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ASU senior landing major corporate sponsors for next ‘Green Summit’

By: Don Kirkland

April 19, 2008   

The 4,000 people who lined up for Chris Samila’s first Green Summit may look like a drop in the environmental bucket compared to this year’s expected extravaganza, which already is overflowing with some of the country’s biggest-name corporate sponsors.

Samila is an ASU senior who launched a budding career in sustainability last year by engineering a kickoff “green” conference on the college campus.

Now, he’s taken a semester away from classes to coordinate the huge planning effort that is under way for a 2008 summit Sept. 5-6, this year at Phoenix Convention Center.

“Last year, we thought of it more as a mom-and-pop type of event,” says the 23-year-old Samila. “I didn’t realize how big this thing was going to be.”

And big, it seems, is almost an understatement.

Companies like Dial, Honeywell, SRP and APS already are on board as charter members, with APS looking at title sponsorship.

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council is eyeing its potential role, which Samila thinks will spur cities like Tempe to take a closer look at their involvement.

Chandler already has taken significant steps with its green building program; Scottsdale and at least 15 others appear ready to follow, says Samila. Scottsdale even deferred to Samila’s 2008 conference after holding its own sustainability event last year.

Meanwhile, cities across the country are hosting their own environmental mega-events. Chicago held one in 2007, Boston will be hosting one this year. Phoenix is due to hold the national conference in 2009.

Every aspect of daily living, according to Samila, has a lot to gain from the movement. Cities can generate more revenue simply by implementing educational campaigns for recyclables. “Right now, we’re tossing out tons of stuff that could go to recycling, and changing that is just a matter of communicating better.”

The building, insurance, trucking and dozens of other industries can also benefit by gaining additional knowledge, especially about the revenue stream that’s available to help achieve sustainability goals.

“There’s so much low-hanging fruit that people don’t know about,” he says. Improving the access to information will help solve that problem, he says.

As to his own Green Summit, Samila says it’s a step toward business, academia and the public coming together to increase environmental awareness.

“People need to know why sustainability is important, why we do this. (The summit) makes it approachable,” he says.

“It will help move the whole idea forward and make it fun.”

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