What is your current role at your organization?
I am the Architect /Facility Information Manager at Pioneer Hi-Bred. Additionally, I am on the Board of Directors of IFMA, the International Facility Management Association. (Bet you didn’t know you were talking to such a big cheese!) and a LEED AP.
We have recently hired a new sustainability coordinator – Derek Nelson. He’s a very enthusiastic young guy who first got interested in sustainability through a course he took as part of his MBA program at the University of Iowa. Part of what he and I are talking about is not doing everything at once, but taking measured steps.
What has inhibited you or your organization from making more progress on the sustainability front?
As you might have gathered from the story about recycling, local resources certainly play a role in what we have and have not been able to accomplish to date.
Another issue related to our location is that electricity is pretty inexpensive in the Midwest. In Iowa, about 78% comes from coal plants. Looking to alternative sources of energy is difficult since the paybacks are so long. On the upside, Pioneer recently installed a 40,000 SF photovoltaic array in Hawaii – The cost of electricity in Hawaii is expensive, and the payback on PVs is much lower and therefore a much more attractive option.
What advice would you give others in your position trying to make a difference for the environment?
Be patient! Chip away at sustainability. Small victories – a series of them – are better than shooting for the moon (and missing).
Tell us about something that has inspired you recently?
My wife and I recently took a vacation to San Francisco and Sonoma valley. I was very impressed to see how ingrained sustainability is in the general populace – much more so than in Johnston, Iowa! There were recycling and composting bins just about everywhere – nothing special, everyone just knows to recycle and does it.
My wife and I grew up on farms in Iowa so have a reasonable understanding at least of how food gets to our homes, but even some of the city kids in Des Moines have no idea where their food comes from. Americans in general really have no concept of how stuff is connected. We all just need to pay attention and work to understand how everything relates to everything else.
Rod Stevens is Architect/Facility Information Manager at Pioneer Hi-Bred. This posting expresses Rod’s own opinion and does not represent DuPont company, positions, strategies, or opinion.