Eric Garcetti, Mayor, City of Los Angeles: VerdeXchange has become the preeminent gathering place for the intersection of green jobs, green technology, green business.
Robyn Beavers, Senior VP, NRG Energy: I think the quality of the content has really surpassed what most conferences have to offer. A lot of conferences are at a very basic level, assuming the audience is completely uneducated about the topic. This conference has functioned at a very high level. They know we can understand. I find that more valuable, and it gives us a better picture of how all the different industries or players are working, as opposed to an individual technology or an individual policy measure. It’s kind of a bird’s eye view of everything that’s happening right now.
Bob Hertzberg, California Assembly Speaker Emeritus: Brazil's at VerdeXchange, Japan's here, China's here, Canada. It's a great, great opportunity to build those regional relationships, because the federal government is just nuts.
Mary Nichols, Chair, California Air Resources Board: Cleaning up the air and addressing global climate is good for the economy, and attending VerdeXchange conferences is a chance to actually meet the people who are proving that is true.
Felicia Marcus, Chair, State Water Resources Control Board: I think it’s valuable on one level to be inspired by all that’s going on. But on another, very practical level, there are people here who know what the cutting edge is. By investing a couple of days in seeing what the cutting edge is, you save yourself months, if not years, of wasted time being stuck wherever you were, fighting to get onto the cutting edge of each of these things, wanting more. Otherwise, people sort of labor in the knowledge they can amass, having to go in depth. No one can be an expert on all of the issues. Another thing that is particularly useful about this meeting is that it brings together a bunch of sectors that rarely come together in the same meeting for any time. Generally, government meets with the private sector in meetings, and it meets with environmentalists or community groups in another meeting; it rarely meets with investors. That same lack of connection all together in one place happens so frequently. What you see is people are having these funny, separate conversations, but they don’t actually understand the economics or they don’t understand the sincere community concerns or they don’t really understand the legitimate concerns of government. Just in the energy of the hallway conversation, let alone the panels, you have people from all of those sectors looking at the same issue. This is exactly what we need if we’re going to make progress.
Randy Truby, Senior Vice President, Toray Membrane USA: I think it’s interesting to see the whole broad spectrum of what different people are doing in different corporations. We may be taking different tacks, and even working in different arenas like air and water and automobiles and alternative fuels, but most of us have to go through the same hurdles to get where we’re going, even though we’re doing something different. I think that’s beneficial. I met a couple of executives and companies that are trying to do what we’re doing, and I think that’s also helpful. Networking for me is a real benefit, and I listen to what the other people are talking about and saying, and that gives me a good perspective.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President, Western States Petroleum Association: VerdeXchange Conferences offers attendees an opportunity to see things through other people’s lens.
Jack Baylis, President and CEO, The Baylis Group: For AECOM, we’re in most of the markets, from transportation facilities to the environment, and this event captures the issues in all our marketplaces. Green business is affecting all of our built and natural environments. Until now they were separated in stove pipes. What GreenXchange has done is to pull together all those issues and underscore it with what we’re going through now with financing and all of that. That may be the common thread. But before, they were separated. For example: transportation done in a green way; building LEED-certified in a green way; and building a highway with a context-sensitive design. What GreenXchange has done is pulled all those interests under one roof.
Bob Foster, Mayor, City of Long Beach: I would argue that what happens after VX2014, with the contacts that you make is as valuable—maybe even more valuable—than what occurs in the rooms.
David Fransen, Consul General of Canada, Los Angeles: VerdeXchange, on an annual basis, brings together some of the best minds, some of the best thinkers, the influencers in this space.
Martha Welborne, Chief Planning Office, Metro: You can meet people you don’t normally run into and learn things you might not have even thought about before.
George Minter, Director, Policy and Environmental Solutions, Southern California Gas Company: The great value of VerdeXchange is that affords members of the public utilities commission an opportunity to sit down and talk with folks who are executives at utilities. I think it’s really important to be able to have a forum like VX2014 outside of the administrative hallways.
Lauren Faber, West Coast Political Director, Environmental Defense Fund: At VerdeXchange you really have a chance to hear people out in a public setting, as well as all the side conversations, both in the hallways, over meals.
Rick Cole, Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation, City of Los Angeles: The hallmark of VerdeXchange is that it’s a global perspective. There is money to be made in protecting the environment, and VerdeXchange is a good place to find it.
Tony Lucente, Director, Acceleration & Business Transformation, Nissan Latin America: I think VerdeXchange is playing a key role in helping to bridge those gaps between Brazil and Southern California in particular.
Henry Wang, China Chief Representative, Los Angeles County Investment and Trade Office: A great, great demand for a Chinese investor looking for an investment opportunity in green technology.
Daniel Breton, Assistant to the Premier of Quebec: It’s one thing to have good products and good technology, but you have to get them implemented. You have to get accepted by the public. That’s one of the reasons why I’m here.
Mike Rosenfeld, Vice-Consul, British Consulate: I think a lot of these issues are really intertwined: water issues, renewable energy issues, carbon issues, and climate change cannot be separated. Looking at it holistically is very important. Until now, we have missed the opportunity to look at the nexus between these issues. The other observation I have is that this is actually mostly a very local group, and that’s a good thing, because we have a very diverse and large community in Los Angeles. This brings together a lot of the stakeholders in the area in Los Angeles, and I think that’s a very good way of looking at solving problems locally.
Qingyun Ma, Dean, USC School of Architecture: The value is to check an individual, and therefore limited, view toward the same topic. I think everybody has a depth to their own thoughts, but they’ve come for a breadth of perspective. That, to me, is the most important. Also, I think ecology and sustainable economy have a lot to do with, just like the business world, networking and crossing fundraising and interaction with other interests. Entrepreneurship is also very crucial for an event like this. For me, particularly, because I am dean of the USC School of Architecture, my primary interest in this event is to connect our research agenda to the fundamental interest from the industry and policymakers.
Blake Simmons, Manager of Systems Department, Sandia National Laboratories: Sandia sees this as an opportunity to partner and identify folks that are relevant to the field of renewable energy. One of the biggest things that we are trying to do right now is transition technology from the research and development laboratory out into the marketplace, because we’re never going to be an energy provider or a for-profit company. Really, this is a necessary and vital networking tool, and also to get a better grasp of what policymakers are thinking in terms of how to incentivize renewable energy research overall.
Sue Garbowitz, Political and Economic Officer, Canadian Consulate: I was very happy to be a part of this meeting. There is energy in the hallways and in the sessions—a very positive energy. Everybody wants to learn from each other about what local, state, federal, and international communities are doing—from the micro of one session I attended, where they were talking about the community colleges spending $83 million on carpeting to make sure the carpeting is good for the environment, is sustainable, and is produced in a way that’s good for the children at the schools and the communities, to the macro of what’s going on post-Kyoto and the varying views of what people in Bali should be focusing on.