This spring, we’re running our first clean power program in the city of brotherly love: Philadelphia. We were drawn to Philadelphia because of the city’s commitment to sustainability and because Philadelphians are already creating new ways of doing business. It's also where we came across our partner, Common Market.
Common Market works to strengthen local farms in the Delaware Valley while making the local bounty accessible to everyone. They aggregate demand across the city and connect organizations like schools, hospitals, grocery stores and workplaces with sustainably produced food from regional farms.
Will Griffin, Common Market driver, unloading flats of New Jersey grown tomatoes.
This model, called Civic Consumption, is a cornerstone of Groundswell’s work as well. Like Common Market, we’re leveraging the purchasing power of like-minded organizations to negotiate lower rates and increase access. But at Groundswell, we’re applying this framework to clean energy. In 2013, we helped 66 organizations save about $160,000 in electricity costs just by aggregating their purchasing power.
Building a partnership was a natural fit, especially as Common Market looks to reduce its environmental impact. "We're a small organization, but our line of work uses a lot of energy," explained Leah Pillsbury, Common Market's Director of Communication.
Common Market has had a deep impact on regional food distribution. They purchase from over 75 growers and processors, and deliver six days a week to over 200 public and private schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, workplaces, grocery stores, nonprofits and faith institutions throughout the Delaware Valley. In the past five years, Common Market has aggregated $6 million in sales of regionally-sourced food.
Common Market's business model
Last year, to accommodate their growing distribution network, Common Market moved into its own 70,000-square foot warehouse and built a custom 5,500-square foot cooler complex. The cooler maintains four distinct temperature zones year round. When looking to reduce their carbon footprint, they turned to Groundswell.
“Being part of the Groundswell’s group was a natural decision for us. It's about aligning our values as an organization with our energy choices," says Pillsbury.
New Jersey corn and Pennsylvania apples awaiting delivery in Common Market's cooler that will soon switch to clean energy.
Through Civic Consumption, both Groundswell and Common Market are able to extend access to sustainable products that many communities don’t have equal access to. We think it is a match made in sustainable heaven.