Monday, August 3, 2009
Green Economic Development
GTECH (Growth Through Energy and Community Health) began as a master's project for Andrew Butcher, Chris Koch and Matthew Ciccone, while they were attending the H. John Heinz III College at Carnegie Mellon. The initiative received support in its early days from Heinz College's Institute for Social Innovation. The company's unique strategy links urban redevelopment with environmental sustainability. GTECH aims to accomplish this lofty goal with a three-pronged approach: reclaiming blighted urban land, planting renewable bio-fuel crops, and providing community growth through job training.
Since graduating in 2007, the founders have already planted energy crops on almost 15 acres of previously vacant Pittsburgh land. Crops include sunflower, canola and switchgrass — all used in the production of bio-fuels like cellulosic ethanol and bio-diesel. These plants also absorb pollutants from the contaminated soil — what's called 'phytoremediating.'
Butcher and Koch received Echoing Green Fellowships in Social Entrepreneurship in 2008 for their work with GTECH, and the enterprise is expanding its impact beyond Pittsburgh.