Environmental Studies at UVM

Tristam Coffin '07

Internal Sustainability Consultant, Whole Foods Market

On a summer day in San Francisco, Tristam Coffin was up to his ears in lighting plans, recycling machines and local green building codes for a new store in the Castro district. The goal was to achieve Gold LEED. At the same time he was fielding emergency calls from another store with electric power failures. And it was only early afternoon. As the go-to guy for sustainability issues for 37 Whole Foods Market stores in northern California, Tristam’s days vary widely. The training Tristam received in the Environmental Program has been key to his success.

“There’s no silver bullet solution with anything that we are doing, but having a background built on different disciplines has really helped me in my career. My role leading the sustainability program for Whole Foods Market is based on my ability to answer a broad array of questions that come from internal consultants, architects, engineers, as well as store staff and managers.”

Recently Tristam has applied his education in recycling, electric infrastructure and planning to some of the pressing issues facing the company. “I loved the Program’s
interdisciplinary approach, having a bigger perspective in natural sciences, and being able to draw from the different folks in the Program—for instance, understanding composting systems, but also looking at the energy grid, transportation and any number of different areas. Overall, the Program allowed me to understand and speak the language of sustainability.”