“GoGreen Phoenix” Conference

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Taking place November 15th at the Phoenix Convention Center, this one-day conference is designed to help Arizona businesses become more sustainable. Find out how the conference is helping businesses “go green” from Carolyn Bristo, Sustainability Officer for the City of Phoenix, and Ericka Dickey-Nelson, Co-Founder of GoGreen Conference and President of Social Enterprises.

Ted Simons: Tomorrow Arizona business owners have an opportunity to learn how to make their companies as sustainable as possible at the Go Green conference in Phoenix. Here to talk about tomorrow's event is Ericka Dickey-Nelson, president of Social Enterprises. Carolyn Bristo, sustainability officer for the City of Phoenix, and Rodney Glassman, director of subsector solutions for Waste Management of Arizona. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us. Ericka, we will start with you. What is Go Green? Did I get it right?

Ericka Dickey-Nelson: You got it right. It's a one-day sustainability conference for business owners and business leaders. Really anyone who can make decisions about sustainability in a business. So our goal with the event is to give the audience 245 attends actionable steps they can take away. An arsenal of business they can take and actually act on.

Ted Simons: How did you get started with this.

Ericka Dickey-Nelson: We started in Portland in 2008. We are in six states now. What we found even in Portland which is supposedly one of the greenest cities in the U.S., there was a huge need for education for the business community. There's a lot going around consumer education, but for businesses specifically, there wasn't really anything in existence. We created the event and had soldout every time we have done it since we started in 2008.

Ted Simons: Why did you pick Phoenix?

Ericka Dickey-Nelson: So we had a great meeting with Carolyn and her team at the city. One of the things that really impressed us about Phoenix, we actually work with the NRDC, the national resources defense council. They did a smarter cities study and that's how we did our research on Phoenix. They have over 70 initiatives at the city they are working on, many of which are focused on businesses. When we met with them we were so impressed with all they were doing considering the situation they are here.

Ted Simons: Talk about the situation we have here. What is going on? Sounds like a lot of activity.

Carolyn Bristo: Well, at the city of Phoenix, we are very proud to be hosting the first of what we hope to be many more Go Green conferences for Phoenix. We have a strong and a long legacy of over three decades of sustainable programs in the city of Phoenix. So we see this as an opportunity for us to go greener faster, and smarter. We have, our legacy is an extensive one. We have had water conservation program for over 30 years and we are actually using less water than we were using in 1995. We have had an energy efficiency and conservation program for over 30 years and have saved hundreds of billions of dollars through cost avoidance. We have a green fleet. We have been greening our fleet for over 15 years, and over 63% of the fuel that we used last year was green fuel. So we are very excited about hosting this conference.

Ted Simons: I want to get to the business aspect in a second with rod debut back to the governmental aspect sounds like, what do you plan to learn, though, from this kind of a conference? Sounds like a lot of stuff is already going.

Carolyn Bristo: Lots of things are going on but I always say that the biggest room in the house is the room for improvement. So we have got a lot of areas in which we can improve from recycling and waste diversion to really a lot of leadership and a collaboration, energy efficiency, we have got some very aggressive goals for renewable energy.

Ted Simons: OK. To the private sector here. What do you plan to take, what do you look to take from this kind of event?

Rodney Glassman: Before even focusing on tomorrow's event, tomorrow is a great day to have the event because tomorrow is America recycles day and Waste Management is proud to be working with whole foods market and any of your viewers that are interested in recycling a cell phone can go to any whole foods market in the greater Phoenix area and recycle that cell phone and receive a free half gallon of milk. In regards to commercial businesses and working with businesses, Waste Management is the leading and the largest environmental solutions company in North America. So we are all over the board when it comes to improving and greening up businesses, especially in the area of commercial recycling. We are able to offer that to businesses in the city of Phoenix and across the valley. But we are doing a number of different things that we are going to be talking about tomorrow including taking land fill gases and turning that into electricity. We also just opened a brand new recycling facilities in surprise, Arizona, $23 million facilities where we offer tours and so we are going to be promoting bringing businesses out not just to see the can that you put those recyclables in but how we bale that and how that is reused.

Ted Simons: Back to my original, you got the marketing aspect down. I figured that out. You succeeded in that element which I want to talk to but in a second as well because a lot of companies don't but as far as the idea of a private business getting something from the conference, what do you look for? What can you -- what can Waste Management learn?

Rodney Glassman: Well, we are interested in doing is getting more tools. More tools on sustainability and that's what we are going to be sharing as well tomorrow. There are a lot of businesses, believe it or not that don't recycle. There arrest lot of businesses that are unsure how they can green themselves up. We have some wonderful collaborations with the city of Phoenix. One of the companies that we are partners with is called Big Belly Solar and they are actually trash compactors you can put in front of your business that use about the same amount of energy as toasting a single slice of bread. And if you are able to use those kind of machines, just like City of Phoenix is doing, you can actually reduce the number of trucks, the number of pickups that your business is using thereby reducing your carbon footprint and recycling your recyclables. That's one of tools we are bringing to the conference but the reality is we are always interested in improving and learning so we are excited about getting this.

Ted Simons: Did I just get green washed? Is that the idea?

Ericka Dickey-Nelson: I hope not!

