Orchestrated by Green Builder Media CEO Sara Gutterman and her team, the 2017 Sustainability Symposium brought together a strong bench of speakers and an enthusiastic audience of professionals from across a broad spectrum of sustainability-oriented disciplines. Held in Orlando, Florida, the day before the opening of the 2017 NAHB International Builder’s Show, the event was keynoted by Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland and also featured a talk by Samantha Medlock, former Senior White House Resiliency Advisor, and an interactive brainstorming session led by Philippe Cousteau, the son of Philippe Cousteau Sr. and the grandson of famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau.
The symposium was hosted by the office of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and the city’s Director of Sustainability, Chris Castro, kicked off the event with a opening talk around the progress Orlando is making on the sustainability curve.
Among other speakers of note was Leilani Münter, a NASCAR driver who is a strong environmental activist as well as a biology graduate. In her talk, Münter described how her day job as a race car driver enables her to “race for a cause and start a dialogue” with a much broader audience on the topic of climate change. “Liking race cars does need to indicate you are against clean air and clean water,” says Münter.
A fervent electric car fan, Münter was an early Tesla adopter, and drove to the Florida symposium from her home in North Carolina, stopping along the way to recharge her vehicle at Tesla Supercharger stations. Münter also noted that she is planning to switch gears in her racing career by switching over to the upcoming Electric GT series, where drivers will race specially-modified Tesla Model S vehicles. Münter is the first American driver to sign onto the series.
Certainly, all of the speakers, panels, and dialogue dwelled on various aspects of sustainability, but the final interactive roundtable and brainstorming session will likely result in the most actionable takeaways. Spearheaded by a talk from Cousteau—a long-time environmental activist as well as an Emmy-nominated TV host, author, and speaker—attendees broke out into working groups to formulate solution ideas around renewable energy, enabling technologies, green building, smart cities, resiliency, green economy, transportation, and intelligent water topics.
Among the advice dispensed by Cousteau during the session was a strong call to action intended to drive increased acceptance of sustainability issues—including “selling your story in a compelling way, having a clear and concise message, and the fact humor matters.”
You can keep tabs on the various goings-on emerging from the symposium by following the hashtag #OSS17 on social networks.
Tom Kolnowski is the Chief Content Officer & Founder of Digitized House Media, LLC, the publisher of Digitized House | Guide to the Connected Home. When he isn’t writing about smart home technology, sustainability, and high-performance architecture, you’ll find him exploring faraway destinations with his family.