Going Green

Seminar aims to help businesses become more efficient – and profitable

By Aisling Maki

Many organizations of all sizes and across all sectors seek to “green” their facilities and operations but often worry about how reducing their carbon footprint could affect their bottom lines.

Solar energy has taken hold at Agricenter International. It is one of a few renewables that businesses are turning toward as a way to become more sustainable as well as more profitable. 

(Daily News File Photo: Lance Murphey)

That topic and others will be discussed Thursday, Aug. 2, when The Daily News presents a Sustainable Energy seminar at 3:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, 1934 Poplar Ave.

The seminar will focus on the reality of sustainability in today’s environment, with a panel discussion centered on the advantages of sustainability and the resources available for businesses seeking more efficiency and profitability.

Panelists are Becky Williamson, strategic marketing coordinator at Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division; Mary Singer, president at CRG Sustainable Solutions; and Andrew Magdovitz, director of Energy Efficiency at Team Green Zone.

Spearheaded by the Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce, Team Green Zone, a public-private partnership, helps Mid-South businesses implement long-term sustainable practices to protect the environment while helping businesses boost their bottom lines.

The chamber-led alliance of efficiency experts helps companies develop strategies to reduce their commercial and industrial facilities’ energy consumption, increase operational efficiencies and reduce their carbon footprints.

Types of facilities receiving the Team Green Zone makeover include government, health care, academic, industrial, hospitality, retail, real estate, churches and water or wastewater facilities.

Ken Lee, Team Green Zone’s operations manager, will serve as the keynote speaker at Thursday’s seminar.

“I think this whole idea of sustainability and how you achieve it is a major point that you’re offering people the chance to learn about,” said Lee, who has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Michigan Technological University and a master’s degree from the University of Memphis. “The actual how-you-do-it part is important, and I’ll be talking to that. It’s a very viable thing. … We’re there to help businesses help themselves.”

Lee has extensive experience in business ownership, manufacturing and engineering. That includes serving as president of EnviroRem Inc., an underground storage tank and asbestos removal firm, and Dixie Floor Coverings, a large retail floor covering operation in Bartlett.

He’s also the former president of Pickering Environmental Engineering and served as president, CFO and partner at Pickering Inc. Prior to his multi-year ownership roles, Lee was vice president of manufacturing at Donruss (now Hershey) and a plant engineering manager at General Mills.

He said he plans to focus on how increasing energy efficiency is the key to greening businesses while saving on costs.

“The whole idea that efficiency has not been concentrated on is pretty amazing to me because if renewables didn’t have incentives attached to them, it would be just cost-prohibitive. … In my opinion the reality of sustainability is not going to be found in the solar, wind and electric car arena right now,” Lee said.

He said the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that if companies really concentrated on energy conservation, the nation could save 20 to 35 percent of its energy production.

“Which is a tremendous amount. … Energy efficiency is what’s real in today’s world,” he said.

Following Thursday’s seminar, a wine and cheese reception will take place in the museum lobby. Rounding out The Daily News’ 2012 Seminar Series are the Business of Health Care seminar on Sept. 20 and Commercial Real Estate Review and Forecast on Nov. 1.

To register, visit seminars.memphisdailynews.com.