Ted Simons: But getting your message out there. Saying here's what we do, how we do it and here's what we can do better.

Ericka Dickey-Nelson: Green washing so basically its when you do all this hard work on sustainable practices and try to market what you are doing. That a lot of people market things that aren't necessarily true. We are going to he will what you green washing is and how you can avoid it.

Ted Simons: What exactly is green washing?

Ericka Dickey-Nelson: Falsely advertising green practices that aren't authentic.

Ted Simons: That is a problem?

Ericka Dickey-Nelson: It is. We are going to showing video examples of advertisements that are green washing and it's going to be companies that you recognize. And it's really shocking. It's great. Most people don't really know what it is.

Ted Simons: I wasn't green washed then.

Rodney Glassman: No, not only were you not being green washed, but Waste Management has a solution atrium which is one of the teams with our company. We will talk about this tomorrow but if a business is interested in making sure that they are not just advertising about being sustainable but are actually wanting to put some meat on those bones we have a team that's able to come into businesses to talk about commercial recycle, to talk about solar, to talk about other renewable features and how we can green them up so it's not just the advertisement. And they can simply do that by going to WW of Arizona.com.

Ted Simons: As far as the governmental aspect, it's not a business. You are going to have to red tape is around everywhere in a variety of forms. How do you get past that? How do you get sustainability on the fast track in terms of municipalities?

Carolyn Bristo: Well, I think you get past that through leadership, cooperation and collaboration. I think that's the only way to go. In sustainability, it is a business. Because it's about the triple bottom line-community, economics, and environment. And all businesses want to sustainable return on their investment. Of course, regulatory relief, cutting the red tape, making it easier to do business with the city and fast tracking as you talked about last year, we were able to pass the first green, one of the first green colds in the city of Phoenix. It's a voluntary code. Last year we gave about $1 million in incentives to businesses to go green. We are -- and we are working very closely with APS, with ASU on an energize Phoenix program in our light rail corridor. So all of that is about, it's got to be about collaboration and leadership.

Rodney Glassman: And to add to that, public-private partnerships. Waste Management is actually partners as the environmental solutions provider for Arizona State University. In fact, Litchfield park, the city of Chandler, and as well as the city of Goodyear actually utilize our services to work with them on not only their waste hauling but their recycling. We work with cities and towns in collaborating as well as providing greater efficiencies for them in serving their residents.

Ted Simons: So I am a small business owner and I go to the conference and I hear Rodney talk about his company and I hear Carolyn mention the city is doing this. I am a small business. What do I take from this? What do I learn from this and how do I apply it to my business?

Ericka Dickey-Nelson: The important thing we are doing in addition to having great people like this, we want to hear it from the horse's mouth. The actual business owners who have done it. So I think we are going to have the majority of the speakers will be those businesses that have actually implemented these and what steps they took to get from A to Z. They will talk us through literally every question that we ask these speakers to talk about will be, what exactly did you do to get to this point? And how did you succeed? We did interview about 200 businesses for the 50 slots. So we interviewed a lot of folks that were regarded as cutting edge case studies, and we came away with the best of the business that will be showcased. Those that are really doing things that are out of the box.

Ted Simons: Can you give us a quick example?

Ericka Dickey-Nelson: Yeah. There's so many examples but Ping is a great example.

Ted Simons: Interesting.

Ericka Dickey-Nelson: They are going to be speaking on the greener supply chain question with Phil McNeilly who heads up sustainable purchasing with the City. We worked with the City to actually come up with a lot of our case study ideas of them, who we interviewed and found out what stories are most compelling. We are going to learn more about that tomorrow. I don't have all the details but we could know they have some really interesting things that they haven't put into place yet so that's one of the reasons we found them interesting because they are not, they're working to get there but they haven't done it all. They are going to tell us about their plans.

Ted Simons: As far as dealing with other businesses, from where you sit, are people more amenable to sustainable? Do they understand sustainability these days.

Rodney Glassman: The reality of what's driving sustainability from the private sector aspect are consumers. Throughout the valley consumers are interested in supporting businesses that are greener which is one of the reasons we are so excited as a company about not just telling people what we have to offer but more importantly, going into businesses, learning about their operations, and looking at how we can improve their operations. One of the great success stories that we have seen has to do with compacting units. You drive through retail centers, you will see there's those big rolloffs in the back. Big front load containers. By installing solar compacting monitors that are fueled by the sun but that monitor when those pickup needs to happen, we have the ability to reduce the number of trucks that are on property. We increase safety and that's just one element, one kind of success story we are able to do simply by listening to the needs and listening to operations that are going on.

Ted Simons: Very quickly, as far as coming from a governmental standpoint, is this what Phoenix residents want?

Carolyn Bristo: It's exactly what Phoenix residents want. All of us want the highest quality of life for ourselves and the businesses want the high quality of life. So from residents to businesses, to every sector of the community. So our bottom line is about the highest quality of life. And you do that through effective stewardship over your human, your economic resources and your environmental resources.

Ted Simons: All right. Very good. We will stop it right there. Great conversation. Thank you for joining us.

Carolyn Bristo: Thank you for having us.

Carolyn Bristo:Sustainability Officer for the City of Phoenix;Ericka Dickey-Nelson:Co-Founder of GoGreen Conference and President of Social Enterprises.

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