Virtual Event Program

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8:15 am - 8:30 am

8:30 am - 8:45 am

8:45 am - 9:05 am

Plenary

Changing the World by Sharing Your Bed

Airbnb has shown how new business models inspire trust and offer unique experiences. This evolution could be a game-changer for how cities and industries should be thinking about the future of their models. As the need for more resilient, adaptable, sustainable solutions increases, decentralization and self-sufficiency are creating market disruptions and extraordinary opportunities that cannot be ignored.

Presented by:
In conversation with:

9:05 am - 9:20 am

Plenary

Making Sense of Sensors & Data

Keynote interview with the global head of ecomagination at GE on how they are helping customers solve their toughest challenges by providing innovative solutions to maximize resource efficiency & productivity, drive economic performance and make the world work better.

9:20 am - 9:45 am

Plenary

The New Business of Drones

How do open hardware, drones, and the future of robotics merge the Maker community with companies? As businesses start to discover that drones (a.k.a. unmanned aerial vehicles) are no longer toys but tools, what about our privacy and safety? And what does the former editor of Wired, a drones innovator, and a seasoned science journalist from The New York Times think about how all of this can contribute to a sustainable future?

Presented by:
In conversation with:

9:45 am - 9:55 am

Plenary

Overcoming Barriers to Technology Integration in Cities

As cities try to become smarter, the process of selecting and integrating technologies can be overwhelming. But one group of technology providers decided to work together to create an open, vendor-neutral framework that maps the relationship between a city's responsibilities and its seven ICT enablers. How can cities use this framework to address interoperability, choice, and flexibility while remaining technology agnostic and sustainability-focused?

Presented by:

9:55 am - 10:05 am

Plenary

How a Living Building Comes to Life

"Once somebody proves something is possible, it becomes thinkable." This is the story of how a man who knew nothing about the building industry became the driving force behind the Bullitt Center, a Living Building Challenge certified commercial office building in downtown Seattle named the world's most sustainable building. His dedication to its creation is now only rivaled by his passion to help others learn from it, replicate it, and help transform the way we build around the world.

Presented by:

10:05 am - 10:30 am

Plenary

VERGE Accelerate

VERGE Accelerate is a fast-pitch competition that provides entrepreneurs across the VERGE domains (energy, buildings, transportation, supply chains, water, food, cities) the opportunity to get in front of the diverse VERGE audience: executives from the world’s largest companies, public officials from progressive cities, venture capitalists and others.

Selected companies give a 2.5-minute pitch from the main stage to an audience of ~1000 attendees. The sessions are also live-streamed to a global audience and video captured for archive on GreenBiz.com. A text-to-vote mechanism allows the audience to decide the winner of each in real-time.

Presented by:
In conversation with:

10:30 am - 11:00 am

Break

Sidebar: Virtual interviews & conversation

11:00 am - 11:25 am

Plenary

Scaling U.S. Energy Innovation

The US Department of Energy's Loan Programs Office (LPO) is a $30 billion portfolio of clean energy and advanced vehicle loans and loan guarantees, making it the largest project finance organization in the U.S. government. In addition, the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality.
How are the heads of DOE's LPO and EERE actually accelerating deployment of innovative clean energy projects and domestic advanced vehicle manufacturing while helping economic growth and reducing greenhouse gas emissions? And what are the lessons for others?
Presented by:
In conversation with:

11:25 am - 11:50 am

Plenary

How Big Data Saves Species

The foundation of Conservation International is built upon the integration of comprehensive data and responsive science. Those committed to this premise invest in good data and sound measurement tools to understand how nature is changing. These tools must be utilized to investigate whether humanity’s use of nature’s life-supporting services is sustainable or not. Just as regular doctor visits can help keep people healthy, the early detection of planetary problems is crucial to our survival. In a partnership between CI and HP, this is a conversation focused on HP Earth Insights - a program revolutionizing the way we monitor, report and understand the health of ecosystems.

In conversation with:
Presented by:

11:50 am - 12:00 pm

Plenary

Visualizing Data to Accelerate Systems Thinking

How can businesses and cities accelerate systems thinking by looking more closely at NASA's big data? World-renowned data visualization expert illustrates how media tools and immersive experiences can expand our perspectives on humanity’s home in the cosmos, develop contextual understanding, facilitate transdisciplinary dialogues, and cultivate complex thinking.

Presented by:

12:00 pm - 12:30 pm

Plenary

Running the Industrial Age Backwards

Keynote conversation with the successful entrepreneur who helped introduce the world to natural capitalism and the natural science writer and innovator who introduced the world to biomimicry. Together, they have come up with a provocative idea to "run the Industrial Age backwards" but what does this mean? And how could it help a world where technology and data have become ubiquitous?

Presented by:
In conversation with:

8:15 am - 8:30 am

8:30 am - 8:40 am

8:40 am - 9:05 am

Plenary

Rethinking Security for the 21st Century

As our nation becomes more digitally connected, does this make us more vulnerable? Recent events have shown that our electricity grid infrastructure is not as resilient as it should be. Cybersecurity is of growing concern as well. And what constitutes the future of national security besides defense and physical security when it comes to enabling more sustainable communities?

