Auden Schendler

Auden Schendler is vice president of sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company, author of Getting Green Done, and a board member of Protect Our Winters.

The dog ate my sustainability report

On my first day in the classroom teaching high school math many years ago, I looked around at the dazed faces in my 7:00 AM class, and I had an epiphany: if I try to teach these guys math straight up, they won’t learn a single thing. But if I make the class into a stand up comedy routine, and slide in some math along the way, at least they’ll learn SOMEthing. And that’s what I did. (Some of those students are out there today, struggling in low paying jobs due to lack of math background…) Along the same lines, …

Less vision. More work.

(This is reposted, in longer form, from the Harvard Business Review Blog.) I’m sitting here in Aspen on the heels of the Security Forum at the Aspen Institute, where the best and the brightest pondered, for a few days, how to prevent the next 9/11. As that meeting ended, in came Ideas Fest, with the finest thought leaders in the world on the subject of … well … thoughts. Next up is the Environment Forum. And if I were to slack a bit and troll the internet, I could find myself on the site of Fast Company, which now lists …

Replacing Offsets with Something Even Sexier

'Policy tags' should relace offsets if we really want to solve climate change

What are the best offsets to buy to address guest travel? Answer: None. Instead, sell a policy tag that contributes the same amount to policy action.

Unedited Evidence of the Apocalypse

Now you can actually just buy LEED certification

We are facing an unprecedented environmental crisis in the form of climate change (with the world at its all time hottest in recorded history right now) and yet we have a firm (and I use that term lightly) called Carbon Solutions Group sending me emails like the following: In short, it says: "You can BUY LEED credits for almost nothing! Green power is getting so cheap!"

Oil and Vinegar Redressing

BP should be like Newman’s Own

After the BP Gulf disaster is ancient history, I want that company to thrive. I want it to be vastly more profitable than ExxonMobil. It should continue exploration and drilling all over the world, including offshore. And I’m asking for just one broad change in how the company operates: BP should donate all its profits for the rest of its corporate life. The only fair way out of the gulf spill would be for BP to become just like Newman’s Own, a corporation that donates all profits to charity — in this case, to reparations for damage done by the spill. And by staying …

The choices we'll have to make to save the world

I was in the rec center pool on a snowy May afternoon recently talking to my friend Dave as my kids sloshed around in what struck me as a massive inoculation tank. As usual, nerds that we are, we talked about energy efficiency in our houses. Dave recently had an energy an audit, and like me, he’s got a roof made out of two-by-fours, an insulation rating of R-12. Code here for roofs is R-37, and best practice is R-49. The auditor told him: the best thing to do would be to insulate between the interior beams, and then plywood …

Beyond Petroleum

My friend Dean was mostly drunk rowing his raft down the Grand Canyon. He was also naked most of the time, except for a piece of climbing webbing around his waist, ostensibly to help him if the raft flipped. As he headed into the huge rapids of the Inner Gorge, Dean used to cackle and yell out: “I think I can make it!”   He was, of course, quoting Joseph Hazelwood, the captain of the Exxon Valdez.  I wonder if BP’s approach to this spill is going be a hybrid of Hazelwood’s and Dean’s: hoping for the best, but knowing …

Coal Mining's Doubly Sad Legacy

Before the Massey mine disaster, there was Crandall Canyon

I’m reposting an essay I wrote in 2007 about another mine disaster. It’s relevant to what’s happening now in West Virginia. In March 2007, I testified before a House subcommittee on energy and mineral resources about the impact of climate change on public lands. There were seven witnesses, and one was Robert Murray, founder of Murray Energy and owner of the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah. This, as everyone knows, is the mine that later collapsed, burying six miners; then it killed three men who were attempting a rescue when the mine collapsed again. Murray, who sat next to me, shouted most of …

Stealing home: James Hansen’s audacious battle to save the planet

My gut reaction to all new sustainable business and climate change books is: “Eck. Get me some Percocet and vodka.” I already know what they’re going to say: the business books say green is green, sustainability is profitable, and here are some examples. The climate book says we are hosed, and we are going to have to tax and sequester carbon, and build windmills. I can’t take the climate books because they’re boring and depressing. I can’t take the green business books because they’re redundant and they lie, making it all look so easy. So why did I eagerly pick …

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