In crisis, there’s always opportunity

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With all the talk surrounding economic angst, the common theme emerging is uncertainty. Who knows what to global downturn will inflict in terms of pain, or how long it will last? But for entrepreneurs, here’s the upside: the bigger the upheaval, the greater the opportunity for businesses to develop effective solutions, especially when they act together.

Which is why this an interesting and timely initiative: a group of stakeholders are set on transforming a 12,000 hectare commercial and industrial park around Toronto’s Pearson airport into North America’s largest eco-business zone.

Partners in Project Green is the culmination of a partnership between the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA). The idea is to encourage businesses to share environmental best practices so they can significantly reduce energy costs, and realize economies of scale by collaborating together.

Among the projects that are in the planning stages: green building retrofits, expansion of greenspaces, waste-recovery projects and smart commuting initiatives. Also planned is the creation of a district energy system that would collect waste steams produced by electricity generators for reuse.

It’s an ambitious plan but one that has the potential to show that by harnessing the brain power of Canada’s biggest industrial park — 12,500 businesses, with some 355,000 employees — crisis can lead to an opportunity for real change.