Hundreds of green industry leaders gathered at UC Merced on Friday for the inaugural International Green Industry Hall of Fame conference.
Six green businesses were inducted into the Hall of Fame for their efforts to improve the quality of life by reducing their carbon footprint.
The six businesses are: the American Council on Renewable Energy; Duke Smart Home Program; Grundfos; Josh Dorfman, The Lazy Environmentalist; Drip Tech; and the city of Fresno's recycling program.
"To me, we are still right at the very beginning of it," Dorfman said of the green industry. "This is the starting moment."
He said leaders must be more creative and innovative to advance the green energy industry.
Rod Diridon, executive director for the Mineta Transportation Institute, was the keynote speaker. The United States, he said, has a long way to go to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions.
"America is way above other countries (in emissions)," he said. "We are not doing a lot better yet."
Diridon said it's going to be up to the current generation to fix the problem.
"Global warming is occurring seriously," he said, and used the Himalayas as an example. The mountain range has lost a significant percentage of its glaciers since 1950, he said.
Diridon said California has an opportunity to become more sustainable with its high-speed rail project. The first phase of the project will connect Borden and Corcoran in the San Joaquin Valley. "We've got to expand it quickly," he said.
If it becomes a reality, the rail line is expected to stretch 790 miles, will have 26 stations across the state, and trains that could reach speeds of 220 mph.
Diridon said it would be one of the largest projects to be built in the country.
He spoke of the Golden Gate Bridge and the many challenges that emerged during its construction, but its builders completed the work. "We built the Golden Gate Bridge," he said. "Now let's get that courage back again."
UC Merced is also on the right path to help the state become more sustainable, said Thomas Lollini, an architect at the university.
Lollini talked about the university's sustainable design, noting that buildings on campus are using 50 percent less energy compared with others of their type.
University officials plan to bring down campus use of electricity to 25 percent, he said.
Sam Geil, president and chief executive officer of Geil Enterprises Inc., was involved in organizing the conference. He said about 250 green industry leaders and students attended the event.
Geil said students were invited to the event to introduce them to the possibilities that exist in green careers.
Ray Anderson, founder and chairman of Interface Inc., received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Interface is one of the world's largest manufacturers of modular carpet for commercial and residential applications and a leading producer of commercial broadloom and commercial fabrics.
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 388-6507 or email@example.com.