Sustainability 101

Speak Green Conference Inspires

Anna Dengler, Great Forest’s director of sustainability, recently attended the Speak Greenconference on June 8, 2011. Below she shares a recap of what she learned from the four panel discussions and keynote presentations.

Speak Green, organized by Urban Green, was created in response to the energy that is behind the green building movement that doesn’t always translate across all sectors and political opinions. This conference set out to answer the underlying issue of communicating outside the green community with success.

Here are some of the main ideas that inspired me from the presentations:

1) Focus on solutions rather than hot button issues. Hot button issues – such as climate change – tends to turn off people rather than engage. By focusing on the solutions, like energy efficiency, people can come to the table and agree on things.

2) Build green. Everyone profits. Make your message positive and persuasive by knowing your audience.

3) “That’s interesting. Tell me more.”  Instead of dictating what you assume needs to be done, these words can help open up a discussion. Speaking green is not about lecturing but having a dialogue with all parties involved.

When working in the field, I find that goals are attained much faster if everyone is engaged in the discussions. For example, with recycling initiatives, I speak with everyone from property managers, to waste haulers, to the cleaning staff and tenants. Sustainability is a group effort and not everyone in the group is part of the green community. So learning to translate and speak green to them is essential.

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