Event Innovators 2018: Brett Blumberg

The founder of Kilowatt Events’ dedicated sustainability division focuses on the lasting social, environmental, and economic legacy events can have on the world.

By Claire Hoffman November 13, 2018, 3:46 AM EST

Photo: Courtesy of Brett Blumberg

Brett Blumberg, sales and sustainability manager, Kilowatt Events

Basic Stats: Blumberg, 26, founded and runs Kilowatt One, a distinct sustainability division of San Diego-based Kilowatt Events that aims to maximize the social, environmental, and economic benefits of all types of events—from day one of the planning process. Blumberg, who has a degree in environmental engineering, got his start in events by working on sustainability initiatives for the ESPY Awards.

“If everyone on the planet cared about environmental issues as much as we did at our events with ESPN, how many environmental disasters could be prevented?” he wondered, which is when he decided to get an M.B.A. in sustainable business.

Through continued contract work with ESPN, Blumberg was introduced to Kilowatt Events, run by founder and president Anthony Dittmann and director of operations Jenn Marks. “I approached them with my new perspectives and sustainable business knowledge, writing a 30-page marketing plan that attempted to show them the business value in creating a dedicated sustainability division,” he says. “They thought my crazy idea may actually lead to something.”

Why He Is Innovative: That “crazy idea” turned into Kilowatt One, which has a single goal: to tackle the social and environmental impact of events from the very onset of production, without losing sight of the R.O.I. for clients.

“Kilowatt One now complements our traditional event production wing that designs and executes events from the ground up,” he explains. “It truly sets us apart from other event-greening organizations, which typically consist of nonprofit waste management teams or third-party environmental consultants that work alongside event operators.”

“For me, it’s about the lasting legacy we can leave behind. Can we go to a host city and walk away knowing that their resources were not negatively impacted?”

Work Philosophy: Blumberg focuses on a concept that event professionals are familiar with: that nothing is permanent. No matter how long an event takes to plan, design, and build, it will ultimately end within a few days. He uses this idea to inspire his work at Kilowatt One.

“For me, it’s about the lasting legacy we can leave behind,” he says. “Can we go to a host city and walk away knowing that their resources were not negatively impacted, their citizens were educated on pertinent issues and empowered to take action, and the event itself is looked up to as a community leader rather than blindly taking advantage of the host community for the sake of profit?”

Career Highlight: Meeting with clients who had never thought about sustainable operations and convincing them to think differently.

“For example, in September we designed and executed the inaugural deep-dive sustainability program for KAABOO Del Mar, a music festival on the coast of San Diego,” he notes. “We built the program around the critical issues that San Diego faces, particularly as it relates to ocean conservation and marine habitats. …  We had a waste operation onsite that required strong community partnerships and a volunteer presence to help us execute. Working with local stakeholders in my hometown community was truly special—my mom even showed up to volunteer one day.”

Goals for the Future: “Sometimes it is an uphill battle to fight against the industry norms, but the more we grow and the more exposure we receive, the more optimistic I get that this style of production will be business as usual in the event industry one day soon,” he says. “A single volunteer can help us recycle more in a day than an entire household will recycle in a given year. A single-day event can generate carbon emissions equivalent to one-million miles driven in a passenger vehicle, which can be reduced and even offset if designed properly. A high-end dinner party could feed hundreds of mouths with leftover ingredients if food is effectively handled and transported. The list goes on and on.”

Follow Kilowatt Events on Instagram at @kilowattevents.

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