9:05 am - 9:15 am

Plenary

Special Announcement: Unleashing the Power of Distributed Energy Resources

From renewable generation and energy storage to demand flexibility and active efficiency, the energy landscape is being transformed by distributed energy resources. The edge of the grid is bristling with innovations while the core of the grid is struggling to keep up. Spirae unveils Wave to unleash the full potential of distributed resources and amplify their ability to create new opportunities across the power system value chain.

Presented by:

9:15 am - 9:25 am

Plenary

Removing Carbon From the Atmosphere and Insights For Systemic Sustainability

Avoiding dangerous climate change needs immediate and deep cuts in carbon emissions; but some scenarios now also require us to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. The Earth Challenge has been scouting for viable ways to do this for the last 8 years, assessing a complex variety of potential 'carbon removal' solutions, from air-scrubbing machines to restoring ecosystems. The experiences of the project in striving for a rigorous and systemic perspective in their assessment may hold insights for businesses across industry verticals in search of sustainability solutions that stick.

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9:25 am - 9:40 am

Plenary

Are Smart Cities Really Necessary?

The idea of smart cities has become core to sustainability conversations. Is it being overhyped? While data and related technologies can help cities address their carbon footprint, air quality, congestion and overall livability, there are other critical measures cities need to take to make smart technology work. Indeed, without taking such measures, smart technology is doomed to be an expensive and ineffective proposition.

In conversation with:
Presented by:

9:40 am - 9:50 am

Plenary

Project 100: Car Sharing for Everyone

How do you build a business to contribute to global happiness and innovation by connecting people to the meaningful places and experiences they care about? While this idea may seem aspirational for a company based on vehicle-sharing, when you add a significant layer of accountability, the results may surprise you.

Presented by:

9:50 am - 10:10 am

Plenary

The Future of Connected Cars

Despite recalls and setbacks, General Motors is accelerating its impact vehicle innovation, design and manufacturing operations, smart materials, and vehicle efficiencies and connectivity initiatives. So what does the CTO of GM think about the future of transportation amidst the popularity of car sharing, the rise of self-driving technologies, and the necessity of low-carbon fuels?

Presented by:
In conversation with:

10:10 am - 10:20 am

Plenary

How Biomimicry Will Shape the Next Industrial Revolution

How can the colors of a butterfly’s wing reduce the world’s lighting energy bill by 80%? Why does a honeybee have better aerodynamics than a 747? What can hurricanes teach us about creating better medical technologies? How can studying seaweed lead to resistance-free antibiotics? How can a seashell keep a microchip from overheating? How does the awful-smelling durian fruit show ways to help humans live on Mars?

Presented by:

10:30 am - 11:00 am

Sidebar: Virtual interviews & conversation

Break

11:00 am - 11:10 am

Plenary

What Climate and Weather Data Mean for Business

Weather. Everyone experiences — and has an opinion — but few understand the complexity behind "a 30% chance of rain." The ability to forecast the weather accurately and well in advance will become increasingly important as we move to urban and coastal areas and as our economy continues to be tied to the weather. What are the tools meteorologists use and the challenges that await us in the future? What kinds of changes in the weather can we expect? What changes might we not be able to predict? And what does this all mean for the business community?

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11:10 am - 11:35 am

Plenary

Doing Data Differently

Big data can be a powerful ally for sustainability executives—providing valuable insights into energy efficiency or helping predict the business impact (and risk) of climate change. The downside is that the environmental cost of managing millions of new data points generated by both humans and sensors could be substantial, unless businesses rethink how to store, curate and process that information. Learn how “green" cloud services could help businesses balance their big data needs without requiring them to build a power-hungry new data center.

Presented by:
In conversation with:

11:35 am - 11:45 am

Plenary

Big Data Meets the Small Screen

How can a large company leverage existing sensors and big data to dramatically reduce energy usage, identifying top (and bottom) performing facilities with dashboard apps driven by real-time data feeds across an 88-acre corporate campus, then scale its solution around the world? The head of Microsoft's facilities will demonstrate how.

Presented by:

11:45 am - 11:55 am

Plenary

Put Humans at the Center and Start a Sustainability Renaissance

Making objects energy-efficient is one part of sustainability; it’s also about optimizing the human experience and promoting the well-being of people. If we create products and solutions that truly put the people at the center, consumer demand will increase and we’ll spark a sustainability renaissance. How is this being made possible by companies? And how can you start a renaissance of your own by reinventing everyday objects?

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11:55 am - 12:20 pm

Plenary

Addressing Climate Change Through Data Innovation

This keynote conversation will address how leaders from Google, Climate Corporation, and the Executive Office of the President are focusing on the massive opportunities in leveraging open data to catalyze innovation, collaboration, and meaningfully address the world’s pressing environmental and social challenges.

