Author Archives: Colin Tetreault

Colin Tetreault

About Colin Tetreault

Student in nations first school of sustainability. This has provided me with a unique perspective into how sustainability is constructed, understood, and implemented. With a strong business background, I am currently serving as the Director of Sustainability for Atlasta Catering and Event Concepts, the largest family-owned catering service in the state. I am responsible for teaming with the CEO, implementing sustainability initiatives across all business segments, training all staff, adding value to the entire business.

Cohesive Workplace

Cohesive Sustainable Workplace Environment

The summer of fun in Arizona has arrived. What are some of the exciting topics around the water cooler this season? Consider these: A splendid May that has seen unseasonably cool temperatures; our Phoenix Suns vying for a championship; environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico; this little thing called Senate Bill 1070.

Did you just feel the air go out of the break room? Regardless of personal and political ideology, the recent piece of state legislation (with national implications) brings to light a workplace issue that should be at the forefront of managers minds: How do we build a cohesive and sustainable workplace?

Cohesion in the workplace drives company loyalty, reduces employee churn, increases efficiency and productivity, and creates an environment where people desire to work. What does this mean from a business sustainability standpoint? Better people, better work, and better potential profit. A workplace environment in which employees dread coming to work, do not feel engaged, and are not valued does not equate to a prudent business model. An organization that embodies employee respect and engagement has a framework for success and sustainability.

In the midst of our state’s economic and social uncertainty, here are some ideas to help foster a more cohesive environment in your workplace:

Stakeholder Engagement:
You will be amazed at the innovative ideas and solutions that your employees possess. Provide your employees, at all levels, with the opportunity to “co-create” their future and the future of the organization in concert with you, the manager.  Buy-in, especially by those most closely tied to the organization, is always in style.

Employees as Assets:
Don’t marginalize or alienate the greatest asset in your workplace; employees. Make a concerted effort to develop and advance your employees professional and personal life. You will be amazed how a little development will produce a lifelong raving fan that works harder and better for the organization.

Create a nurturing environment:
Workplace stress can have deleterious effects on employee behavior, health, and family life. Combat this by making the workplace one in which people have fun, interact, and look forward to coming to each day.

Arizona is a beautiful state that is home to a diverse and pluralistic community of individuals that provide us with a rich culture. Naturally, this permeates into our collective workforce. While businesses should always act in a manner that complies with the current legal framework, they should also make a concerted effort to establish a more cohesive environment for its diverse workforce and act in a more sustainable manner.

What are your success stories in creating cohesive and sustainable business environments?

Green News Roundup-Green Expo Conference & More

The Southwest Build-it-Green Expo & Conference was a great success in numerous ways. You might be wondering why, so let’s go over a few reasons.


  • One-Stop-Shopping: The BIG Conference showcased a wide variety of options for people looking to move their business, organization, or home in more sustainable perspective. Instead of having to hunt for each piece of a project individually, it gave participants the opportunity to get projects started and things moving in one setting.
  • Community Engagement:  Looking to become “greener?” The BIG Conference brought those who are new to the idea and those who are seasoned veterans together under one roof. This provided a great opportunity to make networking contacts, to further your education and understanding of sustainability, and to get involved in local ideas and projects. When people get involved, things start to happen.
  • Education: The impressive array of speakers and topics gave participants the ability to see some cutting edge projects, work, and innovative ideas first hand. Not only were the speakers excellent, they were readily available and happy to chat with the participants about any questions that came up. This was a “two for one” when looked at from a community engagement perspective, as well.
  • Business Development: While the recession is still a reality check, the BIG Conference illustrated that there is current opportunity within the marketplace for ideas, products, and services related to sustainability. I firmly believe that businesses and organizations tied to furthering issues related to sustainability – be it solar, water, wind, materials, et cetera – will be wildly successful in the coming years.
  • The Right Direction: Getting people excited to go green and to move in a more sustainable direction is always a great thing. The conference helps to demonstrate that being green isn’t scary or difficult. To the contrary, the BIG conference helps people understand that it’s easy, fun, and a smart idea – personally, professionally, socially, environmentally – to move towards and adopt ideas of sustainability.


