Ryan is the principal of Gaia Development, a green-building consulting company dedicated to creating cost-effective solutions for efficient sustainable buildings. Gaia’s mission is to make sustainability affordable, so more businesses and homeowners will choose to build with the future of our earth in mind.
In addition to his business, Ryan applied his 10+ years experience in the non-profit sector toward the foundation of Collective Solutions (CS). CS seeks to “promote sustainable development among under-served populations worldwide” by implementing sustainability-minded education to economically and ecologically impoverished communities. Ryan teaches a sustainability course at Cal State Dominguez Hills and speaking at sustainability-minded conferences around the country.
WRITTEN INTERVIEW – ADDITIONAL LINKS ARE BELOW THE INTERVIEW
Ryan, could you please tell our readers a little bit about your background, and your company and how you got to be where you are today?
I came into the green development world by way of real estate. After becoming a LEED AP in 2002, I took on a position as the project manager and sustainability coordinator for Yorkshire Development, where I assisted in the completion of Pasadena’s Tricom Building (the first ever commercial LEED building). In 2005, I decided I wanted to expand the possibilities of green building by founding my own business, Gaia Development. Gaia Development seeks to provide cost-effective green solutions to encourage environmentally-conscious construction.
In addition to my professional path, I have been involved in nonprofit work for over ten years. Founding Gaia gave me the knowledge and network I needed to start a non profit organization that addressed my two biggest concerns: poverty and climate change. Funded in part by Gaia’s annual revenue, Collective Solutions provides sustainability education to impoverished nations, so they can maximize the resources available to them.
Do you believe that one individual (or in this case one company) can in fact change the world?
I don’t believe that one person or company can change the world, but I do believe a lot of people can come together to make a dent. In 2009, Collective Solutions helped the small community of El Carizal create solar powered ovens to address their dwindling supply of firewood. This effort took a lot of time and a lot of manpower, but assisted only one community. Assisting a whole world of communities is an impossible task, but that doesn’t mean we should stop fighting on whatever small scale we can.
How does the work of your company affect change in the world?
Both Gaia and Collective Solutions encourage people to reconsider how we build and construct our world. In order to protect ourselves and our future people from fighting for resources, we must learn how to create a maintainable habitat. Both Gaia and CS work everyday to provide people with new options for sustainability.
What is your ultimate goal? What would you like to see happen over the coming years?
Collective Solutions is currently in talks of a collaborative project based in Nicaragua and Peru. Hopefully, we’ll be able to expand what we started in El Carizal, so we can better meet the needs of more people. My ultimate goal is to implement as much sustainable construction as possible, leaving a lasting positive influence on the world.
What is your advice for young people who want to change the world?
My advice is to find people with like minded goals and passions and learn and grow together. You can’t face the world alone. The more people you work with, the more experience, knowledge, and manpower you have to offer.
Name a person who you think has changed the world, and why.
Currently, I am very much admiring the work of Duane Sorenson, perhaps because our paths are so aligned. He, too, began as a businessman – as the CEO of Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Stumptown is a fair trade, locally-conscious business that seeks out the best possible product. After visiting one of his coffee grower’s cooperatives in Rwanda, Sorenson helped found Project Rwanda. Project Rwanda provides cargo bicycles to the community to enhance its economy and quality of life. I love that his mission focuses on sustainability, and I love that he brings the same level of commitment and social consciousness to every project he pursues.
If you could only share one piece of advice with our readers, what would it be?
Be passionate about everything you do.
Who are some of the influential people in your life and what changes came about as a result of their influence?
The most influential people in my life are Duke, Annie, Bobby, and Kathryn – the Gaia Development team. Each member is committed to changing the world through green development and bringing their particular brand of expertise to the cause. I am regularly inspired by their innovative problem solving skills and eagerness to to seek out new solutions. Gaia and Collective Solutions would not be what they are today without this amazing, talented, and committed group of individuals.
Visit Ryan’s Website At GaiaDevelopment.com