Beyond Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Net Impact's Sustainability Summit

By Tara From, 2nd-Year marketing student

Net Impact, a student-led MBA organization, successfully hosted the first ever Net Impact Sustainability Summit on February 11, 2011 titled "Beyond Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Sustainability in Business." The event brought together more than 140 students, faculty, professionals, and staff. This included University of Iowa students from the business, engineering, and law programs.

The main theme of the event was not only how and why companies should incorporate sustainability, but also to show how those efforts improve the bottom line for business. Tippie MBA Dean Curt Hunter kicked off the event. He spoke about a Harvard Business Review article that demonstrates a positive correlation between strong corporate sustainability programs and shareholder value creation. This suggests that sustainability is not only good for society but that it also creates more profitable businesses.

University President Sally Mason closed the event with remarks about the university's commitment to sustainability. She said, "One thing I love about working with Iowans is that they always exceed the goals you set. We have made huge strides in sustainability at the university beyond anyone's expectations." One example she described was the planned green design for Hancher Auditorium, which is undergoing renovations since flooding in 2008, that will reuse elements of the old building and be energy efficient.

As the speakers pointed out, sustainability is a cross-functional, organization-wide issue. It was rewarding to set aside time to reflect on the topic with students and professionals from diverse backgrounds.

Former Net Impact President Jeremie Yoder, current President Jonathan Finley, and their teams worked hard to organize the event. Speakers included: Craig Just, Professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Coordinator of Sustainability Programs, University of Iowa College of Engineering; Cheryl Davenport, Manager, Mission Measurement; and Laurie Zelnio, Director, Product Safety, Environmental Standards, Energy & Life Sciences, John Deere.