There is a clever Chinese proverb that states, “If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up in the place we are headed”. From June 7-9, in one of the Detroit’s most unique and historic hotels, over 200 successful green professionals gathered to share ideas on how to advance the movement for more environmentally friendly and sustainable business practices.
Experts in low-waste manufacturing, energy efficiency, green product design, pollution prevention, and green screen chemicals policy gathered to promote and share their organization’s most recent, useful, and innovative approaches to environmental sustainability. More than 50 educational breakout sessions occurred which allowed the scientists, practitioners, and regulators to describe and demonstrate their new ideas. Most of the ideas were practical applications on how to conserve energy, reduce water and material waste, while promoting a healthier workplace within their organization.
GreeningDetroit.com was the media sponsor for the 8th annual National Environmental Sustainability Summit. The summit, which took place in the Westin Book Cadillac hotel in Detroit, attracted national and local leaders from nonprofits, government entities, various universities, and green businesses. The Summit’s co-hosts included: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Terrachord LLC. Many other organizations were in attendance from around the country and even government representatives participated from Canada.
The three day conference began Monday night with a panel of “The Big Three” – Chrysler, Ford and General Motors — who offered insight on sustainability trends and challenges in one of our country’s most critical economic sectors-automobile manufacturing. During the 3 day conference, professionals in architecture, construction, consulting, electrical services, energy auditing, environmental law, energy management, waste solutions, finance, tax incentive counseling, and renewable energies participated in the teaching and exchanging of programs, practices and ideas with other experts in their fields. There was a major focus on how greener businesses not only save consumers money, but also successfully prevent pollution and waste.
There was a general consensus among summit attendees that it is crucial to attack the cultural attitudes towards environmental sustainability. Several examples were given that that an organization’s cultural change must begin with the senior management’s support and promotion. It is the management who must agree to purchase sustainable and energy efficient materials, build sustainability “teams” to implement new policies and train employees through informational programs on reducing energy, water and material waste within the office. Employee recognition programs and competitive challenges were highly recommended as a means of supporting the credibility of the organization’s mission.
It has been said that in order to “sustain our future, we must start by rebuilding our past”. The summit’s collaborative setting allowed for professionals of different industries to create valuable and lasting partnerships while discovering new ways to rebuild our past. The National Environmental Sustainability Summit allowed leading environmental professionals from diverse sectors across the country to come together for three dynamic days of education, training and networking. The conference accomplished its goal of demonstrating that green, sustainable business offers vast opportunities for cost savings and can have tangible positive effects on any corporate bottom line. Reducing material and energy waste, mitigating harmful chemicals and pollution prevention are important steps that organizations and the people working within them can take to begin to positively impact our environment.
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Author: Robert E. Mattler, Green Agent Man / Daniel Edelson, representing GreeningDetroit.com