Guy Knoblich (left) and Kevin Bell lift a solar panel into its place in a 16-panel array on the roof of a Camano Island home in 2012. Everett City Councilman Paul Roberts is leading an effort to help grow the “green” economy in Washington. One of the first steps is assessing what’s being done in the state. (Herald file)

Effort aims to build green economy in Washington

Washington state sits in a unique position to emerge as a leader in the green economy not just nationally, but also globally.

That’s the opinion of Paul Roberts, the Everett city councilman who is also the past president of the Association of Washington Cities.

He’s working with the association and its nonprofit arm, The Center for Quality Communities, to bring together businesses, government and other voices to make it happen.

The first step needs to be an analysis of the state’s strengths and weaknesses in the green economy, Roberts said.

“Part of this is an inventory on what’s going on out there and how does that relate to what’s most likely going to happen in the next 20 years,” Roberts said. “And how do we pull these things together to make this the center where if I want to go work in that field I want to come here.”

The group is seeking to raise $70,000 from private foundations and corporations to do that study. If the money can be raised, the group hopes to conduct the study next year.

One of the advantages for the state is a private sector community — people in the legal, business, finance and insurance worlds — willing to work on the issue, Roberts said.

“They’re not wondering whether this is happening around the globe,” Roberts said. “They’re on the cutting edge of how to respond to a changing world and a changing climate.”

In just the past several years, there’s been a progression in how people respond to climate change, Peter B. King, CEO of the Association for Washington Cities.

King went to a conference several years ago in Arizona about climate change and received several questioning emails from his membership about why he was attending. Now he said he’s not getting those questions from his members.

“We’ve come a long way in a pretty short time in people recognizing that we need to be proactive,” King said.

Roberts said what will most likely be impacted by a changing climate is: water; energy; agriculture and forestry; and the types of materials to construct buildings.

“In each of those four areas, the state of Washington has some pretty deep roots,” Roberts said. “We’re not somewhere out of the picture in terms of any of those sectors.”

The state also is home to several top research universities. The state’s top companies have a global supply reach, including Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon.

There’s available manufacturing capacity in the Puget Sound region from Everett and Arlington and also in Pierce County.

He notes that countries around the world are at trying to capitalize on the green economy. A changing climate creates challenges, but also opportunities, Roberts said. “Adaptation and mitigation has been described — not by me, but I love the description — managing the unavoidable and avoiding the unmanageable,” Roberts said.

The first step is to figure where the state is at and where it needs to go.

“Are we going to solve climate change? No,” Roberts said. “Are we going to be able to turn some corners in terms of reducing our carbon footprint and greenhouse footprint… that’s what needs to happen.”

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Glacier Lanes won’t be spared: Owners decide to close forever

Bowlers statewide are rallying to open venues shut by COVID rules, but this Everett business isn’t waiting.

Marysville sues Arlington over plan for 500 apartments

Marysville worries the major project on 51st Avenue NE will gum up traffic at a nearby intersection.

Snohomish County PUD embraces ‘smart’ meters despite concerns

A handful of customers said they were worried about privacy, peak-hour rate increases and safety.

Big new apartment complex anchors Broadway’s transformation

The seven-story, 140-unit Kinect @ Broadway is one of several facelifting projects in Everett’s core.

Dining in the street is now an official thing in Everett

With a free permit, businesses can expand outdoor seating to street parking areas — and fencing is provided.

Rep. Larsen tours small businesses given federal PPP loans

The congressman said leaders in Washington D.C. continue to negotiate for further COVID-19 relief.

Pop into this Everett pop-up store for new vinyl records

Upper Left Records will offer albums from local bands and new pressings of classic recordings.

Everett’s new equity manager is ready to roll up her sleeves

In her new job, Kay Barnes will work to ensure that the city’s staff reflects Everett’s diversity.

Everett startup makes a swift pivot from in-person to online

Abacus links hobbyists, crafters and artists with people who want to learn new skills — virtually.

FAA: Boeing pressured safety workers at S.C. aircraft plant

Federal officials are seeking to fine Boeing $1.25 million for practices related to 787 inspection oversight.

Tourism takes a vacation, and many businesses are hurting

With people staying home, do you scale back activities and events — or do you close?

Microsoft tries to salvage deal to buy TikTok, appease Trump

The president had floated plans for an outright ban of the app on national security grounds.