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This post is authored by Matt Lerner, Citymart’s Research Manager. He is responsible for Citymart’s solutions database and data strategy.
How Citymart looks at procurement
At Citymart, public procurement is a process in which goals come first. Our software helps municipal governments purchase goods and services by focusing on the problems they are trying to solve. Users submit a description of the problems their city is facing, and Citymart’s algorithm compiles a varied list of solutions that can address them in real-time. Instead of focusing on one product, industry or geographic area, Citymart goes wide. When a city logs into the Citymart Opportunity Builder, our software peers into our database of more than 26,000 innovative urban solutions and asks: what kinds of solutions can solve this problem?
Let’s take the desire of many cities to improve environmental sustainability. Many of these projects have one goal in common: to reduce carbon emissions.
A narrow, old-fashioned approach to this problem might hone in immediately on one type of approach-- say, electric cars. Electric cars are a great solution! But Citymart’s goal is to present our users with a complete view of all great ways there are to reduce emissions. We want cities to consider what best fits their needs from the broadest range of solutions. This way, they’ll be able to most effectively meet their goals.
For projects focused on a reduction in carbon emissions, Citymart’s solutions algorithm yields dozens of different approaches, from sustainability consulting to wastewater treatment. In the chart below, we’ve categorized such solutions into broad groups. Though some groups are much bigger than others, we present users with a wide range of solution types so that they can get an idea of the different approaches available.
Scrolling through the Citymart Opportunity Builder, which shows users all of their relevant solutions, a city user might pick out three particularly interesting solutions: LED lighting, sustainable building, and car sharing. Let’s take a look at some of these solutions!
Approaching carbon emissions in three different ways
LED lighting is a great way to cut carbon produced by electricity usage, and is within reach of many city governments. Ann Arbor, Michigan, for example, cut carbon emissions by its municipal government by 4%, simply by deploying energy-efficient LEDs as streetlights. And with Citymart’s help, San Francisco installed a smarter, more energy-efficient lighting system. Citymart’s database includes companies such as Brightgreen and ReneSola, which produce energy-efficient lighting products that can be deployed in a city to rapidly reduce carbon emissions. These solutions are a great fit for municipal governments that can act rapidly to replace their own lighting fixtures, or that are interested in incentivizing residents to purchase energy-efficient bulbs.
Green building practices are another promising solution for emissions reduction. A single Vermont housing development cut energy costs by half and reduced CO2 emissions by more than 20 tons annually simply by taking advantage of modern green building practices. Cities looking to reduce carbon emissions by designing their procurement with Citymart discover firms like Verdical Group and Ecolution Consulting, which can help them design green building projects and achieve similar successes.
For cities that choose to target transportation as a means of reducing carbon emissions, car sharing is an excellent solution. One study found per-household greenhouse gas reductions of up to 18% as a result of car sharing usage in cities, while research on a college campus demonstrated that Zipcar, the most prominent car sharing company in Citymart’s database, reduced emissions by up to 2.6% per driver.
Zipcar’s environmental impact would come as no surprise to its founder, Robin Chase, who targeted sustainability from the very beginning. “The environmental piece of it was obvious”, Chase said in an interview. “if I hadn’t perceived a sustainable business model, I wouldn’t have started it. I don’t think I would have started a business that had no social benefits because I wasn’t interested in spending 120 hours/week for years doing something that was just to make money.”
Citymart, like the urban innovators who use our software to design and promote procurements, is focused on outcomes. That’s why we present cities with the whole universe of relevant solutions when they come to us with a goal like “reduce carbon emissions.” This is just one of the more than 500 goals that Citymart serves across all urban services. We know that urban innovators make their best decisions when they have all the options in front of them, and our platform enables them to access the market intelligence they need in order to turn every procurement into an opportunity to innovate.