The 2016 Global Opportunities Conference: Problems to Possibilities will be held on Friday, April 8 at 9 am in the Plemmons Student Union and will explore the role that innovative business and pioneering entrepreneurs can take in addressing pressing environmental and social issues. Keynote speaker, Erin Meezan, Vicepresident of Sustainability of Interface, will share the vision of this inspiring sustainability pioneer. Dr. Dan Fogel, Director of Graduate Sustainability Studies at Wake Forest University and Dr. Jeremy Ferrell, Assistant Professor of Sustainable Technology at Appalachian State University will speak on "Nature's Price" and "Turning Waste into Resource in Latin America." They will be joined by additional experts for a luncheon panel discussion to provoke conversation on the conference theme. Students will present stories of innovative and sustainable thinking abroad drawn from their experiences in Cambodia, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Taiwan and South Korea. Morning coffee & pastries, a lunch and live music will round out the event.
Keynote Address: Erin Meezan, Interface
The 2014 Sustainability Leaders Report ranked Interface 3rd among companies leading the way on sustainability – right after Patagonia. For a traditional carpet company turned sustainable to make this list is testament to the inspiring vision of Founder and Chairman Ray Anderson. Since this change in vision in 1994, Interface has reduced waste to landfill by 91%, cut down water intake by 86% and greenhouse gas emissions by 73%. Currently, 50% of Interface's total raw materials are recycled or bio-based and 45% of their energy use comes from renewable sources. Mission Zero, their visionary goal, is to source 100% of energy needs from renewable sources by 2020. This Interface story is part of the documentary, So Right, So Smart.
As Vice President of Sustainability for Interface, our keynote speaker, Erin Meezan gives voice to the company's conscience, ensuring that strategy and goals are in sync with the aggressive sustainability vision established almost 20 years ago. She leads a team that provides technical assistance and support to the company's global business, addressing sustainability at all levels– from operations and management, to employees and customers, and in policy forums. And she also keeps a finger on the pulse of the company's transformed culture, a by-product of sustainability thinking that has been critical in driving innovation and retaining and attracting talented employees. Erin and her team are focused on nourishing and reinforcing the unique culture, and also on documenting its evolution.
To attend this free event, please register. Faculty can request a record of student attendance. Both students and faculty are welcomed to submit a question to the panel or to the keynote speaker for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate to the Appalachian State University Bookstore.
The Global Opportunities Conference is presented by the Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University with additional support provided by the QEP, University College, the Goodnight Family Sustainable Development Department, and James E. Holshouser Ethics.