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:
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.
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.
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.