Net Zero Conference Q&A with CEO Drew Shula, Verdical Group

Crossposted from SDG&E’s Action Bulletin Series, August 2022 Edition.

The 9th annual Net Zero Conference, produced by Verdical Group, takes place September 14-15 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Over the years, the event has welcomed attendees from 53 countries and 45 U.S. states. We had the opportunity to speak with Drew Shula, CEO at Verdical Group, about progress on net zero and why this event matters.

Q: This is not a moment but a movement. How do you perpetuate the energy around the NZ22 event all year?
A: Our Verdical Group team goes to work every day focused on solving the climate crisis. This is a problem I think I’ll spend the rest of my career working on. The sustainability industry is rapidly scaling up as awareness and momentum around climate action increase. Our Net Zero Conference is about harnessing that momentum, bringing the sustainability industry together once a year to inspire thousands of people with the most cutting-edge best practices, and then sending everyone home to get back to work making a positive impact. Just like we do on the sustainability consulting side of our business at Verdical Group — decarbonizing building projects with our clients. The magnitude of the problem requires all of our attention, all year long. We’re climate optimists focused on solutions.

Q: How has the net zero conference evolved over time in terms of format and impact?
A: It’s been a wild ride. We did our first Net Zero Conference in LA nine years ago in 2014 to educate our clients, and about 100 people showed up. We thought, “That was great! 100 more people working toward positive change.” We did it again the next year and 300 people showed up. This time we thought, “Wow, that was a big jump! Let’s focus on growing this.” The conference has continued to grow each year and the venues have gotten larger and larger. This year we’re at the largest venue in Southern California, the LA Convention Center. We expect 1,500+ attendees and a sold-out expo hall. We get so many speaker submissions for our program we have to turn down about 80% of them. All of this to say that there’s incredible momentum in the net zero space and we’re thrilled to be the “go to” climate action event of the year.

Q: What do you think is the most pressing topic that you will cover this year?
A: It seems there’s a new buzz word every year in the sustainability world, and this year it’s certainly “ESG.” Fortune 500 companies are waking up and moving fast to transparently report on their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) impacts. Not to overcomplicate, I think of ESG simply as storytelling – sharing all the wonderful things an organization is doing to make a positive impact on people and the environment. Verdical Group is a certified B Corporation, and that is a powerful framework for ESG impact, so there will be a lot of talk about B Corps this year. But the Net Zero Conference is broad in scope and other buzz worthy focus areas will include: zero carbon and decarbonization, climate, equity, net zero, and resilience. It’s all happening at NZ22! We can’t wait to see you there September 15th, 2022, at the LA Convention Center. Register at: www.netzeroconference.com.