Hundreds expected to attend first annual sustainability conference
BY SCOTT F. DAVIS Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2008
Fayetteville Mayor Dan Coody on Thursday announced a new, annual sustainability summit that will be paid for by sponsors and open to the public at no charge.
Participants must register to attend the one-day Fayetteville Sustainability Summit on Oct. 10 in the Fayetteville Town Center. Breakout sessions will spill over into the University of Arkansas’ nearby Continuing Education Center.
The summit is designed to teach local and state leaders more about what Fayetteville and other cities are doing to reduce their impact on the environment.
John Coleman, the city’s sustainability coordinator, said in an interview he believes the session will be a good educational opportunity for local residents and business leaders. Fayetteville is the first city in the state to hire a sustainability coordinator.
Coleman said a larger number of UA students and faculty are expected to attend. City leaders from around the state are also likely to attend, he said a total of 250 free meals will be provided, but the conference can accept more participants, if necessary, he said.
Coody said Fayetteville has established itself as a national leader in the green movement, and he believes it is important to continue this momentum.
“In Fayetteville, we have the potential to become the hub of the green or sustainability movement,” Coody said. “It’s an opportunity that we have to take advantage of.”
U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Arkansas, who will present opening remarks for the summit, is a member of a group of 16 bipartisan senators who are focusing on making the country more energy efficient and energy independent, Coody said.
The keynote speaker, John W. Mogge Jr., is the project manager for the construction of a Middle Eastern city that is designed to be the first in the world with no carbon footprint, Coody said. Mogge is a senior vice president at CH2M Hill, the engineering firm responsible for Fayetteville’s West Side Wastewater Treatment Plant.
A panel discussion will feature mayors from Austin, Texas, and Chapel Hill, N.C., who will talk about sustainability efforts in those communities, Coody said.
A product fair will showcase a number of different products and inform people about making better purchasing decisions, Coleman said.
Sponsors who will pay for the conference include Wal-Mart, CH2M Hill, KNWA, WinRock International and Procter & Gamble, Coody said.
Coody praised Wal-Mart for leading the green movement by requiring energy efficiency in its buildings and working to make its products and packaging more environmentally friendly. He said having Wal-Mart in the area makes it easier for Fayetteville to bring in business and city leaders interested in sustainability.
“They are changing the world,” Coody said.
The Fayetteville Sustainability Summit has been organized by the city with the support of the UA, Fayetteville Visitors Bureau and the Fayetteville Economic Development Council, Coody said.
Coody expects a good turnout because two similar events last year drew large crowds. More than 160 government leaders in June 2007 attended a conference hosted by the International Council of Local and Environmental Initiatives.
This event was so successful that the city hosted an event called the Climate Change Conversation, which drew more than 200 participants, Coody said.
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