Downtown forum encourages sustainable practices

DD - Sustainability forum
Denise Quarles, of Southwire, discusses best sustainability practices for suppliers at a break-out session during the Utility Alliance Sustainability Forum. (Stephanie Snyder/DD)

Utility companies throughout the nation gathered in downtown Phoenix Tuesday for the first Utility Alliance Sustainability Forum.

The event, which took place at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, featured keynote speaker Matt Bogoshian, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s senior policy counsel at the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

Bogoshian joined President Barack Obama’s administration in February 2010 and was selected by the Electric Utility Industry Sustainable Supply Chain Alliance to deliver the keynote speech addressing 180 attendees.

Referencing Obama in his speech, Bogoshian focused on common executive orders such as wisely allocating scarce resources.

“Competitiveness, innovation and job growth are the kinds of sustainability themes we are focusing on,” Bogoshian said.

The Alliance was created to connect companies with networking events to gain insight on how to support and embrace sustainability, said Des Bell, chair of the Electric Utility Industry Sustainable Supply Chain Alliance and senior vice president of Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

“As members of the Alliance, we can learn from one another and have a broader impact on the industry, develop standards in the industry and promote and implement them,” Bell said in his welcome speech to begin the events.

Phoenix was selected to host the conference because of easy airport access, and also for the Sheraton Hotel and its sustainable practices, according to Jane Male of the Alliance.

The Sheraton, just a few short blocks from the Walter Cronkite School, features water efficient landscaping, lighting control, full-hotel recycling, green meeting options and green guestrooms.

“The whole industry is moving to reduce our carbon footprint and we want to see state of the art technology,” said Matthew Turk, an attendee from InTren, a total solutions provider of electrical, gas and telecommunications services in Illinois.

Tom Murray, chief of the Prevention Analysis Branch in the Pollution Prevention Division of the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, and senior biologist for the EPA, discussed the importance of sustainability at the university level.

“Hats off to ASU,” Murray said. “Their school of sustainability is getting more attention and is one of the few in the nation.”

Sustainability begins at the personal level, said Dave Rupert, director of strategic sourcing and procurement at American Electric Power and vice chair of the Alliance.

“Look at what you’re doing yourself,” he said. “If you go back to the Alliance, we can do more together than we can do alone.”

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