Sustainability expert: ‘Standard approaches aren’t enough’
January 24, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Aspen Skiing Co. Director of Sustainability Auden Schendler told a Talking Green audience Tuesday night that it would take "radically different things" to solve climate change.
Schendler, the keynote speaker during Yampa Valley Sustainability Council's inaugural lecture series event of 2012, presented several sustainability projects Ski Co. has completed in recent years. They included a collaborative effort to build a utility-scale solar field and another to retrofit natural gas boilers to make them more efficient.
"I submit that the standard approaches aren't enough," Schendler said. "Recycling is important, and we should do it, but it's not enough. Plastic bag bans are important, but they're not enough. We need to totally rethink what it means to succeed."
Schendler, who spent summer 1990 living in Steamboat and working for Lockhart Auction & Realty and the Space Station, said addressing climate change means thinking differently.
Ski Co. was one of 700 companies to help alter the way global products manufacturer Kimberly-Clark got its paper fiber for Kleenex brand tissues, Schendler said. He said Ski Co. also worked to change the local energy board in an effort reduce the utility's carbon output. And he said Ski Co. partnered with the nonprofit Protect Our Winters and professional snow sports athletes to lobby in Washington, D.C.
After his presentation, Schendler said the single greatest thing Steamboat could do to impact climate change was making the green building program mandatory for residential construction.
Steamboat Springs Planning Director Tyler Gibbs, who attended the meeting, said that because the city and Routt County partner in the development review process, making green building standards mandatory would require a collaboration between the two. But he said it "absolutely" could happen.
"I think our goal in planning and development with the city is certainly making it easy to do the right thing," Gibbs said.
Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Food and Beverage Director Liz Wahl said she was motivated by Schendler's presentation. Wahl, who helped start many of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.'s sustainability efforts, said the record turnout of more than 100 local government officials, business owners, community leaders and residents helped illustrate that she's not alone in fighting a battle to become more green.
Like Wahl, Yampa Valley Sustainability Council coordinator Kim Kline said she was inspired to act. "I think (Schendler) spoke to us as a community and individually," she said. "I can take his call to action individually and go forth."
Kline added that she hoped the entire community would be called to action this year.
Schendler said Steamboat would have to play its part to help reverse "flagrantly warming" temperatures that helped the U.S. break all records for extreme weather events in the U.S.
He said it's up to all of us.
"We know how to solve climate change," Schendler said. "It's scary, but we have all the technology on the shelf today to solve it. The problem is you're dealing with human beings. And they are messy and complex things."
To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com