Jon Creyts dreams of a world free from the effects of large-scale fossil fuel use, a world that stimulates the economy through renewable energy. A world that's changed.
Mr. Creyts, program manager at the nonprofit energy research and consulting firm Rocky Mountain Institute based in Snowmass, Colo., will bring his ideas to a region anchored in coal and enjoying a natural gas boom next week as the keynote speaker during the Smart Energy Use for a Healthier Business Climate and Clean Air event.
Sponsored by Sustainable Pittsburgh's Champions for Sustainability business network, the event is the first in a three-part series. It is scheduled to run from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. June 21 at Phipps Conservatory in Oakland.
Mr. Creyts' talk, titled "Reinventing Fire," will outline initiatives and innovations that business managers can consider in order to improve sustainability and ultimately, he believes, stimulate the economy.
Such steps range from re-evaluating the energy consumption of refrigerators to looking at a building's infrastructure in order to cut consumption.
"It's really about creating the awareness and the motivation for businesses to lead in the capture of this transition toward a more resilient and cleaner energy economy," Mr. Creyts said in a phone interview.
The event will be a two-fold program, said Matthew Mehalik, Sustainable Pittsburgh program manager. Sustainable Pittsburgh is a local nonprofit that aims to offer sustainable solutions to businesses in the region.
The gathering will begin with speakers pitching businesses on the case for clean energy and clean air while focusing on economic incentives. Later in the day, groups will break off into panel sessions that are more on the "practical" side, Mr. Mehalik said. These sessions will offer specific tips of the trade in order to practice sustainability and implement green initiatives.
In addition, the leaderboard results of the organization's current Green Workplace Challenge will be revealed -- highlighting local companies that have made the most progress in implementing sustainable practices within the last year. More than 50 local companies ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500s to nonprofits are involved in the challenge.
In particular, air quality in southwestern Pennsylvania is a priority, said Mr. Mehalik, who hopes businesses can come together to work to improve emissions.
"For every unit of energy you do not need to consume, that's three additional units of energy that don't need to be generated," he said. "Savings directly translates into reduction of air emissions."
Registration is open to anyone, but Mr. Mehalik said Sustainable Pittsburgh hopes to see a large number of mid-sized businesses represented. While free to all Green Workplace Challenge participants, the fee is $45 for Sustainable Pittsburgh or Champions For Sustainability members and $55 for non-members. To register: visit www.c4spgh.org/AQ_kickoff.html
Anna Orso: email@example.com or 412-263-1969.