Kevin Surace ‘Serious’ About Sustainability at RIT Entrepreneur’s Conference Oct. 15

CEO of green building materials manufacturer will talk about ways to save energy

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Kevin Surace

The impact that buildings have on the energy crisis and environment is tremendous, and we are changing the game.
—Kevin Surace, chairman and CEO, Serious Materials

Serial entrepreneur Kevin Surace says going green has to be economical. He also believes in implementing energy efficiency into the built environment, bringing green jobs and manufacturing back to the U.S.—and innovation back to industries that have lost it.

It all started “as a hobby—a chance to play with materials instead of software—when Surace first joined Serious Materials, a manufacturer of building materials and glass windows in Sunnyvale, Calif. As the company joined a new breed of successful clean-tech firms in the Silicon Valley, Surace was bent on a personal mission—to save planet Earth a billion tons of carbon each year by reinventing windows and drywall in what he calls the “third industrial revolution.”

Surace will deliver a keynote address on sustainability at the 2010 RIT Entrepreneurs Conference hosted by the E. Philip Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology. The event is scheduled during RIT’s Brick City Homecoming and Family Weekend on Oct. 15; Surace will deliver his remarks from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences auditorium.

“Kevin Surace was named Inc. Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009, and he has a huge passion for addressing our global concern for the climate changes in our environment and how we can reduce harmful emissions,” says Richard DeMartino, director of RIT’s Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“The conference is also a homecoming of sorts because Kevin completed his degree in electrical engineering technology at RIT in 1985 and currently serves on the Board of Trustees.”

Before joining Serious Materials in 2002, Surace held executive and technical positions with Perfect Commerce, General Magic, Air Communications, National Semiconductor, and Seiko-Epson.

Currently Serious Materials is working on a rather tall order—upgrading and converting existing glass panels in the Empire State Building’s windows with “super-insulating glass units” to reduce energy use. As Surace says about the project—which should be completed this December—“If you can retrofit the Empire State Building, you can retrofit anything.”

According to DeMartino, RIT places great emphasis on sustainability, entrepreneurship and developing commercializing innovative products and services to help promote growth in the community. The annual conference also provides informative workshop sessions and opportunities to network with some of the region’s most successful business leaders.

Participants are invited to a continental breakfast at 7:30 a.m. in the Golisano College, followed by concurrent sessions/panels from 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

A sampling of sessions include: Legal Issues: Incorporation and Intellectual Property, Social Media and the Entrepreneurial Venture, Marketing New Ventures, and Do You Have the Right Stuff: What Does it Take to Start a Business.

The conference is open to the public, and the cost including a boxed lunch is $25. The event is free for RIT alumni, students, faculty and staff—with a lunch fee ranging from $7 to $10. Spaces are limited; online registration is available at or call Donna Slavin at 585-475-2199.

Note: One of eight colleges at RIT, the E. Philip Saunders College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB International) and enrolls more than 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students. The Saunders College and its entrepreneurial Venture Creations Incubator work in partnership with RIT’s Albert J. Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to integrate business education with RIT’s world leading technical and creative programs. The business school also launched an online executive MBA program in 2009.