Green: the New Bottom Line
By Dan Gordon
Published Nov 1, 2011 2:35 PM
The next Opportunity Green Business Conference takes place on November 10-11 at the Los Angeles Center Studios. For more information, click here.
Mike Flynn '05 and Karen Solomon saw the need to bring together conscientious business leaders to discuss environmental sustainability within their organizations. So in 2007 they co-founded Opportunity Green and staged the first Opportunity Green Business Conference at UCLA's Covel Commons. The conference explores sustainable business strategies through keynote speeches, panel discussions and workshops.
Since then, the event has grown dramatically. This year, for the second time, the conference is meeting in a larger space, the Los Angeles Center Studios downtown. Conference planners expect more than 1,000 people to attend, including Fortune 500 executives, entrepreneurs, scholars and government officials. The dates are Nov. 10-11.
But Opportunity Green still maintains a strong UCLA presence. The Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the UCLA Anderson School of Management partners in putting on the event. Besides Flynn, who serves as chief operating officer, several alumni play a key role, and the conference always includes speakers from UCLA.
"This has been an important event not only for the green business community in Los Angeles, but for our students and alumni, many of whom have made connections that led to internships and jobs," says Nurit Katz, UCLA's sustainability coordinator and a member of the Opportunity Green advisory board.
"There are other events related to sustainability and green business, but Opportunity Green brings together the design and business communities in an atmosphere of innovation and creativity," says Katz, who will conduct a workshop on life-cycle analysis at this year's event. "It becomes more celebratory and creative than a typical conference, and facilitates important connections."
Flynn, an engineering graduate, says companies must be creative in delivering products and services that are not only valuable and profitable, but also environmentally sustainable. He believes public pressure on business leaders is critical to ensure that they adopt sustainable practices proactively rather than having them forced upon industries after environmental damage has been done.
"Business does not, by default, have much interest in the environmental part of sustainability," he says. "Where environmental sustainability comes to business is where culture or government demands it. It's up to people to contribute to their government and influence their peers to change culture before we have to. I think we're hitting a hybrid right now."
Opportunity Green aims to help foster such a culture. "In the marketplace, businesses succeed more often when they have stronger connections, better knowledge, better marketing and better products and services," Flynn says. "We're working to provide those things for business people who see opportunities in adopting creative, sustainable business practices."
Photos courtesy of Opportunity Green and can be found at the Opportunity Green Flickr site.
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