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Monday, July 22, 2024

The Future of Sustainability 2024

By Tori Toth 


On April 18, Green Living Magazine, in partnership with Gensler, came together to celebrate Earth Day with renewed vigor and a sense of urgency. Held at Gensler’s offices in Phoenix, this year’s third annual Future of Sustainability event was a remarkable convergence of local leaders, environmental activists, and business owners, all united by a single goal: to combat climate change and pave the way for a sustainable future. The summit’s theme, “Living For A New Age,” underscored the pressing need for innovative solutions and collaborative efforts to heal our planet.

The summit commenced with an inspiring speech by the Honorable Mayor Kate Gallego with the City of Phoenix. Gallego called for immediate and decisive action to reduce emissions, conserve water, and treat extreme heat like the global emergency that it is. 

Future of Sustainability

A three-time attendee and speaker at the Future of Sustainability event, Mayor Gallego also championed various sustainability efforts across the state, adding, “I learn things at this event about what’s happening in this community every year and we get to celebrate our successes. We’re real leaders in sustainability in Central Arizona, but we don’t always get together to celebrate that.

Director of Sustainability at Gensler, Kaley Blackstock, moderated a panel with Kim Stroh from Persefoni, Victor Atlasman from NXU Energy, and Greg Ayres from Nox, bringing together leaders at the forefront of technological advancements and innovation to discuss charting new paths towards a more sustainable future. Topics included advancing markets — like EV cars for transportation — in a new industrial revolution, as well as how ‘big data’ is impacting the way we collect, analyze, and encourage behavioral changes towards a net zero future. Of course, the panel also brought attention to the external influences, regulations, and incentives steering change across Arizona.

Event goers also participated in a sustainability survey that asked three questions. The first — “How would you rate Arizona’s commitment to a sustainable future?” received an average answer of three stars out of five stars — indicating that participants agree that our state has some work to do. As for the other questions, participants overwhelmingly agreed that finances are the biggest obstacle to implementing sustainability measures in our state, and respondents agreed that water conservation and improvements in transportation are the way to a more sustainable future.

Future of Sustainability

Mackenzy Leray, a student from Grand Canyon University, presented her Canyon Challenge Pitch to reduce plastic bag usage with a reusable tote that incorporates embedded NFC technology. University of Arizona student Tyler Byland also spoke about Students For Sustainability initiatives that help curb climate change and reduce waste by focusing on gardening, food, health, and educational outreach. This gives students the opportunity to attend sustainable events, volunteer and learn more about the sustainable professional opportunities available. 

When asked what his biggest takeaway was from the event, Harry Tannenbaum, founder and president of Mill, responded, “My biggest takeaway is meeting folks who are  similarly optimistic and feel the urgency around the need to act on sustainability.” 

During the event, guests got to mingle with over 150 VIPs and thought leaders in sustainability while sipping on wines from Pillsbury Winery and beers from North Mountain Brewery. Event goers also enjoyed delectable bites by Titina’s Catering.


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