficiency retrofit work in multifamily and commercial building markets, with a particular focus on overcoming data and financing barriers to spur investment. This convening
helped forge ongoing partnerships that are helping advance the work of Living Cities and its partners. For more information, please visit here.

Green Workforce

In January 2009, Living Cities issued a request for proposals for workforce initiatives employing a demand-driven, sector-based strategy to prepare workers and jobseekers for employment in clean energy industries, specifically energy efficiency, retrofitting, renewable energy and/or green building. The aim of the funding was to help low-skilled jobseekers or incumbent workers enter into career paths and good jobs and customize workforce solutions for employers in clean energy industries within a regional labor market.

Green Boot Camp

In June 2009, Living Cities convened 16 teams of city and state officials for two days of intensive peer learning at Harvard. The boot camp, organized in response to an unprecedented investment in energy efficiency through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, was designed to lay the foundation for cities to scale their work and spark a focus on economic development and social goals at the earliest stages of development. For more information, please visit here.


  • Margot Brandenburg, The Rockefeller Foundation
  • Sam Marks, Deutsche Bank


  • Amy Brusiloff, Bank of America
  • Lois DeBacker, The Kresge Foundation
  • Wendy Jackson, The Kresge Foundation
  • Michelle Knapik, Surdna Foundation
  • Lillian Kuri, The Cleveland Foundation
  • Jerry Maldonado, Ford Foundation
  • Jeffrey Meyers, Citigroup
  • Neal Parikh, Morgan Stanley
  • Bruce Shlein, Citigroup
  • Debra Schwartz, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Scot Spencer, The Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Mijo Vodopic, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

If you have any questions, please contact Juan Sebastian Arias at