Every year, The Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council Conference welcomes the vast business community of Wisconsin for a direct business-to-business exchange of sustainability experiences and ideas. The 4th Annual Conference was held at the Monona Terrace in Madison.

Check out the agenda below, watch a video that peaks your interest and click on our sponsor’s logos at the bottom of the page to learn where they are now.  Many have a specific part of their website dedicated to sustainability practices.

Conference Agenda:

Welcome Remarks (Video)
Tom Eggert, Executive Director of  The Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council.

Keynote Address: Sustainable Investments: Reaping the Benefits (Video)
Kohl’s EVP Ken Bonning discusses the rationale behind Kohl’s commitment for green power and sustainability. Bonning discusses an organization’s inherent responsibility to make the transition to sustainability as well as the financial and marketing benefits that one can expect. A great discussion not to be missed.

Morning Breakout Sessions

Green Trends in Packaging (Video)
Dan Whitnable (Engineering Manager – Lands’ End)
Johndavid Galindo  (Director of Sustainability – Cardinal Glass)

Improving Performance in Existing Buildings, Energy and Water Efficiency (Video)
Bruce Richards (Sustainability Coordinator – Epic), Paul Oswald (CEO – ESI), Russ Klisch (President  – Lakefront Brewery) discussed improvements that can implemented to improve building efficiency. Richards and Oswald both employ high-tech monitoring systems to keep close tabs on building performance. Data is gathered and analyzed to keep buildings running at peak performance. Klisch discusses water efficiency improvements at his 22,500 barrel a year brewery. Questions focus on specific improvements, general trends, and the steps everyone should be taking to keep their buildings running efficiently.  Session moderated by UW-Madison Senior Leo Dreyfuss.

Reinventing the Relationship with the DNR (Video)
Session speakers Larry Molinari (Perlick’s Co-CEO), Nick Leifeld (Serigraph’s VP of Corporate Compliance) and Mark Manninen (3M’s Environmental Permitting Manager) discussed the benefits of working with the DNR’s Green Tier model to improve their business model.  Since Green Tier is a direct tool for quick action and fast results, there has been equal investment on both sides of putting sustainable systems into place.  These companies emphasized that they in fact share the same objectives with the DNR,  encouraging their continued partnership for a more sustainable Wisconsin. Session moderated by UW-Madison Junior Joanna Gellerman.

Sustainability, Reputation and ROI (Video)
Morgan Wiswall, Purchasing Initiatives and Sustainability Manager for Menasha Packaging, Stewart Leeth, Assistant Vice President for Environmental and Corporate Affairs and Senior Counsel at Smithfield Food, and Shane Lauterbach, CEO of The Lauterbach Group discussed the relationship between returns on investments and sustainability initiatives within their respective companies. The decision to make long terms investments in sustainability take a collaborative approach from corporate leaders, employees, and customers. These companies have returns on investment starting at four and a half months and vary in company lines from employee productivity, brand value, customer alignment, supplier opportunities, community satisfaction, management efficiencies, and corporate growth.  Session moderated by UW-Madison Senior Jackie Freidel.

Afternoon Breakout Sessions

Advances in Sustainability Reporting – Session one (Video)Session two (Video)
Session speakers Jennifer Mattes (Johnson Controls’s Director of Global Public Affairs) and Kevin Grodzki (Mercury Marine’s President of Sales, Marketing and Commercial Operations Manager) discussed the benefits of preparing a sustainability report. Johnson Controls and Mercury Marine are the leaders who are dramatically transforming their respective business sectors, emphasizing goals, uniform data and community outreach.  Their main message was that sustainability reporting is an expectation, and not a novelty, for businesses that want to succeed competitively today and tomorrow. Sessions moderated by UW-Madison Junior Joanna Gellerman.

Small Businesses and Sustainability – Session one (Video), Session two (Video)

Pete Berres (President and Owner – Berres Brothers Coffee)
Jeff Neubauer (CEO – Kranz, Inc)

Sustainability Metrics, Choosing the Right Ones – Session one (Video), Session two (Video)
Aubrey Wells (Sustainability Coordinator – Frito-Lay) and Lisa Nelson (Sr. Manager of Public Affairs – Walmart) discuss what metrics can be used to gauge efficiency at the level of individual plants and the organization as a whole. Questions discuss the interplay between supplier and buyer, particularly how Walmart influences change in its supply chain and how Frito-Lay reacts.  Walmart is one of Frito-Lay’s largest buyers and has encouraged many sustainability improvements in their operations.  Sessions moderated by UW-Madison Senior Leo Dreyfuss.

What Makes Effective Green Business Leaders – Session one (Video), Session two (Video)
John Torinus, chairman of Serigraph, and Mike Potts, President and Chief Operating Officer of Orion Energy Systems, discussed their companies’ commitments to sutainable business practices. Both companies exhibit a leadership role in finding ways to combine economic profitability with environmental respect. Leaders in sustainability need to work with local and federal governmental officials in order to make policy-led advancements in business sustainability. Sessions moderated by UW-Madison Senior Jackie Freidel.

Closing Session

Employee Engagement (Video)
Theresa Lehman (Director of Sustainable Services – Miron Construction) and Mike Dries (Director of Internal Communications – Diversey) discuss the challenge of engaging employees in company-wide sustainability efforts. Lehman and Dries both present specific strategies used at their companies to instill a sense of sustainability in employees to improve worker morale, productivity, and office atmosphere.  Session moderated by Mike Ivey from the Capital Newspapers.

Conference Partners