Wouldn’t it be great to have some of the most innovative and knowledgeable green thinkers together in one room to share ideas, inspire and teach? Karen Solomon and Mike Flynn, the co-founders of Opportunity Green, thought so, too. This year’s annual conference, to be held at the Los Angeles Center Studios on November 9-11, features a wealth of information, ideas and action steps for today’s sustainability-minded businesses.
Opportunity Green was formed in 2007 and has grown exponentially since that time. This will be the fifth year the green business conference will be held, with over 1,000 attendees expected, from representatives of global Fortune 500 companies to small green-minded start-ups. In addition, the roster of speakers is diverse and impressive. It ranges from change leaders to CEOs of enterprises such as The Vans Warped Tour and Aveda to notable green Hollywood personalities such as Adrien Grenier from Entourage and U.N. Ambassador Don Cheadle. Every featured speaker, although from such diverse backgrounds, shares the common goal of bringing the “going green” message to the forefront in innovative, creative and powerful ways. But the goals of the conference include much more than listening to others speak. The founders hope that guests will be able to collaborate, share and help create solutions to the world’s biggest sustainability issues. It is, in a sense, a springboard for new ideas and positive change.
Even though not everyone at the conference has the star power of being a company president or famous name, all have made contributions to the eco movement in real and sometimes surprising ways. Attendees can listen to their stories and take the ideas out into the real world for further implementation. Even taking a small peek at the featured speakers shows the wealth of knowledge and experience available to those attending. Chris Paine, director of the Sundance Film Festival documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car,” has directed another documentary and also works on solar energy projects with the Rainforest Action Network. Susan Hunt Stevens is CEO of Practically Green, a technology company that aims to help move people toward a greener lifestyle. To show that everyone has something to bring to the table, eleven-year-old Mia Ginsburg will speak as a representative of her talk show “Mia’s Show” where she interviews celebrities on their green living practices and tries to inspire like-minded kids about the importance of taking care of our planet.
Holding a green business conference has given the team behind Opportunity Green the perfect chance to showcase how conferences can be sustainable, too. The venue, the food and the transportation to and from the facility are all examples of how Opportunity Green tries to encourage all attendees to think green while they are talking green. The Los Angeles Center Studios venue is in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, but instead of contributing to the city’s already large carbon footprint, the conference has made every attempt to reduce the impact of the conference on the environment. Transportation options include car-pooling, an eco-friendly car-service option and bicycling. The conference plans to offset 100% of its carbon emissions by partnering with NextEra Energy. Waste management is critical during conferences and meetings, and Opportunity Green addresses this by using clearly defined recycling stations throughout the venue.
While fulfilling its mission to bring conference attendees the latest news, ideas and innovations in green business, the conference also boosts small startup companies with its annual OG25 Innovative Green Startup Awards. The award recognizes small businesses whose contributions have a positive impact on the sustainable economy. The top 25 companies will be able to bring their company into the spotlight by being showcased at this year’s conference. Conference attendees will be able to mingle with the award winners, but that is not all that is on the conference’s packed agenda. Organic meals, keynote speakers, networking breaks and breakout sessions mean that everyone at the conference will be able to see and do as much as they can in the time allowed. After-conference-hours events such as a restaurant showcase feature local organic restaurants including the Veggie Grill and Sierra Nevada.
Opportunity Green is the #1 Google-ranked industry conference, and the #1 ranked sustainability conference by size. But at its heart, the big numbers mean little when compared with the chance the conference creates for individuals, small businesses and industry leaders to connect and share their vision for a greener world.