It's not easy being green.

Even so, local and national businesses have taken the challenge.

On Thursday, the 2013 Leadership Summit will take place from 12:40-2 p.m. in the Hodges Library Auditorium. This year's central theme is "Sustainable Quality of Life," as it pertains to the southeastern region. The event will feature a welcome address by Chancellor Jimmy Cheek, followed by a panel discussion.

Held by the Center for Sustainable Business and Development, the summit is designed to help interested students become well-versed in sustainable business models and green development, hopefully allowing them to ascend to leadership positions in these fields.

Rachel Chen, Ph.D., and a professor in retail, hospitality and tourism management, is coordinating this year's summit. In the past, Chen stated a variety of local representatives have gathered at the summit to discuss sustainable business practices with students.

"The main purpose of the Leadership Summit is to set the stage for the leaders of state government, high education, the communities, as well as students and faculty to share insights and experiences that support sustainable transportation, agriculture, environment and development..." Chen said. "The invited leaders of state government have the vision, the knowledge and great experiences to help us pave the way into the future in order to sustain greater quality of life."

This year is no exception.

Kirby Knight, freshman in public relations, said she plans to absorb as much information as she can.

"They have a very impressive array of speakers lined up for the event," Knight said. "They should definitely know what they're talking about."

While all students should attend, Chen said she believes students from College of Engineering, Business, Agriculture, Education/Health/Human Science and the College of Law will find the summit especially useful.

"The leadership summit will be a wonderful opportunity for students to leave a favorable impression on state leaders with respect to the quality of students at UT," Chen said. "Most of the time is devoted to the panel answering questions from students in the audience, so it is a unique chance for students to interact directly with very high level leaders in state government."

Focusing on Tennessee and its businesses, the summit will feature methods specifically applicable to this state.

"The summit could potentially help me understand the business development processes in Tennessee," Knight said, "and better comprehend the workings of the state I live in."

John Schroer, commissioner of transportation of the state of Tennessee, Jai Templeton, deputy commissioner of agriculture of the state of Tennessee and Shari Meghreblian, Ph.D., and deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation will serve as panelists.

This event is free and open to all students, faculty and the general public.