Episode 9 - Interview with Director of Sustainability for the City of Orlando in Florida Part 2
Part two of Chris Castro’s interview tackles the bottom line of social entrepreneurship. Chris has mastered two of the big Ps, people, and planet, but what about the third one: profit? Chris delves into the business side of his enterprises to explain how doing good and doing well coincide with generating revenue. First up is Fleeting Farming, Chris’ nonprofit organization that transforms neighborhood lawns into produce-yielding farms. Revenue mechanisms attached to its services include: charging for garden installation, selling produce at farmer’s markets, and hosting corporate team building experiences. As Fleet Farming expands into other cities, the streams of revenue will continue to expand. Another example Chris discusses is his for-profit clean energy consulting firm, Citizen Energy, which is based in Washington D.C. Founded in 2012, Citizen Energy improves the energy and water efficiency of buildings through the use of technology. This is done by training students to assess and benchmark the status of the buildings. Then Citizen Energy helps finance improvements in efficiency by providing upgrades such as LED lighting and building controls. This is done with no upfront costs to the building owner. Over time, Citizen Energy recoups its investment by sharing in the building’s energy savings now that expenses have been reduced. The conversation then turns to Chris’ day job with the City of Orlando. In his current position as Director of Sustainability, Chris helps the city develop policy and programs. He is proud of the work he has done to ensure the energy efficiency of Orlando’s government buildings and, as a result, save the city money. Chris helped implement the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (PACE) that provides home and business owners with financing that can be used to improve water and energy efficiency for their properties. Instead of repaying the city through a traditional loan payment, the home and business owners pay off the financing through an added fee on their property taxes.
Another signature initiative for Chris has been Orlando’s Benchmarking and Transparency policy. This policy requires Orlando’s largest buildings to benchmark energy use and to report this data to the City. Orlando is one of just twenty-four cities in the country that has passed this policy. Ultimately, the adage of all work and no play does not apply to Chris. For him, it’s all play. His family and friends often join Chris in his endeavors. Sustainability is his passion and he has fun championing it.
For more information on topics discussed during the show, see the list below.