Last week I returned from the 2016 GreenBiz Forum in Arizona energized to share all I learned in the ever changing and expanding world of sustainability. I've been attending GreenBIz events off and on since 2008 and they're always rewarding.The forum itself hosted more than 700 sustainability professionals who showed up with a passion and excitement that was palpable. They engaged with an intellectual hunger to share experiences and best practices with their peers and a collaborative spirit that, in my decade’s worth of experience in sustainability and commercial real estate, I still find especially inspiring and unique to our field. All this combined to make it an extraordinary week.
The common theme running through the presentations was a desire to elevate the sustainability conversation beyond strict energy efficiency numbers and explore the human element and societal impacts of green business and cleantech. The combination of the successes coming out of COP21 and debates emerging through the current US Presidential race seemed to fan a stronger flame in this already high energy and zealous group of professionals.
Here are my top 8 highlights from the event:
1. Having the word Robotics in your company name creates a lot of excitement about what you do. Though people were often disappointed that we don't actually build robots, they were pretty impressed by how we incorporate machine-learning into buildings.
2. Paul Hawken brought his decades of experience on stage in a conversation that was as educational as it was inspiring. While many applauded the progress created at COP21, he had a differing view that the 2 degree goal was akin to driving towards a cliff at 60 MPH and setting a goal to drive only 40 MPH. Clearly, he wants to see more from national leaders in regards to a solution to address climate change.
3. Meanwhile, Facebook Sustainability Guru Bill Weihl challenged corporate leaders to make a commitment to 100% renewable energy. Driving towards that North Star goal will save money for companies and help save the planet.
4. Facebook is not alone. A lot of companies are looking for solutions that will help employees engage in their company’s sustainability goals. I was thrilled to share how Building Robotics is helping organizations improve the office experience for their employees while saving energy.
5. Rupesh Shah took the stage to discuss how he left a high-profile Bay area job to bring solar power to poor, rural villages in India. He concluded his presentation with these poignant words, “when you want to put yourself in someone's shoes, you need to take off your own shoes.”
6. As a recent purchaser of a plug-in hybrid, I was excited to test-drive the 2017 GM Bolt. It will be 100% electric with a 200-mile range per charge, and only cost $30k.
7. I was happy to see that Building Robotics President Lindsay Baker’s presentation at Greenbiz VERGE last October on “Buildings that Adapt to People” and our +Comfy initiative continues to resonate with this audience. We’re looking forward to attending VERGE again this year to share our company’s report from the frontlines of technology and green building.
8. Finally, anyone who missed the amazing rendition of “Royals” by Greenbiz’s Shana Rappaport remixed with a sustainability theme, please reach out to me and I will share the full video of that performance.