It's a gorgeous 90-degree day here at the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel, and Fortune magazine (spearheaded by Marc Gunther) has assembled the world's top business and technology leaders here for a second annual green "brainstorm."
Marriott, Walmart, IBM, Starbucks, Ford, McDonalds, Dell, Toyota, HP, Microsoft and GE as well as top environmental nonprofits Conservation International (CI), Environmental Defense (EDF), Rainforest Action Network (RAN), and dozens more organizations at the forefront of the green business revolution report on their latest environmental initiatives and explore how to deepen their corporate commitments to sustainability while making money during a recession.
One impressive addition ... our very own Mother Nature Network is represented by both Joel Babbit and Chuck Leavell, who played one kick-ass acoustic set last night on the Ritz's grand piano (man, is he talented)!
In dramatic contrast to the Wall Street Journal's similar effort in March, this event abandons the punch & judy sideshow approach to getting press. Here no one is wasting time debating the larger climate issues, and it is quite clear that everyone at the upper echelon of corporate America is fully on board and mobilized in an attempt to gain a leadership position in the emergent green economy.
Already several stories have broken here. Last night, Green pundit Paul Hawken announced that his new company with biomimicry guru Janine Benyus called OneSun is fully funded (and in fact the first funding round was oversubscribed) and will be producing a $17 solar panel that is modeled after the most sophisticated energy technology on the planet -- the leaf.
And this morning on a panel with the sustainability directors of Marriott, Starbucks, and Dell, Starbucks announced that tomorrow morning it will be publishing (online only) its new corporate sustainability report, which includes a brand new program that looks into monetizing the carbon value of the land that their coffee growers manage, letting local growers gain additional revenues by taking their carbon credits to the voluntary carbon market.
Right now, I'm at a panel called "Green Superpowers" with the directors of sustainability for WalMart, GE and IBM. Walmart VP Leslie Dach just led a "packaging summit" where its 300 packaging suppliers presented the latest in efficient and biodegradable packaging. But Bill Valentine from HOK socked it to him saying packaging is great, but "Walmart is sucking the life out of the small town." How can it put the life back into a building sustainable community? Walmart's response: they are working on "rightsizing" their stores.
To get the latest updates, follow my tweets @greendig and also you can search #fortunegreen on Twitter and get a feed of all the twittering going on at the event.