SI and Pa. GreenGov Council offer Sustainability Summit

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Building on their ongoing partnership, from Oct. 3 through 7, Penn State’s Sustainability Institute (SI) and the Pennsylvania GreenGov Council are joining with state government agencies to present a free online Pennsylvania Sustainability Summit aimed at empowering governments, organizations and individuals to build more resilient communities.

Following the summit, SI and the GreenGov Council will be offering their fourth edition of a monthly webinar series to educate students, faculty and state and municipal government employees about how they can incorporate sustainability into their work and home lives.

“We are excited to continue to expand the audience and programming offered by our partnership with the GreenGov Council,” said Peter Boger, assistant director for outreach and engagement at SI. “Our partnership on the webinar series and now also the Sustainability Summit is another example of Penn State fulfilling its land-grant mission to be in service to the entire state, helping build resilient communities around the commonwealth.”

The Pennsylvania Sustainability Summit kicks off with a full day of online sessions on Monday, Oct. 3, focused on empowering organizations to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Sessions will explore government policies, programs and funding designed to advance energy efficiency, including information about what the recent federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act means for Pennsylvania; siting of solar power projects; developing local community climate action plans and more. The full schedule is available here.

The summit concludes with free online daily “lunch-and-learns,” exploring how the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) connect to Pennsylvania:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 4, Noon (EDT), “The SDGs and Pennsylvania” — Interim Penn State Chief Sustainability Officer Lara Fowler will provide an overview of Pennsylvania’s progress in advancing the SDGs and opportunities for further action.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 5, Noon (EDT), “Our Purchasing Power Can Expand Diversity and Small Business in PA” — Lisa Sanford, director of the Bureau of Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities at the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, will discuss how the state is working to support diverse small businesses across Pennsylvania.
  • Thursday, Oct. 6, Noon (EDT), “Partnering to Create Climate Resilient Communities” — Leaders from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will discuss how public-private partnerships like TreeVitalize and Watershed Forestry programs offer opportunities to install natural solutions to mitigating and adapting to climate change while improving the health of communities.
  • Friday, Oct. 7, Noon (EDT), “Training and Education for People Needing a Second Chance” — The Pennsylvania Correctional Industries program and other prison education programs will discuss the importance of creating correctional systems that rehabilitate and empower jailed offenders to re-enter society with training and skills that will help them contribute and find employment.

All sessions of the summit are free and open to all. Pre-registration is required at this link. More information about the summit sessions and presenters is available here.

Following the summit, SI and the GreenGov Council will renew for the third year their monthly webinar series to educate government officials, students and faculty about sustainability issues that affect their work and personal lives. The series this year features experts from across Pennsylvania and Penn State, including:

  • Friday, Oct. 14, 1-1:45 pm (EDT), “Decent Work & Economic Growth” — Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center will discuss issues of employment, inflation, and income inequality in Pennsylvania.
  • Thursday, Nov. 10, 1-1:45 pm (EST), “Household Carbon Reduction, Part 2 Building Sciences Connection” — Jon Kautz from Pennsylvania Housing Industry Advisory Council and PA Energy Smart will discuss the science behind energy use and potential for savings in the home environment.
  • Friday, Jan. 13, 1-1:45 pm (EST), “Sustainability & Resilience in the Community, Part 2 Food Systems” — Caryn Long Earl, director of the Bureau of Food Distribution in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and CEO Jane Clements of Feeding Pennsylvania will discuss the state of hunger in Pennsylvania and the impacts of the pandemic and inflation on hunger and systems designed to address it .
  • Friday, Feb. 10, 1-1:45 pm (EST), “Water Resources & Resiliency” — Sean Furjanic, an engineering in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Clean Water will discuss stormwater management in Pennsylvania, including its government regulations—past, present and future.
  • Friday, March 17, 1-1:45 pm (EDT), “Water Justice, Community Health and Sustainable Communities” — Asher Rosinger, Ann Atherton Hertzler Early Career Professor in Global Health and the director of the Water, Health and Nutrition Lab at Penn State, will discuss ongoing research about issues of water security and water justice in Pennsylvania.
  • Friday, April 14, 1-1:45 pm (EDT), “Land Management Best Practices for Ecosystem Health and Pollinators” — Christina Grozinger, Publius Vergilius Maro Professor of Entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research, Insect Biodiversity Center at Penn State, will discuss the importance of pollinators to ecosystem health and strategies for landscape management that promote pollinator survival.

All monthly webinars are free and open to all. Pre-registration is required at this link.

“The idea is to make each one of these topics more relevant to participants, not only in our own personal lives but in our work roles and how we can all pitch in and make a difference,” said Mark Hand, director of the GreenGov Council . “Change is not easy, but incremental changes do make a difference and we are seeing that in the three years of this program.”

About the GreenGov Council

The GreenGov Council was re-established by Governor Tom Wolf by executive order in January 2019 to help the state reach its climate goal of an 80% reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2050. Housed within the Pennsylvania Department of General Services, the council helps to integrate sustainability into the commonwealth’s policy, planning, operations, procurement and regulatory functions.

Hand and Matt Reis, assistant director of GreenGov, approached SI to find ways in which Penn State could support the state government’s sustainability efforts and developed the initial pilot of this webinar series over the course of 2020. Hand and Reis, who both have facilities backgrounds working with state agencies, worked in tandem with SI staff to identify topics and experts who can best help government agencies further Pennsylvania’s sustainability goals.

To learn more about GreenGov, click here to sign up for their quarterly newsletter. For any additional questions or comments regarding registration or webinar content, contact the GreenGov Council at [email protected] or Peter Boger at [email protected]

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