Demand-Side Reduction Cooperatives

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A sustainability proposal by Jeffrey Sterling:

"The global economy is broken because it has evolved and mutated to serve the needs corporations (govt corps and fortune 1000 corps) not human beings. Many of the commonskeeper and caregiver roles that are a critical function for civil society are either considered undervalued chores or the responsibility of some bureaucracy. It is imperative to take back responsibility for our community commons and form cooperative organizations that work to reduce the demand for resources and services that are not local.

We need to create a new language and toolkit for a network of community economies (geographical and virtual) where people can aggregate demand for products/services and fulfill those needs without the middleman (aka Fortune 1000 corporations). As we evolve our new economy we must find ways to allow many kinds of public benefit organizations to flourish and collaborate by being compensated for overall demand reduction. As such, the future of resilient, eco-sustainable communities is in demand-side reduction cooperatives. Our ablility to set the agenda lies in our control of the entire demand-side of the economic equation and our ability to self-organize using the Internet.

Let's take a closer look at the community infrastructure from the supply-side and the demand-side.

On the supply side a community may have a electricity company, a water company, a gas company, oil companies (gasoline), and waste stream companies (sewer, trash, recycle, compost). Each company is siloed and views their job as maintaining and operating a supply chain for an ever growing demand for their service. Some pay lip service to demand reduction at times but it is a "fox in the hen house" situation.

Now suppose community members created a demand side reduction cooperative, that was funded through a performance based contract placed on each of the supply side companies, that provided demand side reduction services to it's members.


- Catching rainwater in cisterns for graywater and freshwater supply that eliminated the need for the next groundwater well or dam.

- Superinsulating all homes in a community to reduce the number of new powerplants or a new gas pipeline.

- Creating a smart microgrid that will provide peaking power negawatts as an independent power producer and provide solar collectors for peak cooling as well as battery backup storage and essential power to computers in the home.

- Creating a community wide distributed generation system that provides essential power to the community in case of disaster plus CHP (combined heat power) to the local hospital/greenhouse/community pool.

- Creating an on demand local ridesharing and shopping delivering service using community members and their vehicles to reduce the demand for cars/roads/gasoline and providing jobs for underemployed people and reducing the demand for underfunding government services.

- Creating community reuse services that reduce the demand for recycling and waste removal that reduces the need for landfills.

The basic idea is that siloed supply side companies are not in the business of reducing demand they are in the business of increasing supply which damages the environment and is not sustainable. Creating community-run demand side reduction coops (that are voluntary) will make a community resilient, sustainable and will create work for community members. Having a community-owned cloud will make the integration of demand side reduction services into the life of a community possible. Also establishing performance based contracts where demand reductions are measured with make it possible for demand side reduction services to be cash flow positive because demand reduction decreases the need for supply which keep the money in the community.

Given a choice people are usually willing to do more with less. Integrating our demand-side consumption using demand-side reduction cooperatives and other community benefit entities wil create meaningful work within one's own community and make our community more resilient and eco-sustainable." (NextNet, July 2011)