 

Green World

Green News Roundup-Sustainable Haiti, Economic Development & More

The catastrophic events that have stricken the people of Haiti demonstrate — quite lamentably — that in a world of nanotechnology, Google-enabled mobile phones, double tall soy lattes, and proposed universal healthcare, there remain societies on the brink of social, economic, and environmental collapse. For comparison sake, recall the 1989 earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area; a 7.0 geological shift took the lives of 63 people. The same magnitude befell the people of Haiti on Jan. 12; while estimates vary, 100,000 could be dead. That is half of the population of the City of Tempe.

International aid organizations have begun to alleviate immediate suffering; there has been a nationally televised charity concert where people could “text-message” help from the comfort of their own home; myriad countries have sent physical and monetary support. However, there remains a normative question that should be on our minds:

What should we do to ensure a more sustainable Haiti, in the future?

Consider these:

Expand education efforts:

In a nation where 38 percent of the population is under the age of 14, developing intellectual capital will allow good ideas to originate, blossom, and be implemented in a country that is in dire need of them.

Economic development and investment:

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. By advancing an equitable combination of foreign direct investment, NGO/nonprofit work, and domestic revenue producing opportunities we can ensure that Haitians are placed on a path of economic self sufficiency;

Further micro-lending networks and opportunities to allow access to entrepreneurial capital and development. Jobs starting from bottom up will empower individuals and reduce the economic stratification that is rampant in the country.

Establish legitimate governance systems:

Haiti’s government has utilized 8,000 U.N. peacekeepers to maintain some semblance of order and control since 2004. While a future government does not have to be a veritable paragon of representative democracy and efficiency, the people of Haiti deserve a government that will work — vigorously and in earnest — to advance their well-being. Imagine there were a comprehensive and enforced modern building code prior to the earthquake; would Haiti have fared more like San Francisco?

The world is not a mutually exclusive place anymore. We, a global people, are connected to one another in innumerable ways. As such, we need to demonstrate our solidarity and resolute commitment to creating a more sustainable Haiti. I challenge you to ask what else you, your business, organization, or nonprofit can contribute towards the economic, social, and environmental revitalization of Haiti.

Let’s start a thoughtful and innovative conversation about how businesses, organizations, and nonprofits can move beyond status-quo assistance and be truly entrepreneurial and ground-breaking in their aid. I look forward to making positive change happen, together.

Recycling Bins

Green News Roundup-Greener Building, Education & More

For those of you involved in the green/sustainability arena, you are probably still decompressing from the impressive event that was the Greenbuild 2009 Conference and Expo that was held last week. With over 27,000 attendees, the Phoenix Convention Center, Chase Field, local businesses, and the entire community were host to a remarkable event.

Produced by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), the conference aimed to bring leading minds, businesses, and the community together around the premise of green building, education, and professional networking.

During my time visiting the impressive conference, some of the following thoughts came to me:

  • The Gargantuan Expo: The expo (which was an exhausting feat to see all of it in detail) was filled with an incredible array of vendors showcasing their particular products that contribute to green buildings and lifestyles. There are – it is not a stretch to say – innumerable creative manners in which a business or individual may contribute towards a “greener” building, property, and subsequent environment.
  • Intellectual Development and Discussion: There were several intriguing presentations by industry experts, academic researchers, community members, and perspicacious interdisciplinary practitioners. The presentations that blended elements of “green” building/design with a social cohesion element had particular merit.
  • Keynote Speeches: Nobel prize laureate Al Gore gave the keynote address on Wednesday evening at Chase field. While much of Mr. Gore’s speech was information that many of the participants may have already heard via self subscription to the “green” lifestyle, he did offer a particularly compelling charge to the audience. It was a call to arms advocating that the audience move beyond discussing green tactics and immediately work to make a substantive difference, now.

Given the participation of the conference, I would challenge each individual to consider some of the following points:

  • How do we, as individuals who have a particular interest in this field (and its success), bring the tenants of green building to those who need it most? What are the ways in which we are enabling and setting up our communities – of all socioeconomic and demographic representation – for success? Are the technologies and methods we recommend commensurate with a practical application to those who need it most?
  • What are the implications of the commoditization of green building ideals? While there are too many integrated issues to list here, how could the exhibitors at the Greenbuild expo make a difference in areas of abject poverty and subsistence-level construction (i.e. the applicability and practicality of technology towards the greater good)?
  • Given the awesome level of experience and mental aptitude that accompanies these conferences, what type of demonstrable impact can they have on the community in which they are held?

I’d love your thoughts, reactions, and recommendations on what you thought of Greenbuild and how to make conferences, like this one, better in the future.