PHOENIX, Dec. 7, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Allan Yang, chief sustainability scientist for U-Haul® International, served Phoenix as a city commissioner and mayoral liaison during his November trip to Chengdu, China, while participating in the 2015 Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fair.
Speaking in his native city as part of an expert panel, Yang addressed the need for collaborative efforts between industrial and academic sectors as well as sustainable and responsible business practices such as U-Haul Company's truck and storage sharing model.
"We think our U-Haul business model is an innovative way to solve transportation issues and address environmental issues," Yang said.
Yang, a second-term board member for the Phoenix Sister Cities program, was tasked with an additional assignment: deliver a letter from Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton to Chengdu Mayor Tang Liangzhi. The letter introduced Phoenix's representatives at the conference (local businessman Jonathan Cottrell accompanied Yang) and invited Tang to visit the Valley in 2016 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Phoenix and Chengdu as sister cities.
"It is my hope that we can strengthen our business ties as our two cities work together to build our sister city relationship," Stanton wrote.
Phoenix's sister cities are: Calgary (Canada), Catania (Italy), Chengdu, Ennis (Ireland), Grenoble (France), Hermosillo (Mexico), Himeji (Japan), Prague (Czech Republic), Ramat-Gan (Israel) and Taipei (Taiwan).
Yang offered a unique voice at the conference with his understanding of the culture and the economic challenges China faces, specifically in regards to sustainability. The U-Haul model served as his blueprint.
"The purpose was to help Chengdu with its economic development issues," Yang said. "One of U-Haul Company's goals is to reduce the carbon footprint in our communities. When we talk about our adaptive reuse projects – purchasing abandoned buildings in cities and repurposing them as U-Haul stores – that's how we address our contributions.
"Truck rentals are a good concept to help solve sustainability issues in the transportation industry. Truck sharing encourages people to share large-capacity vehicles rather than own one. Our studies found the average annual usage for a large-capacity vehicle owner is 4 percent for shipping and towing large items, and 96 percent for commuting to work and everyday trips can be fulfilled by small passenger cars. In the U.S., it doesn't make sense. So sharing a rental truck with your community is smart."
Yang moved to Beijing from Chengdu when he was 7 and came to the U.S. in 1999. He joined U-Haul in 2007. Yang holds a PhD and an MBA from Arizona State University, as well as a Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility certificate from Harvard Business School.