Update: You can watch a video of the webcast here.


In October 2009, with a major U.S. climate bill crumbling in Congress, President Obama decided to "lead by example." So he signed Executive Order 13514, pushing federal agencies to develop an "integrated" sustainability strategy and to "make reduction of greenhouse gas emissions a priority." Aside from shrinking Uncle Sam's carbon footprint a bit, this was aimed at inspiring similar actions in the private sector — and maybe even convincing Congress to pass that climate bill.


The bill ended up dying in the Senate, however, and after two years it's unlikely to be revived anytime soon. But while the Obama administration works on its Plan B — regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act — the executive order has quietly lived on, offering both the public and private sectors a game plan for greener governing.


The administration marked the order's one-year anniversary last October with the GreenGov Symposium, a three-day event designed to provide "an educational experience for federal and non-federal stakeholders to discuss the performance goals set by President Obama in his Executive Order 13514." The inaugural 2010 GreenGov featured an estimated 1,400 attendees, 370 speakers and 55 exhibitors, and included 64 different panel sessions covering issues from "The Future of Clean Energy" and "Getting to Zero Waste" to "Measuring Your Water Footprint" and "Leasing Strategies for Green Buildings."


The event was deemed a success, and so this year it officially goes annual. The 2011 GreenGov is slated for Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in Washington, D.C., vying to become a yearly fixture in the country's long struggle for sustainability. Led by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Association of Climate Change Officers, it "will bring together leaders from federal, state, local and tribal governments, nonprofit and academic communities, and the private sector," according to organizers, helping "identify opportunities around greening the federal government" and "share challenges and best practices, and discuss cutting-edge approaches for the future."


The 2011 symposium is divided into nine tracks, each of which will feature nine panel sessions on subjects within that track's topic. CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley will deliver welcoming remarks on Monday, while Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew will give the first keynote address. More than 160 speakers are confirmed, and organizers say they expect more than 1,000 people to attend.


If you aren't one of those 1,000-plus people, however, you don't have to feel left out: MNN will broadcast a live feed of a special panel discussion at the symposium at 12:15 p.m. Nov. 1. The lunchtime talk will be moderated by Dr. Heidi Cullen — a member of MNN's Board of Advisors, as well as director of communications and senior research scientist for Climate Central — and will feature five panelists:


  • Jonathan Powers, special adviser on energy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army and director of outreach for the Energy Initiatives Task Force
  • Brian Deese, who works at the National Economic Council and is special assistant to the president for economic policy
  • Michelle Moore, the Obama administration's federal environmental executive at the CEQ
  • Michael Robertson, an adviser to the administrator at the General Services Administration
  • Rachel Tronstein, clean energy adviser and special assistant at the Department of Energy

The panel will answer questions from the public in this globally available broadcast, allowing anyone to participate in GreenGov without actually being there. The event was designed to share knowledge about developing and executing sustainability programs, Moore explains, but it's also meant to connect environmental officials in the Obama administration with people around the country (or world). "From electric vehicles to net-zero-energy Army bases, the GreenGov Symposium brings government and business leaders together to learn what's working to green the government, cut waste, save energy and deliver the costs savings that come from smart sustainability strategies," Moore says. "We're here at GreenGov to answer your questions."


For more info about the GreenGov Symposium, and how you can submit questions or watch the Nov. 1 panel discussion, check out MNN's live broadcast page.


GreenGov 2011: Grill your government
MNN is hosting a live online discussion Nov. 1 with key environmental officials in the Obama administration, who will answer questions from readers.