Sustainable Wheat Ridge is a volunteer-led committee guiding the City in efforts to improve community conditions in six areas of environmental sustainability:
- Communications and Engagement
- Green Building and Energy Efficiency
- Renewable Energy
- Solid Waste and Recycling
The committee operates under the direction of Mayor Bud Starker and with the support of the City Manager’s office and Marianne Schilling.
The committee is made up of these community members:
For 11 years, Karen worked for the Jefferson County Planning Department working on Solid Waste Policy. She has served on Governor Ritter's Sustainability Task Force; the Energy, Environment and Natural Resource Federal Advocacy Committee, and is certified in Professional Erosion and Sediment Control.
Karen holds a B.S. Geological Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines.
Currently a Senior GIS Software Engineer with Elastic, Aaron was previously a Lead Software Engineer at the National Centers for Environment Information. Aaron is a relatively new member of the Wheat Ridge community having just moved here in August, 2018. He has lived in Colorado for just over 5 years. He's an active member of the Colorado Mountain Club and enjoys hiking, running, occasional climbing and skiing. He's passionate about clean energy options for home and transportation and is excited to engage in community outreach for more sustainable approaches to living.
Aaron holds a B.S. in Biological Sciences from North Carolina State University and an M.S. in Computer Science & Information Systems and a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Amy DePierre, Co-Chair
Amy is the Marketing and Sustainability Manager for Associates III, a residential interior design firm based in Denver, CO and an adjunct lecturer for the Geography and Environmental Science Department at the University of Colorado, Denver. Professionally, Amy enjoys working collaboratively with integrated teams focused on sustainability solutions. Personally, Amy loves to garden, hike, and camp, spending most of her free time in nature with her family.
Amy received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her M.S. in Environmental Science with a focus on sustainable small-scale agriculture systems from the University of Colorado, Denver.
Heather is a Project Manager III at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in Golden, CO. Her projects include residential weatherization for low-income homes, procurement/financial strategies for utility energy service contracts, demand response education, energy-water-food network, portfolio/program management, and resiliency assessments.
Heather holds a B.A. in Philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder, an M.S. in Environmental Studies from San Jose State University, and an MBA at the University of Colorado at Denver.
April works at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a Toxics Release Inventory and Healthy Schools Coordinator. Experience working on environmental justice, environmental and land use planning, grant management, policy at the Federal and local level. April is passionate about the environment and community. April supports building and maintaining an inclusive community that supports healthy and active living for all residents. April has lived in Wheat Ridge 2012.
April received her B.S. in Geography and Environmental Planning at Towson University and her Master of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Colorado at Denver.
Joy Opp, Co-Chair
Joy works in the Communication and Engagement focus area of the Sustainable Wheat Ridge committee, and serves as the committee’s co-chair. She is a native Coloradan and a resident of Wheat Ridge since 2006. An avid hiker, Joy founded Colorado Mountain Mamas, a hiking group for moms with new babies and for a decade lead hundreds of hikes all over the front range. She is a local Realtor with West + Main Homes and thrives on helping her clients understand the value as well as the sustainability impact of the homes they are buying and selling. Joy is also a trained Climate Reality Leader.
Joy received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Kansas.
Justin has lived in Wheat Ridge for over 10 years. His professional career includes researching, writing, and editing print and digital communications for non-profits, government, and B2B enterprises. Justin currently works as a communications professional for the bioenergy research group at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Prior to joining NREL, Justin was the marketing and communications manager at Renewable Energy Systems, a global development, engineering, and construction firm active in the utility-scale wind, solar, energy storage, and transmission and distribution markets.
Justin received a B.A. in English literature from Indiana University at Bloomington and a Professional Certificate in Sustainability Management from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
In the first half of his career, Rob worked as a mining engineer for various mining, oil, and engineering companies. Mid-career, Rob returned to university for a master's degree in environmental management and policy. He has worked for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management coordinating the cleanup of abandoned and historic mines on public lands. Ten years ago Rob and other volunteer engineers were first invited to Guatemala by La Comisión Pastoral Paz y Ecología and later Colectivo MadreSelva to evaluate various technical issues concerning four operating and proposed foreign owned mines in Guatemala. Issues included environmental impact analyses performed by the mining companies and approved by government agencies, impacts of mining on downstream water quality, houses damaged by vibrations from mine blasting and truck traffic, post-mining reclamation and reclamation surety bonds, and financial contributions of foreign owned mining to the national economy. This consulting work continues. Rob also volunteers to monitor conservation easements. His favorite retirement activity was a degree in biology.
Rob has a B.S. and Master of Engineering degrees in Mine Engineering and is a registered Professional Engineer.
Sara has been in Wheat Ridge since 2015 and enjoys hiking and swimming. She started working in health care in 2001 providing direct patient care. Sara spent several years in library management and publishing and is currently working in the media field as a television production researcher and post-production manager.
Sara received a B.A. in Anthropology and a Master's degree in Library and Information Management from the University of Kansas.
Danny is a sustainability enthusiast living in Wheat Ridge Colorado. He moved to Colorado in 2010 to attend graduate school and is currently an engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. He enjoys backpacking, gardening, pottery, cycling and improving his community. His favorite part about Wheat Ridge is the Clear Creek trail.
Danny received a B.S. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the University of Oklahoma and an M.S. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Christian is the Director of Transportation Fuels and Technology at the Colorado Energy Office. He also served as Director of Programs and Initiatives at the Energy Office, focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy (public, commercial, residential) and alternative fuel vehicles. Prior to that he worked at the City and County of Denver as Sustainability Program Administrator where he worked on a number of citywide sustainability initiatives including the energy efficiency program.
Christian has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of San Diego and an M.S. in Construction Management from Colorado State University.
History of the Committee
In 2017, Mayor Joyce Jay and City Council initiated the inaugural Wheat Ridge Environmental Sustainability Committee (WRESC).
Between June 2017 and June 2018, the WRESC, comprised of 11 residents with vast expertise and experience in each topic area, dedicated approximately 550 hours meeting twice a month at City Hall as well as extensive time outside of these meetings to develop the Environmental Sustainability Action Plan. The WRESC represented each district in Wheat Ridge and was comprised of: Karen Berry, Amy DePierre, Dan Graeve, Heather Head, Alex Helling, April Nowak, Joy Opp, Andy Rasmussen, Rob Robinson, Eric Wilson, and Adam Wylie.
Shortly after the Action Plan was approved, the WRESC entered the implementation phase of its mission. A few new committee members were added to begin to implement several of the programs recommended. The committee also underwent a name change and the program is now known as Sustainable Wheat Ridge.