Emerald Cities Collaborative

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Founded: 2010

Mission: The Emerald Cities Collaborative is a consortium of diverse organizations - businesses, unions, community organizations, development intermediaries, social justice advocates, and research and technical assistance providers - united around the goal of "greening" our metropolitan areas in high-road ways that advance equal opportunity, shared wealth, and democracy within them.

Washington, DC


Denise Fairchild
Denise Fairchild is the inaugural Executive Director of Emerald Cities. She has dedicated over 30 years of her life to strengthening housing, jobs, businesses and economic opportunities for low-income residents and communities domestically and internationally. In 1995, Dr. Fairchild founded and still chairs the Community and Economic Development (CED) Department at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, as well as an affiliated non-profit community development research and technical assistance organization, CDTech. She recently helped launch the Regional Economic Development Institute (REDI), a new initiative of Los Angeles Trade-Technical College to provide inner city residents with career and technical education for high growth/high demand jobs in the L.A. region. From 1989-1994, Dr. Fairchild directed the L.A. office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and is credited with raising over $100 million in equity, grants, and loans for community-based housing and commercial development projects and, generally, with building the non-profit housing and community development industry in the L.A. region.  Her civic and political appointments have included the California Commission on Regionalism, the California Economic Strategy Panel, the California Local Economic Development Association, the Urban Land Institute National Inner City Advisor, the Coalition for Women’s Economic Development and the Los Angeles Environmental Quality Board. She recently served as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s special advisor for South LA Investments.

Innovative Approach


Climate change is an international challenge that must be met by a national response. They recognize that existing market-driven models of green retrofits tend not to be the most sustainable because retrofits pass over low-income neighborhoods, weaken labor standards, and threaten the quality of work.

Innovation / New Solution

Beyond their partner Emerald Cities, ECC promotes Emerald Strategies nationwide that promote Emerald Goals to green cities, build communities, and strengthen democracy. They foster a comprehensive and equitable approach by presenting building blocks to individuals, organizations, and local governments interested in engaging in this work and by creating national programs with their member organizations.


ECC's first project is the comprehensive retrofit of America's urban building stock. This they propose to do city by city, while realizing as many gains from their joint and mutual assistance and learning as possible. Additionally, ECC offers access to useful resources on their website supported and provided by their member organizations as well as information about innovative green workforce policies. For example, ECC offers their “Recommendations on Developing the Market in Building Energy Efficiency.” The Efficiency Cities Network (ECN) is a webinar series hosted by ECC members COWS in collaboration with Green For All and their Retrofit America’s Cities Community of Practice. ECN is an informal policy-learning network of government staff, research and technical assistance providers, and NGOs currently active in or committed to making scaled efforts at high-road energy retrofits of urban building stock.


Expert Comments

  • This is a new organization devoted to scaling up energy efficiency, clean technical job creation, and workforce development by providing essential technical assistance, relationships, etc.

  • This new organization helps communities work together to achieve equity and environmental gains. It is a national coalition of community, environmental, labor, and business leaders.

From the Nonprofit

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Key Endorsements

  • Green For All
  • Members include: Center On Wisconsin Strategy (COWS)
  • Building and Construction Trades Department
  • Community Action Partnership
  • The Corps Network
  • The Council of Large Public Housing Authorities
  • Enterprise Community Partners
  • The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
  • PolicyLink
  • Donors include: Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • The Kresge Foundation
  • The Rockefeller Foundation
  • Living Cities

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