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ENV SP Spotlight: Stephanie Dalo of AECOM

Stephanie Dalo, PE, ENV SP. [Photo submitted by Stephanie Dalo]

Stephanie Dalo is a professional engineer in Vancouver, British Columbia, with experience in the structural inspection and analysis of municipal and provincial infrastructure. Her civil infrastructure work has included bridges, culverts, dams, roads, wastewater treatment structure, water reservoirs, stormwater retention basins, noise walls, waste management structures, and other projects.

ISI had an opportunity to connect with Stephanie to learn more about her work, and experience using Envision.

Professional Experience

Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI): Tell us more about your current work and pursuits.

Stephanie Dalo (SD): My work with AECOM has spanned over 7 years. In addition to my work, I am pursuing a Masters of Engineering Leadership (Urban Systems) at the University of British Columbia. Through this program, I collaborate with faculty, government, and industry experts. Some of the key elements of this exciting program include exploring major ways in which urban systems provision and performance impact society; learning about the linkages between the environment, health, quality of life and economy; developing long-term investment plans and alternative analyses; applying systems theory to sustainability and resiliency; and applying principles of engineering economics.

(ISI): What drew you to your field of work in the first place?

(SD): I was fortunate to grow up in places with treated water, maintained roads, managed wastewater, distributed power, and well-maintained sewers. In my early teens, I began to question who is responsible for all of this. I realized that infrastructure touches the lives of everyone, and that good infrastructure creates cities that thrive. That became my passion and led me to my career as a structural engineer.

After working as a structural engineer for 4 years, I started asking myself ‘why’ I am designing these structures. To me, it wasn’t just about doing the project right, but also about doing the right project. I started learning about sustainability, but I did not feel that I was utilizing this concept in my projects. There was always a question of whether my clients were interested enough to include a thorough sustainability assessment. I wanted to follow my passion so I switched my focus from structural design to how people can plan, design, construct, operate and maintain infrastructure in a holistic way… in a way that authentically balances environmental, social, and economic considerations.

(ISI): What would you say has been your biggest career challenge thus far?

(SD): Getting engineers more engaged in conversations about sustainability. Planners, policy makers, and architects are leading the conversation, but engineers also need to be at the table to discuss how to best design these systems.

(ISI): What has been your proudest career moment to-date?

(SD): My proudest moment was the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Meadowlily Footbridge, a heritage bridge in the City of London, Ontario. The historical and sentimental value of this bridge meant a lot to the local residents. The notion of entirely replacing the bridge drew significant protests. So, despite restoration being the more costly option, the city prioritized rehabilitating it to match the original design as best as possible.

High quality public engagement ensured that this piece of cultural history was not erased. At the start of the project, there were no plans for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. However, since the project went well and the locals were so pleased with it, the ceremony was arranged. The mayor said a few words on the day that it was officially reopened to the public.

Envision Experience

(ISI): How did you learn about Envision?

(SD): While working as a Structural Engineer at AECOM, I began to grow increasingly aware of all the lives I touch with the work that I do. While I felt proud of my work, I recognized that there was more I could do to make my projects sustainable. I began reading and researching sustainable infrastructure and was invited to give a guest lecture to graduate students at the Western University in London Ontario about Reducing a Project’s Carbon Footprint and Adapting to Climate Change. One of the senior engineers at AECOM saw that I was very passionate about sustainability and referred me to the Envision Framework. As soon as I learned more about Envision, I realized it was a tool that I wanted to apply to my work.

(ISI): Why did you decide to pursue an Envision credential?

(SD): As an advocate for sustainable development, my objective is to consult decision makers on how to implement principles of sustainability into infrastructure planning, design, construction, and operations & maintenance. My goal is to reduce project risks through increased transparency, stakeholder involvement, inclusive practices, innovation, and leadership. I plan to use the Envision Framework on my projects because it offers a consistent, consensus-based framework for assessing sustainability and resilience in infrastructure.

