Continuing the IR2009 panel discussion at FortuneGreen

What a whirlwind this conference has been – some new information, some of the same old stories – but many opportunities for interesting discussions.

One interesting discussion I followed was the Innovations Review 2009: Green Advances for a New Economy panel hosted by Gwen Ruta and Fortune’s Julie Schlosser with guests from Bon Appetit, REI and Verizon (several other companies with innovations featured in the Review were in the room).

Check out my first attempt at “live tweeting” a play-by-play for highlights.

The CEO of Bon Appetit took the prize for most illustrative quote, “We just aren’t flying fish around any more,” in reference to the company’s sourcing of local food, per its Low Carbon Diet.

Gwen asked the panelists how innovation could spread throughout a sector, the consensus was that the people doing the work know how best to find innovations and save energy, so it’s necessary to engage employees at all levels.

That sounded a lot like the point Gwen made a few months ago in a podcast with Marc Gunther after we announced results from the companies piloting the Green Portfolio Project tools: “The drivers know what’s going on in the fleet and the guys in the production line know what’s going on there. It’s a matter of being able to capture those ideas and systematize them. We see over and over again that that’s what’s behind a lot of this environmental innovation – it’s unleashing the workforce.”

Unfortunately, time ran out just as the discussion was heating up, but we hope that the discussion will continue here in the Innovation Exchange.

I’m headed back to DC tomorrow and with the time change probably won’t get a chance to do another post from here, but you can follow all the EDF_InnovEx tweets from the conference – including highlights of the breakfast roundtable Gwen Ruta is hosting tomorrow on The New Lean Green here.

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