8:15 am - 8:30 am

8:30 am - 8:35 am

8:35 am - 9:00 am

Plenary

A World Beyond GMOs

How do we feed 9 billion people amid a changing climate and growing middle class? The challenge of how to balance consumer demand, ecological constraints and social equity is an increasing concern for the food and ag sectors. What is the appropriate role for technology in addressing these challenges? The answer can be found in a varied toolbox of solutions, from ancient wisdom to next-gen breeding techniques.
Presented by:
In conversation with:

9:00 am - 9:10 am

Plenary

Changing Everything: Will 'Savings-As-A Service' Become the Way Energy Efficiency is Done?

What are the disruptive models evolving the energy efficiency commercial building retrofit market? Is 'savings as a service' truly more beneficial than a traditional capital based approach? There are case studies proving the massive direct and indirect cost and energy savings derived though deployment. How will this change everything?

Presented by:

9:10 am - 9:20 am

Plenary

Smart Cities from the Ground Up

How can community-driven technology enable smart cities of the future? Cities that are smart will only exist if we create shareable cities now—this means we have to develop community driven software solutions and utilize local knowledge in ways that bridge the race, class, gender divide and meaningfully reconnect people to built environments and while reducing carbon emissions. This presentation will examine the kinds of community-driven technologies that cities will need to accelerate sustainable development, green infrastructure, and restore the long-term economic, environmental, and social health. It will also demonstrate how we can solve the world’s biggest challenges - like poverty and global warming - by expanding the roots of collaborative consumption into low-income communities and communities of color.

Presented by:

9:20 am - 9:35 am

Plenary

How Data Transforms Cities

Solving city problems using open data is no small feat, but it works when the right resources are in place. How do you encourage and empower citizens to take an active role in their community, facilitate collaboration between government staff and foster forward-thinking approaches to solving problems, and support civic-minded entrepreneurs and startups? This keynote conversation will include one of the most admired thinkers in the open government space.

In conversation with:
Presented by:

9:35 am - 10:00 am

Plenary

The Solutions Project: Getting to 100% Renewables

50 states with 50 plans can get us to 100% renewable energy. That's the thesis behind The Solutions Project, the brainchild of an unlikely group - a famous Hollywood actor, a well-respected professor, and a successful investor. But what's holding us back? And how can businesses and communities help accelerate this clean energy future?

Presented by:
In conversation with:

10:00 am - 10:30 am

Plenary

VERGE Accelerate

VERGE Accelerate is a pitch competition that provides entrepreneurs across the VERGE domains (energy, buildings, transportation, supply chains, water, food, cities) the opportunity to get in front of the diverse VERGE audience: executives from the world’s largest companies, public officials from progressive cities, venture capitalists and others.

Selected companies give a 2.5-minute pitch from the main stage to an audience of ~1000 attendees. The sessions are also live-streamed to a global audience and video captured for archive on GreenBiz.com. A text-to-vote mechanism allows the audience to decide the winner of each in real-time.

Presented by:
In conversation with:

10:30 am - 11:00 am

Sidebar: Virtual interviews & conversation

Break

11:00 am - 11:25 am

Plenary

Sustainability Leadership, from Autodesk to Atlanta

Sustainability represents a vast untapped opportunity for companies and cities to work together to leverage their respective strengths and address their common goals. Done effectively, public-private partnerships can leverage technologies to create sustainable infrastructure, engage citizens to come together to address social and environmental challenges, and create greener, healthier and more resilient urban environments. It takes a lot of work — but most important, it takes visionary leaders.

Presented by:
In conversation with:

11:25 am - 11:35 am

Plenary

Drones and the New Logistics

Will the next paradigm in transportation involve drones? This is the incredible story of Matternet, a low-cost, small-footprint transportation and logistics system that can work in any environment, no matter how harsh. It's a system that can reach anyone, anywhere. It creates opportunities and unlocks access. Imagine the possibilities.

Presented by:

11:35 am - 12:00 pm

Plenary

The Role of Grid as Integrator

As distributed energy systems and resilience strategies grow in popularity, talk of going "off the grid" is often discussed. But is it realistic to think that we will eventually abandon our electrical grid? Not likely. And while a "utility death spiral" might seem underway, some utilities are starting to evolve and embrace new opportunities where the grid becomes an enabler. This keynote conversation between a utility executive, an active PUC commissioner and a corporate stakeholder will focus on how their roles around the grid are changing and how it will evolve to enable a cleaner, more resilient energy future.

In conversation with:
Presented by:

12:00 pm - 12:30 pm

Plenary

Does Efficiency or Innovation Drive Our Energy Future?

Are deep energy retrofits, maximizing energy productivity, and renewables investment going to get us to a sustainable future? Or, do we need radical innovations to create the acceleration and scale that we need? In a lively format, Amory and Matthew will discuss different strategies that will catalyze a cleaner, smarter energy future.

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In conversation with:

4:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Plenary

Closing Keynote: Swinging for the Fences

Over the past year, Apple has become one of the leading companies in sustainability, and done so very publicly. Under the leadership of CEO Tim Cook and VP of Environmental Initiatives Lisa Jackson, the company has taken bold positions around policy and operational commitments — all the way to creating what Cook describes as “the greenest building in the world” for its new headquarters. In this keynote conversation, Jackson provides a look behind the company’s sustainability journey, and where it might be headed.

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