(ISI): How are you advocating for the use of Envision?

(SD): I have been working with the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) to bring more exposure to the Envision framework and inform engineers across Canada on how they can use it. The framework provides a common understanding that allows owners, architects, landscape architects, planners, operators and constructors to set higher performance goals for projects and to collaborate and communicate on achieving those goals.

In November 2016, I was invited to sit on the CSCE’s Sustainability Assessment task force. This task force was developed to evaluate the challenges and opportunities of the ISI Envision Framework, identify gaps, and support continuous improvement.

Fun Facts

(ISI): What are some of your favorite hobbies and interests?

(SD): I really enjoy practicing yoga. It helps me stay grounded, mindful and present. I also love camping and hiking. Being outdoors helps me connect with nature and my surroundings. I am also somewhat of a music nerd. While I appreciate the classics, I love keeping up with new music.

(ISI): What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

(SD): I play guitar and have a small two-piece band called Archives. I play rhythm guitar, keyboard / synth and sing. I also am writing a TV show with a friend. We are serious about it, but we are also having fun. We just want to write something that is entertaining, adventurous, suspenseful, and of course, funny.

ENV SP Spotlight: Michael Bloom

 

Michael Bloom, PE, ENV SP, BCEE, CFM is the Sustainability Practice Manager at R. G. Miller Engineers, Inc., in Houston, Texas.  He is responsible for wetlands, natural resources work, nature-based stormwater management, and surface water quality management projects. He has 28 years of experience in environmental consulting.

ISI staff had the chance to connect with Michael, and he provided the following insights from his career:

Professional Experience

What drew you to your field of work?

I have always had a keen interest in “making a difference” while applying science and engineering knowledge and skills.  I’d read articles in the late 1980s about Superfund clean-ups and a company called Roy F. Weston, Inc. doing projects like that. This piqued my interest, and I got to work for Roy F. Weston, Inc. back in the early 1990s.

What has been your biggest career challenge?

One one project I needed to deliver a complex information technology (IT) solution to a state agency on time, on budget, and while meeting client expectations about how the system would function.  A working IT solution was ultimately delivered, but the client was dissatisfied, the budget was overrun, and the technology team was exhausted. I learned that information technology projects are extremely challenging to deliver and that every consultant sometimes has a project that fails to make a profit.

What has been your proudest career moment?

organized and conducted a pre-conference workshop at a national conference on watershed management.  It was particularly rewarding to have the workshop sell out and generate lots of positive feedback from attendees.

Envision Experience

Why did you decide to pursue an Envision credential?

I saw that it was backed by ACEC, APWA, and ASCE – all large, well established organizations. I thought that adoption would take off and I felt that I needed to get credentialed or I would be left behind.

How are you using Envision?

I have been advocating for its use in the Houston region since 2010.  I helped secure resolutions of support for its use by Houston Wilderness, the North Houston Association, and the West Houston Association.  As an ISI trainer, I’m now among those training private sector practitioners as well as people who work for the Harris County Engineering Department, after the department announced they would be moving forward with its use on projects.  As an ISI trained Verifier, I’ve reviewed two large projects that have completed the entire process.

Could you share some highlights from an Envision project?

I helped teach a class in Advanced Sustainable Design at Rice University. We had the class use Envision to evaluate the sustainability of three different storm surge protection options for the Houston metropolitan area. The total Envision credit score was determined for all three options.  Through this evaluation, the students discovered that the net embodied carbon of all three barrier systems were not insignificant. Student groups used the entire Envision credit system to evaluate the three barrier options and present their findings in a report and in a presentation.

Fun Facts

What are some of your favorite hobbies and interests?

I enjoy science fiction, helping my wife in the garden, the ancient eastern board game of “GO.”

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I am a sucker for almost any type of cat or dog. We currently have 3 cats and 1 dog at home. I drive my wife to a particular garden-supply place in town — that usually has rescue kittens and puppies for adoption – just so I can pet them.

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.