January 29, 2023
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Sustainability key focus for business leaders


Ventura County business leaders overwhelmingly think sustainable practices will be necessary to compete.

A survey conducted at the annual Ventura County Economic Development Association outlook conference showed that two-thirds of businesses expect to see increased spending on sustainable practices, and about 70 percent of respondents said sustainable practices are competitively important.

“Brand reputation is the greatest way to leverage sustainability,” said VCEDA chairman Bill Camarillo, CEO of Camarillo-based Agromin.

The event in Camarillo was the 41st VCEDA outlook conference, and about 250 business and community leaders attended. The theme of the conference was sustainability.

Keynote speaker Rob Westberg of Amgen said the world’s biggest biotech firm was working on a global drive for energy efficiency, including waste recycling and plant modernization.

Amgen is reusing waste water in its plant cooling towers, dramatically reducing water consumption. Utility rebates are a good source of cash to fund upgrades, Westberg said.

Amgen is starting to design next-generation labs that incorporate automatic closures and fewer air changes to gain efficiency and reduce costs. New labs will have fewer offices and have more “touchdown” spaces, as well as greener building materials and LEED-certified design. Getting more  output from bioreactors will be key to more efficient manufacturing, he said.

Amen is building sustainability into its core values and pushing suppliers to do the same, Westberg said.

“We have had almost as many hits on our website for our sustainability report as for our annual report,” he said.