Tag Archives: Social Enterprises

Sustainable Opportunities Summit (Produced by: GoGreen) Mark Gasta on Moving People To Embrace Sustainability

You don’t get to be Chief People Officer without a keen understanding of what motivates us as human beings. Vail Resorts’ CPO, Mark Gasta, works to uncover our drivers as professionals and to create behavior change that not only benefits us as people, but supports the bottom line and sustainability as well. In our Q+A, Mark shares his expert insights on moving people to embrace sustainability with dramatic results.

GoGreen: A lot of talk around sustainability for business focuses on efficiency and systems. What about the people? Where does the human element factor in and how important is it in the grand scheme of things?
Mark Gasta: Businesses are a system, and all of these factors play together. So if we are thinking about the environmental system, or other pieces of the system, and not paying attention to the human aspects of it, ultimately it won’t be sustainable. The system will become imbalanced.

In order to create organizations that do both well and good, we have to ensure the entire system is taken into consideration and that all intersections are tended to. Then we can maintain our profit margins, while also accomplishing our mission as an organization in the community. None of the elements in the system are mutually exclusive. When we drive shareholder value, we not only give that value to them, but we can then reinvest in our employees, our guest experience, our communities and environments–all are inextricably linked.

GG: From the human resources perspective, is sustainability a selling point for recruiting talent and retention rates?
It is an incredibly strong selling point, because people want to feel good about the organization they work for. People want to understand how their efforts can contribute to a larger purpose. It doesn’t matter if the employee is coming just because they love the sport (in our case) and want to be a part of that sport. The stronger that connection is, the more they want to share this sport with others and share nature with others.

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Up! In the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a Plane! It’s an Ecoroof!!!

Ecoroof Vendors Fair 09
Ecoroof Vendors Fair 09

While the Portland State University students like to call the 4th story terrace of the Urban Center, which they’re outfitting with an Ecoroof and all sorts of other eco-productive materials, the “Look Up And See Green” project, we say it’s more along the lines of…PROGRESS.

Progress looks something like 19-year-olds thinking about the future, learning and investing in initiatives that will leave the earth in better shape than it was when they came into it. It’s present when universities and businesses and governments start listening to these young voices and acting on their ideas. Progress is sweeping the nation in a wave of green and our beautiful Rose City is at the forefront of the movement.

It doesn’t hurt that Portland’s leadership has jumped on the Ecoroof train with gusto–as evidenced by the Ecoroof Vendors Fair that was organized and held by Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) this last Saturday. With 35 local experts of all persuasions (landscapers, contractors, roofers, architects, suppliers, non-profits, etc.) and hundreds of attendees present, Ecoroof was a smashing success. Don’t be surprised when you start seeing Ecoroofs popping up on your neighbor’s house, their chicken coop or highrises downtown. The vendors at Ecoroof proved just how cost effective a living roof can be–and how affordable it is to implement, especially if you win a grant from Portland BES.

Portland Architect John Wright Constructing a Chicken Coop Ecoroof @Ecoroof Vendors Fair 2009
Portland Architect John Wright Constructing a Chicken Coop Ecoroof @Ecoroof Vendors Fair 2009

Case-In-Point: Local architect John Wright did a live installation of an Ecoroof on a chicken coop from Moderncoop.com. It took less than 2 hours to outfit the coop and only cost about $50 (not including the cost of the actual chicken coop) if you factor in a BES grant–which are available to businesses and homeowners alike (Application deadline: June 1, 2009). We even met a gentleman at Ecoroof who had just won two grants:  One for his home’s garage and one for a commercial property he was building as a developer. He said the process is pretty simple and almost anyone is eligible to receive one. We were lucky to have quite a few home/business owners on-hand to share their Ecoroof experiences. From Tom Lipton, builder of the first Ecoroof in Portland, to Greg Haines, the organizer behind the Hawthorne Hostel Ecoroof movement, and Johnette Orpinela, the proud owner of an Ecoroof on a very pitched roof (it IS possible!)–we heard story after story about the endless possibilities of Ecoroofs and the creative ways to bring one to your home or business.

Ecoroof Vendor Fair 2009

We had to include some photos from the day, because it was all rather inspiring–though we’re a little bummed out that the Ecoroof chicken coop didn’t come home with us. Luckily, we now know how to build one of our own, who to call on for all our supplies and planning needs and how to apply for a grant to lower our out-of-pocket costs. Score one for eco-crusaders everywhere!