Metro Atlanta Chamber Promotes Environmental Sustainability

For close to ten years, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with Atlanta area businesses, has hosted periodic forums on Environmental, Health & Safety compliance. These ENFORM forums were designed to fully explain EH&S rules and regulations and to allow the exchange of ideas and practices. In early 1999, ENFORM’s Steering Committee determined that it was time to change the focus of the forum from compliance to sustainability. Recognizing business and industry’s connection to and reliance on the environmental and social health of the community, ENFORM has crafted its new mission: to help business and industry prepare for and profitably pursue the emerging opportunities of sustainable development.

On September 17, the Chamber launched the “new” ENFORM by hosting an Environmental Sustainability Roundtable. Walt Higgins, chairman and CEO of AGL Resources, and the Chamber’s vice chairman of environmental affairs, kicked off the Roundtable by addressing the 75 attendees on the business case for environmental sustainability. Mr. Higgins was followed on the program by Joe Riedel, Chairman and CEO of Beers Construction Company, who spoke about Beers’ efforts to become an environmentally sustainable business. Phil Armstrong, Executive Director of the Energy Cost Savings Council, then spoke about the opportunities to incorporate energy efficiency as a component of sustainable business practices. Finally, Evan Henry, Senior Vice-President and Manager of Environmental Services with Bank of America, explained how the market value of companies engaging in sustainability is being viewed by the global investment community.

Following the September Roundtable, the Chamber hosted an ENFORM forum on October 20, which was designed to introduce the attendees to the new mission and format of the forum series. Members of the ENFORM Steering Committee made brief presentations about the direction of ENFORM and the kinds of “tools” that attendees will be learning in future forums. Attendees learned a bit about The Natural Step, environmental management systems, environmental cost accounting, and environmentally preferred procurement. Bob Donaghue of P2AD also provided an introduction to the role of his division. Jim Hartzfeld, Senior Vice-President with Interface Research Corporation, led the group in a discussion about the values at the core of sustainability, and shared the story of Interface, which is working to become the world’s first truly sustainable corporation. In listening to the Interface story, attendees learned that it is possible to do good for the environment and do well for a business’ stakeholders by managing natural and human assets with the same vigor as financial assets.

ENFORM’s next forum is being planned for February, and will focus on building an Environmental Management System. Brent Darnell of Beers Construction Company, the first construction company in the country to achieve ISO 14001 certification, will be a guest speaker. If you would like to receive more information about ENFORM and receive invitations to future events via e-mail or fax, please send your e-mail address or fax number to Jim Durrett at  404-586-1487 (fax).