Kermit the Frog called it: it’s not easy being green. But at the Aquarium, despite the challenges, green is what we always strive to be.

And it’s Tara Schaufele’s job to keep on top of us when it comes to green practices. She’s the sustainability manager at the Aquarium.

Ultimately, Tara is in charge of “the things we do to reduce our impact on the environment.” From reducing waste, to conserving water and energy, to encouraging the purchasing of sustainable products from outside companies, Tara makes sure we stay true to our mission, while still offering a world-class experience to our visitors.

The carpet in the Canaccord gallery is made of square pieces so sections can be replaced easily.

The carpet in the Canaccord gallery is made of square pieces so sections can be replaced easily.

Have you noticed the compostable plates and cutlery at the cafe? Did you know that the Aquarium’s Aquaquest wing is LEED Gold certified and was built with recycled materials? (Over 95% of the original demolition waste from the old building was recycled.) And take a look at the carpet in the Canaccord Financial Exploration gallery – have you ever noticed the square pattern? That’s so if a portion of the carpet is ever damaged, only one square has to be replaced rather than the whole carpet. Green and economical? I like it!

But being green is not always a cheap or easy choice – Tara has to do a lot of research and sourcing to find out the options that suit the Aquarium best.

Although it’s still a novel occupation, Tara says having a sustainability manager on staff is becoming more common, giving the shipping, oil and mining companies as examples. Sustainability is being quickly recognized as an important aspect of any company or organization, with Maclean’s ranking Canada’s top 30 green companies in 2012, and yes, the Aquarium is on that list.

The Aquarium relies on the hard work of Tara and many other staff with specific expertise. Keep your computer locked on the Aquablog because I’ll be profiling other employees and their unique jobs as part of Vancouver Aquarium Up Close, a special feature running from February 6 to April 30.

Written by Karen Horak, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.

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