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Apr 21, 2023

Celebrating Our Sustainability Journey

As the calendar turns to spring and the snow begins to melt and green reappears, Jim Ibister always sees Earth Day as a celebration. Ibister, Senior Vice President of Facilities for Minnesota Sports & Entertainment, knows the organization has a year-round focus on sustainability, but each year he sees April 22 as a date to stop and think about all the good work that has been accomplished. “We view Earth Day as a date to reflect on all the work we’ve done throughout the year,” Ibister said.


And those efforts are substantial. Minnesota Sports & Entertainment has made it its calling card to be a leader in sustainability. From setting up a composting program on-site to offsetting carbon emissions from Minnesota Wild team travel with UPM Blandin Paper to helping eliminate hunger and ease poverty with social sustainability efforts, Ibister has seen the many ways sustainability has united not only the community but the employees in the organization. “Our sustainability efforts are one of the threads that we can take pride in and tie our campus together,” he said.


This year is also the 25th anniversary of Saint Paul RiverCentre, and Ibister is one of a handful of employees who has seen the last quarter-century come and go on Kellogg Boulevard. In the building’s first few years, sustainability looked a little different. There were no solar panels or gardens on the rooftop, nor energy-tracking systems that measure the temperature in the ice plant and arena. Yet, sustainability was top of mind for the new Saint Paul RiverCentre. And as technology and environmental science have improved over the years, so too has RiverCentre’s dedication to being on the cutting edge of sustainability. “Sustainability has become more of a fabric of who we are,” Ibister said. “We’ve become more precise in what we’ve been doing.”


But an organization doesn’t get to a place where it can truly impact the surrounding community without internal support from its employees. And Ibister has seen that. “The most rewarding thing is the people who work in these facilities,” he said. “Their dedication to sustainability is just great. There is no policy that forces people to act sustainably. Our sustainability program is only as successful as the people who can manage it. We want people to be a part of this because they want to be a part of this and I think the vast majority of our staff is that way.”


“And that is rewarding.”