ENV SP Spotlight: Julie Koehler

Julie Koehler is a Professional Engineer in the state of Colorado with a Master’s in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Master’s in Development Management from The American University.

Julie hit her 5-year mark with the City of Westminster in January 2019, was recently promoted to Utilities Engineering Manager and previously worked as a Senior Engineer in the Utilities Engineering Division.

Prior to joining the City, she spent 13 years as a Senior Associate for a private engineering firm in Denver designing several municipal engineering projects.

Julie also spent time working with the US Agency for International Development in Washington DC as well as the Peace Corps and the Agency for International Development in Africa, where she worked on urban environmental issues such as solid waste, gray water, and erosion control.

ISI staff had the chance to connect with Julie, and she provided the following insights from her career:

Professional Experience

What drew you to your field of work?
In a previous life I managed Peace Corps’ Urban Environmental Management project in the Ivory Coast, West Africa.  30 Peace Corps Volunteers served in 15 secondary towns to assist and improve solid waste management, latrine construction, and increase knowledge of health issues related to ineffective management of solid waste, human waste, and related urban environment issues.  I appreciated the engineering perspective which was science driven, mathematical, and results oriented.

What has been your biggest career challenge?
I made a career change from International Development to Engineering in my 30s.  Accepting the challenge to take all the math and science required for an engineering degree with a background in social studies and foreign language was, and is, a big deal!

What has been your proudest career moment?
Successfully obtaining my PE.

Envision Experience

How did you learn about Envision?
Dewberry, my former employer, is a charter member of ISI and encouraged staff to pursue and obtain the credential to improve sustainability of horizontal infrastructure. I decided to pursue my credential because most of my project work involved chemical feed and storage systems and potable water pumping systems designs.  Having a tool and metric against which municipal infrastructure could be evaluated attracted me to Envision.

How is the City of Westminster using Envision?
The City of Westminster is using Envision in three ways:

  • The City has over 20 credentialed ENV SPs. We  provided training to introduce an alternative way of thinking about sustainability and Capital Improvements Projects (CIP).
  • With the City’s Chief Sustainability Officer, we interviewed 16 Project Managers from different departments within the City about their work. The intent was to explore how the Envision rating tool meshed with their 2019/20 CIPs, and to determine what role the Envision tool could play in future CIPs.  The discussions helped to increase the understanding of Envision’s applicability to a wide range of projects. Ultimately, the outcome of the discussions will inform the recommendation to the City Manager about the formal use of the Envision tool in the City.
  • Public Works and Utilities committed to seeking 3rd party Envision verification on a large CIP at our Big Dry Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility. The project is now under construction.  Following construction, the project team will submit the documentation to support what the City hopes will be a bronze rating.

Can you share some highlights from an Envision project?
The series of 16 meetings with City Project Managers to discuss the Envision tool was eye-opening for me, in a good way. Many City projects and PMs use Envision principles and are supported in thinking about sustainability even if they had not previously heard of Envision. Conversations about if, how, and when to use the tool across a wide range of projects suggests that the tool is a relevant metric in our municipal project context.  Our next steps include presenting overall results to City PMs, developing a recommendation for City Management, and possibly creating City policy based on using the Envision tool for City CIPs.

Fun Facts

What are some of your favorite hobbies and interests?
I like riding my bike to work in the summer, quilting, reading, and spending time with my family.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I completed the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim in the mid 90s and placed 39th in my age group.

We’re Hiring!

The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure is seeking an intermediate- to senior-level Project Reviewer to play a crucial role in the ongoing growth and development of the Envision verification and awards program. For additional details, including information on how to apply, please visit our careers page.

Power Distribution Improvements Project at the Bowery Bay Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility earns Envision Silver

The BB-215 Power Distribution Improvements Project at the Bowery Bay Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) located in Astoria, Borough of Queens, New York, has received the Envision® Silver award for sustainable infrastructure.

The Bowery Bay Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) has a current dry weather flow design capacity of 150 million gallons per day (MGD) and a maximum wet weather flow capacity of 330 MGD. Originally constructed in 1939, the WRRF has undergone several major expansions and upgrades to serve its current drainage area of approximately 15,200 acres. To continually provide the important service of wastewater treatment and resource recovery to the surrounding community, the facility’s equipment is periodically upgraded to the increase efficiency. In addition, repairs to the facility are periodically required, especially after major storm events such as Hurricane Sandy. The latest Power Distribution Improvements Project—the project submitted for third-party verification against the Envision sustainable infrastructure framework—involves: consolidation of the facility-wide power distribution system: conversion of the facility’s remaining 208 volt distribution systems and equipment loads to 480 volt; removing obsolete motor control centers and equipment; replacing electrical equipment, motors, and associated wiring; replacing the 4160 volt synchronous bus and 4 utility service paralleling reactors in the main substation; and providing new mimic panels in the main substation and facility control room to improve operator safety.

The primary goal of the Power Distribution Improvements Project is to provide reliable service to the 850,000 people in the community, and sustainability has been a major focus for the project team since the project’s initial inception. For this reason, the project team pursued Envision verification to acknowledge and validate the proactive sustainability outcomes for Bowery Bay WRRF.

To learn more about this project, Click Here

Naples Bay Restoration and Water Quality Improvements at the Cove Project Earns Envision Silver

Naples Bay and its contributing watershed have been dramatically altered by development over time. Associated with various water management projects, the watershed of Naples Bay has expanded from approximately 10 square miles in size to its current 160 square miles.

Enhancing water quality for its residents, visitors, and neighbors is an important part of the City’s environmental stewardship. To this end, the City identified the need to investigate the ecological and environmental conditions at the Cove Pump Station outfall. Analysis of the existing conditions at the outfall identified significant sediment transport, a low functioning ecosystem, and impaired hydraulic conditions arising from the operation of the Cove Pump Station that serves Basin III (otherwise known as Naples Bay). The project team performed an in-depth analysis of stormwater Basin III, undertook City-wide planning initiatives and historical stormwater improvements to guide the design through conceptual and preliminary design stages for final City Council approval. Stakeholder involvement in the project was identified at the outset as a chief priority, with the project team holding a public information meeting to solicit feedback from potentially affected residents and environmental organizations such as The Conservancy of Southwest Florida. The project supports the 20-Year Naples Bay Restoration plan by incorporating water quality improvements with natural wetland restoration in the form of a “living shoreline” concept. To learn more about this award-winning project, please Click Here.