Sean Selby and Matt Byrnes-Jacobsen at the Green Tie Gala The two co-chairs on stage with Rudy Milian of ICSC. Co-chair Karla Zens receives an honorary plaque for two years of great leadership. Roger Ballentine presents After the conference, Sean and Matt relax after climbing to the summit of

“Renowned speakers from around the world… New research presented for the first time… A call for a National Water Summit in the Spring of 2015…”

Those are some notes I took from just the first two hours of the ICSC RetailGreen Conference. This year’s conference, the seventh annual, was the best ever. Ok, as co-Chair of the event, I’m biased, but take a look at what we accomplished! Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali from Forrester Research presented findings of her specially-made research into HOW sustainability influences customer shopping habits. It turns out that it’s not, as we have all been thinking, just driven by the younger generation. There are many factors, including urban vs. suburban, income levels, and yes, age. Roger Ballentine, who was a Chair of the White House Climate Change Task Force way back in the Clinton Administration, led us through a brief history of sustainability starting with environmental regulations in the 1970’s through today and toward what he’s termed “Sustainability 3.0.” It’s beyond branding and ROI’s, and more about total integration—into our social grid and our business pro formas. We had boardrooms and presentations on energy markets and regulatory trends, and we saw new products in the best tradeshow since starting an expo two years ago.

I’m so proud to have been a part of the planning team for the conference. In my welcoming remarks alongside my co-Chair Karla Zens of Capital Pacific, I asked for all attendees to learn a lot, network with the 500 attendees, have fun at the “Green Tie Gala,” but most importantly, to take one idea from the conference back home and implement it. I wondered aloud what would happen if all 500 of us did that, and I asked that we come back in 2015 to tell the stories. For me, my take away was to get even more involved. I’d like to participate in the water summit Don Moseley from Walmart announced. A lack of water is a real problem in many parts of the world, and the problem needs to be addressed. Our building and plumbing codes, well-intentioned in many cases, are not adequate, but that’s only the beginning.

I cannot wait to get back to Phoenix next year. I’m entering my second year of a two-year term as co-Chair. We’ve already started planning for 2015, and my new partner co-Chair is Will Teichman, the Director of Sustainability at Kimco. We are going to build on the huge success we had this year, with more research, more peer networking, and even more fun. Speaking of fun, fellow Arrowstreeter, Matt Byrnes-Jacobsen and I got the opportunity to do some repelling in the Arizona desert after the conference; check out the amazing views of Praying Monk via our app!

Topics: Travel, Retail, Sustainability, Events