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Going Green in 2008

By: P.J. Standlee

November 24, 2007

Can you tell us about the last GreenSummit. I heard it was your brainchild. How did it come about? Who were the sponsors?

I am currently an undergraduate senior getting a degree at Arizona State University in the School of Global Studies, a new multidisciplinary program, and also in Political Science.

In my studies I closely follow international trends to try and understand how globalization affects the environment.

The idea for GreenSummit was spurred by a trip to Costa Rica with a friend back in January this year. While we were out in the countryside on vacation we came across a small village, and in this village were some small huts. In the huts they were using the latest generation compact fluorescent lightbulbs instead of the standard incandescent.

I was completely stunned because most Americans had never even heard of these new bulbs. The people in the huts were using them because it made sense for them financially in the long run. They were not college educated, but they knew that this small choice, with a higher upfront cost, would eventually reduce their bills, and if everyone did it the environment they treasured would benefit. If the people in this small village got this message, why couldn’t Americans?

I came back to the U.S. determined to help educate fellow students and community citizens about what “green” choices we could make that would benefit us financially, socially, and most importantly environmentally.

I knew we needed to take the vast knowledge academia was producing and help get it to the public. I felt like the speed at which this was happening was too slow and scattered. People couldn’t see how every choice we make as consumers and producers affects not only us but other citizens around the world.

I saw the idea of “going green” as a way to unify people around a simple but very powerful guide to help move us towards living more sustainably.

I knew that this idea of green touched on almost every industry. I figured an expo with a diverse range of exhibitors would be the most efficient and fun way to get people to see the enormous opportunities of going green.

I approached some ASU staff and faculty I respected and asked them if it was possible to bring perhaps four or five companies/organizations to talk about the benefits of going green and showcase their products and services.

It was also a way for students to get potentially recruited to progressive companies.
ASU helped point me in the right direction. I started working on the event in early February. I recruited a few students to help out with contacting exhibitors. I got a lot of help from the Global Institute of Sustainability in figuring out the internal ASU logistics.

It snowballed from there. PBS, NPR, local news television, Phoenix Business Journal and Wrangler News covered the event. I was blown away. The success helped me realize that what was just a student project (we made no money) could potentially be a career for me and fellow passionate students.

I wanted to help progressive organizations spread their positive message based around going green and help connect the general public to green products and services that would move us towards a more sustainable world.

Plus, my mom said I’d better find a job when I get out of college, so I figured why not help foster the creation of whole new industries. Going green isn’t going away, so one of these companies might be my future employer.

Sponsors were:

ASU Global Institute of Sustainability, ASU Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative, Mastermind Marketing, SRP and HDR.

How much money did you raise?

None. Not for profit first year. Now I have formed an LLC under the name GreenSummit.

How many businesses participated?

A mixture of 55-plus companies, advocacy groups and select university departments

How many people from the public?

Over 4,000.

What was the main message from the summit?

Going green provides innovative new ways of thinking that will push society towards a more sustainable world and create vast new opportunities.

Did it turn out to be what you had hoped for?

Beyond any expectations.


We hear that you’re busy planning a new Summit. What can we expect this time around? How will it be different?

We are about three weeks from launching a new website for the 2008 GreenSummit at ASU. At this year’s Summit, which will be held April 11-12 at ASU, we expect 150 exhibitors and hopefully 15,000 people.

Going green is everywhere now in the media. People are hungry for solutions that will make their lives healthier, less costly and lighter on the environment.

We will have over 10 different pavilions covering everything from organic food to green chemistry, transportation technology, green building, sustainable consumer products and many other exciting categories.

What was the community's response to the GreenSummit last year? Do you think you might have changed some people's opinions about conservation and the environment?

I truly believe I accomplished my original mission of helping get fellow students and the community more interested in going green.

Personally, I have a number of friends who have steered their education towards sustainability because they can now sense the vast economic opportunities in the emerging “green industry.”

The concept of sustainability will be embedded in every industry within the next few years. Learning more about this now will make people and companies much more competitive. They will not be blind to how the environment affects almost everything we do.

These people will have a renewed faith in conservation because we don’t have any other choice. This becomes more evident as global warming and ecological breaking points become critical.

Do you feel there is some opposition to these ideas still? What role does GreenSummit play in challenging people's thinking about the environment?

We are on the cusp of a massive shift towards embracing sustainability in the mainstream. The majority of Fortune 500 companies will have sustainability reports within the next few years. The idea of going green is not political, it is just common sense.

People that do not get it will severely unprepared for the future. GreenSummit will help reinforce this fact.

You mentioned that some companies from the Kyrene Corridor will become more involved? How did your recruit these companies, and how are they interested in helping?

We are currently talking with numerous companies, but I’ll mention Bonded Logic and AZ Performance Biodiesel.

Bonded Logic is one of the best green building insulation options in the country. They use recycled denim (jeans, etc.) instead of the traditional options.

AZ Performance Biodiesel is a great company that recycles restaurant grease and transforms it into fuel. I randomly bumped into both companies. We will have scouts starting to find exhibitors within a few weeks. We are always on the lookout for other businesses and organization involved with sustainability and providing green products and services.

Anyone who is interested should register as soon as the website launches. Spaces will fill up quickly.

This kind of large scale planning and recruiting usually happens in large organizations and govenments. Have you attracted any job offers? What's next?
If the spring event at ASU goes well, we hope to go national by fall of next year. We want to have numerous events every year going on. It is our desire to be the number-one solution for people to find innovative sustainable solutions.

Our next expansion will most likely be on the East Coast at another major university. It is our hope that we hold the GreenSummit every year at ASU.

I think Arizona is a wonderful place, but it is continually growing so it is imperative we make the right decisions today so we are prepared for tomorrow. Fortunately with going green we have everything to gain and nothing to lose.



Photo by David Stone


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