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Aspen Ski Co's VP of Sustainability on passing of James Crown

WMno57 Member Posts: 1,408
This may be of interest to those in the Commercial HVAC business. I have edited the article to focus on the sustainability projects. The entire article is here:

Jim Crown, “a force of nature,” pushed Aspen Skiing Co. to lead on climate and sustainability
Jason Blevins on Jun 27, 2023
Auden Schendler was new at his job as vice president of sustainability at Aspen Skiing Co. in the late 1990s and he had a water-conservation plan to switch out a few dozen 5-gallon flush toilets in Snowmass Village with 2.5-gallon toilets.
He was mingling at a party in Aspen back then when someone introduced him to James “Jim” Crown, the Chicago businessman who owned and managed Aspen Skiing Co.
“He said ‘Oh, Auden, welcome to the company, thanks for what you are doing. How’s your toilet program working?’” Schendler said. “I was like ‘Oh my, God, how great is it that this guy is on the board at JPMorgan and he knows about my toilet plan.’”
Over the next quarter-century, Schendler would bring “increasingly crazy ideas” to Crown, setting a path that would establish Aspen Skiing Co. as an environmental leader in sustainable operations and climate change advocacy not just in the ski resort world but in all of business. Crown signed off on the nation’s first LEED-certified resort building atop Aspen Mountain. And the first solar array to power resort operations. And a small hydropower plant. And a bigger solar array. And a $6 million methane-capture system at a dormant coal mine to power all the company’s resort and hotel operations.
“Each time, he was like ‘Well, that’s really interesting. Can you show me more information?’” Schendler said. “And we did them all. Jim let us run with some wild ****. Over the years he would describe what we were doing and what he was supporting as ‘enlightened self-interest.’ Over time it became something more than that.”
“He was this famous businessperson and philanthropist and, from my standpoint, he was an incredible partner and friend who was absolutely passionate about Aspen and skiing in the mountains. The combination of business acumen and that passion with a really detailed knowledge and experience in the ski business was just an incredible combination,” said Rusty Gregory, the veteran resort operator who joined the Crown family and KSL Capital Partners in forming Alterra Mountain Co. in 2017. “Jim was a force of nature.”
People with the money to invest in skiing don’t always have years of experience in resort operations. Crown had both. His family’s Henry Crown & Co. bought half of Aspen Skiing Co. in 1985 and bought the other half in 1993.
“He had strong opinions about important things and he was always willing to stand up and move in and do things right for the long term,” Gregory said. “He was a consummate businessman, but he led with doing what was right. His work in climate change was a real poignant example of that. He put that first before even talking about returns on investment.
Schendler ended a recent conversation about his late boss with a circle back to a previous statement. As it turns out, Crown didn’t approve every one of Schendler’s suggestions.
Not long ago Schendler thought it would be a good idea to sue energy developer ExxonMobil, arguing that the company’s persistent processing of crude oil was materially damaging Aspen Skiing Co.’s snow-dependent business by warming the climate.
“I was dead serious and I pitched it. I flew out to Chicago with the top climate lawyer in the country and we met with Jim and he brought in what was probably the most expensive lawyer in Chicago,” Schendler said. “They spent months and probably tens of thousands of dollars on the idea before they politely declined. But I think it says a lot about Jim that he didn’t laugh me out of the room. He encouraged us to think big.”
Mad Dog_2