‘Green Summit’ organizer primed to go national next year
By: Alex Zener
Aug 30, 2008
If the only things that come to mind when you think of the word “green” are vegetables and money, it’s time to change your outlook on life.

You may also want to consider attending the 2008 GreenSummit Sustainability Conference at Phoenix Convention Center Sept. 5-6 to find out that living a “greener” lifestyle may only involve doing “just one thing,” the slogan used by the sustainability industry to generate awareness of what is takes to make a difference.

Sustainability is an ever-expanding concept that basically means using Earth’s natural resources only at a rate they can be naturally replenished.

In other words, we have been living unsustainably for years because we deplete more of Earth’s finite resources than can be restocked by Mother Nature.

The person responsible for this global event is none other than ASU senior Chris Samila. Samila, a global studies and political science major, admits that he didn’t realize the potential that “green” businesses could have on the economy until he began studying at ASU.

In the past two years, he has not only become more knowledgeable about ways to protect the environment but has launched his own business, GreenSummit, as a vehicle for businesses and industry to present sustainable technologies and other emerging industries.

“I became interested in helping Americans become more sustainable and energy efficient after attending the U.S. Green Building Council’s GreenBuild Expo and conference back in Nov. 2006,” said Samila.

“I became more determined than ever to make it work in America while on a trip to Costa Rica two months later when I saw people using compact fluorescent light bulbs in the middle of the jungle. If Costa Ricans could become more sustainable and energy efficient, then Americans should be able to, as well,” said Samila.

Samila figured one effective way to help accelerate America’s movement toward a more sustainable future was to showcase innovative new products and ideas. So, what started out as a quick trip to see Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano turned into an idea for a school project.

“I actually started the GreenSummit as a student club project in February 2007,” said Samila. “I held the first Green Summit in April 2007 with the help of fellow students and ASU.”

That student club project, held on ASU’s Tempe campus, was so unbelievably successful that Samila soon realized there was not only an increasing interest in “green” technology but that businesses could make money not only selling this new sustainable technology but could actually save money using it in their businesses, too.

“After the success of that first show, I formed a company in late Fall 2007 to prepare for a much larger 2008 event,” said Samila.

The second GreenSummit will not only be held in a larger venue, Phoenix Convention Center, but will be a two-day conference for both professionals and consumers. More than 10,000 from all over the world are expected to attend this second GreenSummit, including a delegation from Europe brought in by the U.S. Department of Commerce to showcase the latest American environmentally friendly products and breakthrough ideas.

People who attend this year’s event, including designers, architects, developers, engineers, government officials, clean-tech entrepreneurs, business owners, marketing and brand managers and members of the public will be exposed to the latest innovations in sustainability products and services. The conference will be a combination of traditional trade show, consumer expo and educational seminar.

For instance, Samila has organized the Green Innovations Expo into separate categories to help manage the ever growing and multifaceted aspects of sustainability. Within these 10 categories, there will be at least one that will appeal to almost every possible business or individual including Green Building Design, Green Business Products and Services, Greener Computing and Green Fashion and Beauty.

In addition, more than 100 educational sessions will be offered.

The GreenSummit has partnered with the world's leader in sustainability, Arizona State University, to not only create an enriching and informative conference, but to present the latest research and knowledge coming from a multitude of academic departments.

“At least 120 diverse exhibitors displaying a variety of ideas and products highlighting how your personal and professional lives are affected by sustainability issues, will also be readily available,” said Samila.

“What's more, we will have networking events, a green-industry career fair and “eco-tours” of LEED-certified and other green facilities within the Phoenix area,” said Samila.

The GreenSummit promises something for everyone, including an organic-chef presentation which will include top eco-chefs from around the Valley to demonstrate the latest trends in environmentally conscientious cooking.

Whole Foods is sponsoring these presentations that will teach attendees about benefits of eating organic and locally produced products along with creating delicious healthy meals. Samples created during the presentation will be offered to the audience.

On Sept. 3, a forum will be held at which key decision-makers from 18 communities in the greater Phoenix area will discuss how sustainability is linked to the area’s success. The Greater Phoenix Economic council, Arizona Association of Economic Development and U.S. Green Building Council are hosting this invitation-only forum.

Admission to the pubic is $20, $15 for students. Several other types of admissions are available, including a full-conference package with access to more than 100 sessions. Information about these sessions and types of admission can be found in the exceedingly informative Event Packet located on the left-hand side of the GreenSummit website at http://www.greensummit.net.  

GreenSummit has grown over just one year to become the largest sustainability-focused events in Arizona history and one of the largest in the United States.

In addition, Samila plans on taking his GreenSummit event nationwide, with one scheduled for Atlanta in 2009.

Samilla says the goal for his GreenSummit events is to provide a way to educate businesses and the pubic about ways to bring more balance to our natural environment.

He is betting his company on businesses and individuals learning about how to be “greener” at his GreenSummit events, while at the same time offering a stage for the sustainability industry to present the growth of an exciting collection of innovations and opportunities.

Simply said, Samila believes people who visit GreenSummit will realize they need to do “just one thing” to have an impact on the fragile environment.



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