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Finding Cost-Effective, Sustainable Solutions is Focus of Conference

Published: February 26th, 2007

Category: Feature, News

Sustainability is a concept that is sweeping the nation—from hybrid vehicles to green buildings—but as a movement it is still in its emerging stage. Finding ways to help organizations discover solutions that are both sustainable and cost-effective is the focus of the thirteenth annual University of Florida Public Interest Environmental Conference (PIEC), to be held March 1-3 at UF’s Levin College of Law.

Co-sponsored by The Florida Bar Environmental and Land Use Law Section and UF Student Government, this year’s PIEC embraces the theme “Talk, Technology and Techniques: Game Plan for Green,” and addresses the movement toward sustainable “green” design, institutions, and infrastructure. The conference is free for UF students. Scholarships are available for students who attend school in Florida, and a discounted registration fee is available for out-of-state students. Registration for the conference is $85, and the banquet is an additional $35.

Panels on Friday and Saturday will cover topics such as sustainable architecture, rural stewardship, low-impact development, and green corporations, featuring speakers who are leaders in government, academics, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. Friday morning’s roster of speakers will feature five leading academics, each of whom will focus on a technique or technology that offers promise for moving us towards sustainability.Their presentations will focus on innovative approaches for engaging market competition as a tool to promote environmental protection, valuing ecosystem services, designing energy policy and promoting green building, and a perspective on the role of litigation in attaining sustainability.

The conference is designed to provide an opportunity for meaningful conversation among a group with a diversity of perspectives but a shared commitment to sustainability. On Saturday morning, conference attendees will have the opportunity to meet in a unique workshop format for conversation with corporate leaders who are committed to sustainability, to discuss how to communicate effectively with the private sector on this topic. The finale on Saturday will explore the ethical challenges and opportunities presented by working with non-traditional partners to achieve sustainability.

The conference kicks off with a reception March 1 featuring speaker Jil Zilligen, vice president, Sustainable Business Practices at Nau Inc., a technical and lifestyle outdoor apparel company that is a unique business model built around sustainable business practices, the innovative use of technology and philanthropic partnerships.

UF President Bernie Machen, whose tenure has been marked by environmental initiatives, is the reception’s closing speaker. In 2004, Machen created the UF Water Institute, which provides a focal point for water-related research, education and public outreach programs. And in 2005, he gave sustainability a higher profile when he announced a series of measures to reduce the university’s impact on the environment. UF held its first Sustainability Day in late 2005, and in February 2006 the university named its first director of sustainability.

A Friday evening banquet at the Florida Museum of Natural History is highlighted by a keynote speech by Ray Anderson, founder and chairman of Interface, Inc. Anderson has transformed Interface, Inc. into a leader in sustainable and successful industry by redesigning processes and products, pioneering new technologies, and increasing the use of renewable materials.

Continuing Legal Education credit (13 general CLE credits, including 1.5 ethics hours) will be available for lawyers attending the conference. For more information on the conference or to register online, go to

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