HPU Today
Alumni Strive Toward Sustainability

By John Wythe White

Building Sustainable Communities
Erwin Hudelist (MAGLSD ’07, pictured right) and Andreas Weckwert, his partner and natureOffice founder, are on site of a koa reforestation project on the island of Hawai‘i, working with Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods.
Erwin Hudelist (MAGLSD ’07, pictured right) and Andreas Weckwert, his partner and natureOffice founder, are on site of a koa reforestation project on the island of Hawai‘i, working with Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods.

Erwin Hudelist (MA Global Leadership and Sustainable Development ’07) came to Hawai‘i from Austria via a ranch in Apple Valley, Calif. When he delivered a horse to Maui, he decide he wanted to stay in the Islands. On O‘ahu he went into the printing business, eventually becoming president and general manager of Hagadone Printing Company.

"[In printing], we had runovers on paper, tons of cuttings and corrugated cartons," he said. He began thinking of ways to reduce costs by reducing waste. While on business in Hong Kong, he saw a ship in the harbor loaded with paper and decided to look into selling Hagadone’s waste to China.

"We sold China tremendous amounts of paper and plastics," Hudelist said. "It was remarkable how simple it was. … And the employees were happy."

Hudelist said that HPU "changed the way I did business and my entire future." After completing the GLSD program, he founded the Sustainability Association of Hawaii and served as its director for two years. Now he is with natureOffice, a well-established company in Europe and Latin America, heading its offices in the U.S.

NatureOffice US A evaluates and certifies companies to be carbon neutral. "I’m attracted to the philosophy of sustainability," Hudelist said. "We’re not in it for the money; we put it into projects like our plantation in Togo, Africa, which is a picture-book example of sustainability."

The Togo plantation generates oil from oil nuts to run equipment and provides work to local people, and through the sale of agricultural products and carbon credits, funds have been generated to create schools and a hospital.

Hudelist is grateful to HPU "for being one of the first universities in the U.S.A. to create a sustainability program. Sustainability is one of the best businesses for the future."

Protecting the Environment
Some people learn to respect the environment at an early age. Ryan Hurley (BSBA International Business ’05) grew up on Waikiki Beach, when his father was general manager of the Moana Hotel. "I spent my free time working and playing on the beach," he said.

Ryan Hurley (BSBA ’05) at the Kahuku Wind project
Ryan Hurley (BSBA ’05) at the Kahuku Wind project
Photo Courtesy First Wind

At age 18, when delivering a sailboat from Hawai‘i to the mainland, Hurley encountered "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch," a huge collection of marine debris.

"Seeing miles of plastic and trash in the middle of the ocean had a profound effect on me," he said.

The final push into a career in sustainability came when Hurley was building canoes and kayaks, and found it "virtually impossible to dispose affordably and properly of my excess resins and epoxies." He realized that sustainability and environmental compliance were going to be growing markets requiring the talents of skilled individuals. "Plus I really had a passion for protecting Hawai‘i’s environment," he added.

After HPU, Hurley obtained a law degree from Chapman University. "I started down the road towards environmental land use and real estate law immediately after my first class on day one of law school. I felt like a fish in water."

His first job out of law school was as environmental compliance officer at ChemSystems in  Honolulu, where he implemented a company-wide sustainability program.

Today Hurley is a specialist in wind and solar technologies for the State of Hawai‘i  Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

"In this capacity, I help wind and solar developers navigate the often complex permitting process when developing utility-scale projects."

He said his two biggest accomplishments so far are his work with the Kawailoa Wind farm on O‘ahu’s north shore and the Auwahi Wind farm on Maui.

Marianne Preus Jacobsen (MAGLSD ’12) working at Vestre in Oslo
Marianne Preus Jacobsen (MAGLSD ’12) working at Vestre in Oslo
Photo by Jan Christian Vestre

Designing Sustainably
Marianne Preus Jacobsen (MA Global Leadership and Sustainable Development ’12) works in public relations and communications for Vestre, a Norwegian family-owned business that develops furniture designs for public spaces. This includes benches and tables, fencing, bike racks, planters and waste receptacles.

Vestre uses galvanized steel, stainless steel and local Northern European woods such as pine and oak in its innovative designs. In addition to design considerations, Vestre strives to be a sustainable company—both in its product production and in its relations with suppliers and clients, Jacobsen said.

"People ask why we do not produce in China or other low-cost countries," Jacobsen said. "Being a sustainable company is not consistent with producing cheaply on the other side of the globe. We choose to cooperate with companies that aim for the best sustainable solutions."

When Jacobsen pursued her master’s in GLSD, she had worked as a communications advisor for several years.

"I realized that I wanted to take a greater part in producing policies and actions, and acquire more knowledge about why sustainable development is the right path."

Jacobsen is indebted to HPU for her rigorous training in the field, especially her course work with Professor Art Whatley, Ph.D., program chair of the Master of Arts in Global Leadership and Sustainable Development.

"Dr. Whatley is passionate about bringing sustainability theories into the management curriculum. I support his claims that new methods are needed, based on limited growth and limited resources."