Director of Sustainability
Years in DPS: 2
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Years in DPS: 2
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Masters of Business Administration; B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Urban Planning; Energy Executive Leadership Program at National Renewable Energy Lab
Don’t ever dim your light. Recognize what you have to offer this world and lean in on it. Stay true to yourself and have the courage of your convictions. Lastly, let your work speak for itself.
I have worked in Sustainability in Higher Education and K-12 for my entire career. I also owned a consulting firm with expertise in green roofing (a.k.a rooftop gardens).
I put myself through college. I was a non-traditional student and worked while attending undergraduate school. I’m still enjoying those student loans. Within Sustainability, I started off as a volunteer, raising funds for a rooftop garden atop the recreation center at the university I attended when it was cut from the budget. As time progressed, along with my colleague, we were able to raise the necessary $250,000 to get the first rooftop garden in northeast Ohio installed and became employed by the university as project managers through that process. Once it was installed, the City of Cleveland named it the ‘Huber-Westfall Garden’ through a resolution of recognition. Westfall is my maiden name and it’s pretty cool to see your name on a building. During this time I also proposed an Energy Specialist position at the university and got to work entirely on campus while attending school. That was the start of my career. After college I took the entrepreneurial route and started a consulting business. I found being in charge of other people’s income was a bit more than I bargained for and decided to re-enter higher education in Colorado! I packed up my car and drove across the nation to start anew in Colorado Springs where I was the first Sustainability Coordinator at Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC). While working at PPCC I decided I was a glutton for punishment and got my Masters in Business Administration in one year while working full-time. I don’t recommend this but it was worth it! Through my time at PPCC, I realized that starting with our youth was imperative to the development of generational change, so I moved on to K-12 at Douglas County School District (DCSD). During my time at DCSD, I was blessed enough to build a team from one to eight full-time employees that included sustainability, energy management and controls. We did some amazing things to reduce the district’s carbon footprint. I took two and half years off to be home with our newborn son before coming to Denver Public Schools. I look forward to collaborating with the many talented people across our district to create generational change that will positively impact the one place we all call home – Earth!
My job is eclectic. In Sustainability we work on the following: Resource Management (electricity, natural gas, waste, water), Renewables (rooftop solar, ground-mount solar, solar canopies, solar shade structures), Electrification (buildings, buses), Contract Management (transport gas, recycling, power purchase agreements, controls, etc.), Energy Performance Contracting (technical services, financials, measurement and verification, process improvement, debt services), Engagement (administrator/teacher support, Youth Sustainability Board, DPS Students for Climate Action), Project Management in conjunction with our Planning, Design and Construction team (LED lights, direct digital controls, eGauges, etc.), Data Management (real-time data, solar data, utility data, fleet data, etc.), Utility Management (rate and consumption forecasting, market trends, hedging, bill processing, Xcel programs), Sustainable Design (stakeholder group, standards, market trends, codes, regulations), Revenue (grants, rebates, renewable energy credits), Building Optimization (controls, automation opportunities, fault detection and diagnostics, commissioning), Sustainability Management Plan (various stakeholder groups which includes an Academics/Sustainability curriculum and equity, greenhouse gas inventory, marketing), Financial Impact Assessment (decarbonization cost analysis), Human Capital (goals, team building, talent acquisition, conflict resolution, professional development, internships), Reporting and presentations. Sprinkled with some fun like disc golf competitions among our team. My day could touch every single one of these topics.
We believe in the triple bottom-line which impacts our students in a positive way: Economic Prosperity, Environmental Protection, and Social Development.
Examples: Roughly 30 students every summer join our Garden of Youth program to learn how to garden and develop job skills. These gardens provide food to cafeterias and food banks in supporting food security. Additionally, we will be installing a solar canopy that will provide low-income DPS families with utility bill assistance (more to come on this over the summer!) and we are reducing our carbon footprint and developing a districtwide plan in response to the DPS Students for Climate Action’s Board of Education policy request.
Collaboration: I get to work with so many different people within DPS since Sustainability can apply to all divisions. Also, we are in the kid business – nothing better than that! Moreover, I laugh at least once a day. Whether it’s a joke or delirium – I’m laughing.
The installation of our first solar canopy. It’s happening in summer 2022, so until it’s built I’m keeping the details a mystery!
Anything outside with my husband and two kids! Art. Fashion. Sports. Hiking. Camping. Wannabe foodie.